Victor Eletu is viewed as a shining star of the future, and the end of 2022 proved memorable for the teenage midfield maestro.
The 17-year-old Lagos-born midfielder signed his first pro contract for reigning Italian champions Milan in December, scored a sensational goal in a friendly and was selected for February’s coveted U20 African Cup of Nations.
Seeing out 2022 in style bodes well for Eletu’s new year. He appears to be highly marketable for the former European champions, having signed a three-year contract worth €1m including bonuses thanks to his tough-talking agent Allele Celestine.
Eletu joins a lengthy list of powerful Nigerians to have joined AC Milan, and is expected to play a role when the club hosts Torino in the last 16 Coppa Italia tie on 11 January.
Head coach Stefano Pioli will not be afraid to draft in Eletu, having seen his skills develop at the club to become a valuable asset. Although he is generally utilised as a defensive midfielder/deep-lying playmaker, his speed and power means that he can be let off the leash to compete as a box-to-box midfielder.
With Eletu set to represent the 19-time Scudetto winners until 2025, over the next few years he will no doubt become a huge prospect with leading teams across Europe expected to be clamouring to sign him.
Wily Pioli could well draft in Eletu for games while continuing his overall development with the youth team, until he is ready to unleash him into regular league action.
Following the summer’s preseason training with the first team, Eletu was promoted by Piolo to the role of U19 club captain for the 2022/23 campaign.
He is expected to be given a bit part role this term with AC Milan, who are just about in the mix to win the league again. There’s a range of bets at PlayUp review to back AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus and Lazio taking the title from firm favourites and runaway league leaders Napoli.
While the FIFA World Cup finals were being contested in Qatar, when the quality of football overall was not terrific but the shocks and excitement were top notch, Eletu was busy making a name for himself.
Eletu, who came on in the 67th minute, bagged what proved to be the winner. He slotted home with 12 minutes remaining to become the side’s hero in their 3-2 success over Serie D side Lumezzane.
Things got even better for Eletu, after being selected for the U20 African Cup of Nations in Egypt. A dozen teams will tackle the tournament from 19 February until 11 March. Nigeria is in the same group as Egypt, Mozambique and Senegal with the matches to be played at the Cairo International Stadium.
Elethu will have a perfect opportunity to light up the stage and follow in the footsteps of his compatriots. The Nigeria U20 team has been in the doldrums in recent years, despite an incredible history that includes a record-breaking seven African Cup of Nations titles and twice finishing runner up at the FIFA World Cup.
He kicked off his career with the Prince Kazeem Eletu Academy in Lagos and in 2018 received a scholarship at the AC Milan Soccer School.
Hard work has paid dividends, as he has grown through the ranks by competing at various age levels in the Campionato Nazionale, Coppa Italia Primavera, Italian Primavera, UEFA Youth League and the Viareggio Cup. His strengths include dribbling in tight spaces on top of his natural pace and power.
With a strong left foot and the ability to cut the opposition apart with deep passes, it is little wonder that Elethu is firmly in the long-term plans of Pioli.
Major big-spending teams like Barcelona, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Real Madrid will no doubt be keeping close tabs on Elethu whose career is just about to explode.