Bursaspor of Turkey defender, William Troost-Ekong is bound to become the third Nigerian to star for Lille Metropole of France, following interest in his signature by the Ligue 1 club.
Lille’s history includes the presence of Peter Osaze Odemwingie and former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, who is currently in a storm at the club, but that has not stopped them from showing interest in Troost-Ekong.
Subsequently, the Holland-born star could be on the move to Lille this summer, as talks between both clubs have progressed, with the French club willing to pay €3.5m for the defender, who joined Bursaspor on a free transfer from AA Gent of Belgium last season.
Troost-Ekong, who also holds Dutch citizenship courtesy of his mother, has previously had stints at Spurs and FK Haugesund of Norway, and could next play for Lille, who are in a process of reorganising after barely escaping relegation last season.
The 25-year-old stopper played in all of Nigeria’s game at the World Cup, where they failed to progress beyond the group stage after losing 1-2 in their final game against Argentina three days ago.
Last season, Troost-Ekong made 27 appearances for Bursaspor with two goals to his name from his role as a central defender and Lille who were lucky to avoid relegation last season have targeted him as a priority signing to strengthen their defence.
It is believed he has already said yes to the move where he will be expected to replace Junior Alonso who is expected to leave the club soon. Bursaspor will be given €500,000 in add-ons if at the end of the season he plays in 30 games.
His fine performance for Nigeria at the World Cup alerted Lille, who are aware of his desire to quit Turkey where he has complained about late payment of his monthly salary and wages.
This comes few hours after Troost-Ekong hinted that he is happy with his decision to switch national team allegiance from Holland to Nigeria, as he says he is proud to have been part of the Super Eagles’ squad to the World Cup in Russia.
Though the Eagles’ expedition ended early, following a 2-1 loss to Argentina in their last group match on Tuesday, the former Dutch youth international said he was honoured to play 90 minutes in all of Nigeria’s matches, and thanked God for helping his career.
It was another leap forward for Troost-Ekong, who was also part of Nigeria’s under-23 team that won bronze at Rio 201 Olympics, which has again made him happy for opting to commit his international future to his fatherland.
The Eagles were just four minutes away from qualifying for the round of 16, but Marcos Rojo scored the decisive goal for Argentina’s victory and passage into the knockout stage.
Group D’s other last game saw Croatia beat debutants Iceland 2-1 despite resting some of their players, and advance with Argentina, who will face France in the round of 16, while the East Europeans will lock horns with Denmark.
However, despite crashing out in the first round, Troost-Ekong has expressed satisfaction with his performance and that of his teammates.
He stated: “Hard to describe in words how that felt. It was an emotional rollercoaster. We gave everything against Argentina last night.
“I’m grateful and proud to have represented Nigeria and all Nigerians at this World Cup. But most of all I am humbled and thank God for bringing me this far.”