Liverpool’s Nigerian striker granted work permit six years after signing

(SATSports) – Liverpool’s Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi has been granted a work permit to play in the UK – six years after signing for the club.

The 23-year-old joined Liverpool on a long-term deal in August 2015 from Nigeria’s Imperial Academy, but has never played for The Reds due to his inability to secure a work permit. 

It means Awoniyi, who is currently on a seventh loan spell outside of the United Kingdom at German side Union Berlin, is now eligible to be included in the Liverpool squad for next season.

“It’s been a long process but finally [Taiwo] Awoniyi can now focus on his career either at Liverpool or somewhere in England,” a top official at Imperial Academy told BBC Sport Africa.

“He has the ambition to play in the Premier League and hopefully he can do that next season.”

Fit-again Awoniyi, who has a contract with Liverpool until June 2023, scored five goals in 20 appearances for Union Berlin despite an injury-blighted campaign in the Bundesliga.

Since becoming a Red, the forward has enjoyed loan spells with then German second-tier club FSV Frankfurt, Dutch side NEC Nijmegen, Belgian outfits Royal Excel Mouscron (twice) KAA Gent and Mainz in order to attract interest from national selectors and gain a work permit.

An Under-17 World Cup winner with Nigeria in 2013, Awoniyi has represented the West African country at all youth levels.

He played at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand, netting twice and then helped Nigeria win the 2015 Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal.

However he missed out on playing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and was also part of the squad that failed to qualify for the delayed 2020 Tokyo Games.

Awoniyi was close to earning a maiden call-up to the Super Eagles squad for March’s final two qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, according to coach Gernot Rohr but missed out due to injury.

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