FEATURE | Young Nigerian dominating Latvian football

At just 19 years old, Tolu Arokodare has been one of the best players in the Latvian Vrsliga since joining Valmiera, named after the city that has a population of just 25,000.

He was one of three young Nigerians to join the Latvian side from Lagos-based non-league side Box2Box. Arokodare helped Valmiera finish fourth in the league.

The centre-forward is 1.91 metres tall, posing a threat to defenders aerially. His technical play, however, is also superb as evidenced in the video below.

How much longer will he stay at Valmiera? Continue reading to see what Sithembiso Romeo has to say. 

THE HAPPENINGS

Valmiera has been clouded by scandals, with the negative press starting during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the Latvian Football Federation Congress [LFFC] requested the suspension of Uldis Pūcītis [vice president] and Tamaz Pertia [head coach] for violations of the rules.

However, the big issue now is the situation regarding Tolu Arokodare, who refused to take part in the game against Liepāja. An act which is considered as a protest against the fact that the club does not want to release him. 

“I had an offer from Anderlecht, the acceptance of which would break the record of Latvian football transfers. However, the club blocked the transfer, saying that I was not for sale and that Anderlecht should no longer contact me,” Arokodare is quoted on Sportsacentrs.com

The 19-year-old striker who is valued at €225,000 by Transfermarkt has been linked with moves to Belgian giants Anderlecht, Czech champions Sparta Prague as well as clubs in Germany and France.

“I want to leave Latvia because Anderlecht is a good club, there is a good league in Belgium, and it would be a good next step in my career. It would also be beneficial for Valmiera,” the Nigerian explained.

The Nigerian has played in Latvia for two seasons and he seems to have played his last for the club as he is eager to join the Belgian giants. The player hasn’t been docile.

“After discussion with my agent Jean Gerard, I offered the president of Valmiera the following option: I would stay until the end of the season unless he agree to fix the amount now, and I would move to Anderlecht in January [2021].

“However he does not want to agree with that either. I don’t understand that – it’s very funny and unfair,” Arokodare concluded

THE CLUB’S POSITION

Valmiera have emphasized that the transfer of the 19-year-old Nigerian to Anderlecht is not in their best interest, because there are more than 10 clubs interested in the player.

Anderlecht are reportedly ready to pay €1.15-millon. This won’t be a record for Latvian football transfers as earlier reported as Andregj Rubins and Maris Verpakovskis, once earned Skonto Riga over €2-million.

The highest fees in recent times have been recorded by Ventspils who sold Nigerian Adeleki Akinjemi to Norway last year for approximately €700k.

The case of Akinjemi was also scandalous as well, the club even announced the player had been kidnapped, though it turned out he disappeared on the recommendation of his agents.

Valmiera, are eager to keep Arokodare so he could help them in the Europa League qualifiers, with the game against Poznan Lech next week, and hopefully mount an unlikely title charge.

Arokodare is firing this season at the Latvian Championship, with 14 goals in 14 games [9 in the last 4]. 

WHAT NEXT?

Valmiera were held to a 1-1 draw against Liepāja in his absence but the club is in fairly stable in third position despite various absences.

“We talked to Tolu, and it seems to me that there is progress, he slowly realise that this is not the way out,” the club’s vice-president Pūcītis said.

Tolu and his compatriots joining the club in 2019.

“Hopefully we will reach an agreement. It must be understood that you signed a long term contract and you must respect it. To move elsewhere, the club’s must first agreed which each other and only then the player with the club.

“We believe that the deal could much more be successful for us and Tolu later. It is very likely that it will be after this season,” he added.

“Tolu is an important Player for our club and is currently in the middle of the season, he is doing well and is not so easy to replace right away. We are convinced that Europa League can show itself on the right side and then there could be more offers.

“We will see if our decision turns out to be right or wrong. I don’t want to comment publicly on the transition amount. We do not aim to fix the Latvian transfer record, but we will be happy if that is the case.” He concluded.

It seems like Arokodare will remain in Latvian Championship until the end of the season with his club holding the right on paper to make the best decision going forward.