The Kaduna-born striker has set LaLiga SmartBank, Spain’s second tier, on fire this season and is propelling his side to promotion — to the big time.

UD Almería haven’t been in Spain’s top division since the 2014/15 season, but the club from the southern city of the same name are serious contenders for promotion in 2020/21. Umar Sadiq, their towering 24-year-old Nigerian forward, is perhaps the most important factor in their push, and with 12 LaLiga goals this season has propelled the club into third place in the LaLiga SmartBank.

Sadiq’s presence in Almeria is down to the sporting project laid out by Turki Al-Sheikh, who took over the club in 2019. The club is committed to signing some of the best talent around, no matter whether from Spain or abroad. They currently boast the second youngest squad in the division, yet also one of the most valuable.

Having just turned 24, Sadiq is oddly enough one of the oldest in the squad. He’s also one of the club’s most expensive ever signings, after his multi-million Euro transfer from Partizan Belgrade last summer. There was a lot of pressure on his shoulders this season, with a lot expected of him, but he is thriving.

Born in Kaduna, Nigeria, Sadiq came through the Future of Africa Football Academy and the Football College Abuja on his way to the top. He made the move to Europe first to Italy, joining the Spezia youth academy and then on to Roma, who he debuted for and scored for at the age of 18.

A series of loans followed as he went in search of first team minutes to fellow Italian sides Bologna and Torino, Dutch side NAC Breda, Scotland’s Rangers, Perugia back in Italy, and Partizan Belgrade in Serbia. With so much upheaval at such a young age, it was tough for Sadiq to truly settle, but he finally found stability in Belgrade and produced an incredibly impressive 23 goals and 19 assists for the Serbian club in just 52 matches.

His talent was obvious to see, and he was quickly snapped up by Almeria to bring him to LaLiga – a league which has embraced African talent to the full over the decades. At Almería, he is experiencing a different footballing culture and continues to thrive. As well as being the side’s top scorer, Sadiq is currently the third-top scorer in the whole division and was named the LaLiga SmartBank Player of the Month for January just a few days ago. He’s also shone against bigger opposition, scoring a brace as Almeria dismantled top-tier side D. Alaves – who had already beaten Real Madrid this season – 5-0 in the Copa del Rey.

His performances have not gone unnoticed. Ever since he shone at the 2016 Olympic Games, scoring four goals as Nigeria won the Bronze medal, Europe’s top scouts have been monitoring his progress. Sadiq has been linked with some LaLiga Santander clubs of late, but he may end up playing in Spain’s top division in 2021/22 anyway if Almería keep up their progress.

The striker was once again on target as Almeria lost 2-1 to Leganes on Wednesday night. Super Eagles defender Kenneth Omeruo netted the winner for the hosts.

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