Arsenal were among the clubs who led the race to sign the Nigeria international but eventually backed off leaving the youngster disappointed.
Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze has revealed that he was close to joining the Gunners after enjoying a spectacular tournament at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup but the transfer did not materialise due to certain ‘setbacks’.
Chukwueze shot to prominence when he smashed in three goals and claimed three assists to help Nigeria lift the U-17 World Cup in Chile. His goal returns won him the Bronze Boot as the tournament’s third highest goalscorer, as teammate and close pal Victor Osimhen claimed the Golden Boot with ten goals.
However, while Osimhen signed for German top side Wolfsburg soon after the tournament, Chukwueze could not secure a deal with Porto, Arsenal or Salzburg.
The Diamond Academy product refused to lose faith in his own abilities, and after putting in the hard work back at his local base, Villarreal came with an offer he could not refuse. The rest is history.
”I have had setbacks, when I had so many options to sign with Porto, Arsenal and Salzburg but it didn’t happen actually then I went back to my academy and started training all over again,” Chukwueze told the Super Eagles Media Team via YouTube.
”It was difficult for me at that moment because my teammates had signed some contracts with their teams and I was back home training with my academy before Villarreal picked me up.
”It shows me that you need to keep your head down and keep working harder. If things are not working properly as you think, you need to keep your head down.
”I think I am in a perfect place because of the setback, assuming I went to the club that I was looking at, maybe I won’t be where I am today, so it taught me some lessons.”
Chukwueze was a member of the Super Eagles squad that picked a bronze medal at the 2015 AFCON tournament in Egypt, scoring once against South Africa in the quarterfinals.
The 20-year-old is also among five youngsters in the running for the 2019 CAF Youth Player of the Year award.