Moses Simon was one of the best wingers in the French Ligue 1 last season. gives you the lowdown on the 26-year-old Nigerian international winger with the spectacular somersault celebration.

The forward contributed six goals and eight assists in 2021/22 Ligue campaign.

Back story:

Moses Simon was born on July 12, 1995 in the central Nigerian city of Jos, also home to fellow Super Eagles stars Mikel John Obi and Ahmed Musa. Simon pursued a career in football despite the scepticism of his father, who wanted his son to follow him into the military.

A product of the GBS Academy, Simon saw a move to Dutch giants Ajax fall through before he got his chance in Europe when he joined the Slovakian side AS Trenčin in January 2014. He was still just 18 at the time. Despite the obvious culture shock of moving from central Nigeria to central Europe in winter, Simon settled quickly in his new surroundings and scored 17 goals in 38 games in 12 months for Trenčin before moving to the Belgian club Gent in January 2015.

In his second match for his new club he was sent off within a minute of coming on as a second-half substitute in a Belgian Cup tie, but despite that setback Simon again wasted little time in making a positive impression. Playing in a team featuring other future Ligue 1 stars like Matz Sels and Thomas Foket, Simon scored seven goals in his first half-season at Gent as they won the Belgian title.

In the following campaign Simon helped Gent reach the last 16 of the Champions League and he remained with the Buffalos until 2018 when the opportunity arose to move to La Liga with Levante. He spent a season at the Valencia-based club before joining Nantes, initially on loan, in 2019. The deal became permanent in 2020 for a reported fee of around €5 million and Simon has gone on to become one the Canaries’ most exciting players, with 14 Ligue 1 goals so far in his two and a half seasons at the Stade de la Beaujoire.

Style of play:

Standing just 1.68m tall, what the diminutive Simon lacks in physical presence he makes up for in pace, dynamism and creativity. He is versatile, capable of playing in a variety of positions across the attack, but his favoured zone is on the left flank, from where he can come inside onto his right foot and score goals like his wonder strike to beat RC Lens in December, a match in which Nantes came from behind to win 3-2. His acrobatic goal celebrations are worth the entrance fee alone.

What you may not know:

Simon was just 18 when he moved to Europe but he could have arrived on the continent sooner. In July 2013 he had trials with Ajax, scoring within three minutes of coming on in a friendly against De Graafschap in a team also featuring the likes of Daley Blind and Kolbeinn Sigthórsson, the Icelandic striker who also later played for Nantes. A permanent move did not happen and he was forced to return to Nigeria before getting his chance at Trenčin. “It was because of money that he didn’t sign for Ajax. There were agents involved who were asking for too much,” his adviser William D’Avila told L’Equipe in 2020.

International career:

Simon was still a teenager when he made his Super Eagles debut in 2015. He missed out on a place in their squad at the 2018 World Cup because of an injury but he helped Nigeria finish third at the Africa Cup of Nations the following year and he was again involved at the AFCON at the start of this year.

Transfer Links:

As reported by BUT, Newcastle United are targeting two thirds of Nantes’ attacking trio that have impressed in Ligue 1 this season and by helping to win the French cup this month.

Present for Lyon’s 3-2 win over Nantes last month, Newcastle scouts watched skilful Nigerian winger Moses Simon.


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