Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha looked destined for a career in athletics before joining City’s reserve team in 2003. The Nigerian born Englishman excelled as a junior sprinter, earning a time of 11.09 seconds racing at the final of the English Athletics Association 100 meters contest. He was also similarly gifted at the standing triple jump. But, evidently, the lure of playing Premier League football proved too great to resist.
The defender, who has been deployed all across the back-line during his time at Eastlands, is now being examined by Newcastle United as a potential recruit to boost their survival hopes following the confirmation of a prolonged absence for current right-back and former Manchester United youngster Danny Simpson.
Although Onuoha made his first team debut when he was only 17, the 23 year-old has struggled assert his position this season, making only 10 appearances. It’s somewhat unsurprising though considering the rate of expansion Manchester City has undergone. Roberto Mancini now has a squad brimming with expensive – if not exceedingly effective – talents and the prospect of further imported arrivals is an absolute certainty. Onuoha may cut a pensive figure in the coming months, therefore, as an exit for the self-confessed City fan may increasingly become his only option of continuing his career. But, with that said, the centre-half did sign a five-year deal to stay at Eastlands only a year ago, and that could cause friction between the three parties.
The warning Newcastle should also heed is that the defender has suffered from a myriad of different injuries throughout his career thus far. Geordies will hardly need reminding of how risky bringing in such players can be. Due to his ailments, Onuoha has only earned 94 appearances in six years at the club.
When he is fit, however, it’s clear that Nedum Onuoha is an extremely intelligent, agile and strong defender. Impressively, Onuoha contributed two goals – albeit one of them dubious – to City’s 5-1 dismantling of their Birmingham namesakes in April.
Of course, that alone will not forcibly win over any critics, but it’s clear that Newcastle could do far worse in the transfer window than pinch an experienced and able defender from a club that’s rapidly losing touch with its own youth system.