CRYSTAL Palace have stepped up plans to sign Nigerian-born winger Ademola Lookman from English Premier League rivals Everton this summer as a replacement for Ivorian star Wilfred Zaha who they are resigned to losing.
Lookman, 21, is currently caught up in a tug-of-war between Nigeria and England as he is eligible to play for either nation and their respective managers Gareth Southgate and Gernot Rohr are both keen on him. In January 2017, Lookman joined Everton from Charlton Athletic for £1mm but has only made 45 appearances for the Merseyside giants in the two years and three months since.
In September last year, Lookman confirmed that he is willing to consider playing for Nigeria having been approached by Super Eagles head coach Rohr. However, England manager Southgate, vowed to prevent Lookman switching his allegiance to Nigeria, saying he had plans for him over the long term.
Mr Rohr has even asked the Nigeria Football Federation ( NFF) to begin the documentation of his switch. Under Fifa rules, if you have played for one country at youth level, a player needs to write in and request for permission to be able to make a formal switch if he intends playing for a different nation at senior level.
Having played for England at youth level, Lookman thus needs to enter a formal application to Fifa before he can feature for Nigeria. However, England are refusing to give up on the fight and U21 coach Aidy Boothroyd confirmed that the player has assured him that his international future lies with England.
With this battle still raging on, Lookman will be hoping for a revival of his club fortunes as he has managed only four goals and two assists for Everton since signing for them. Yet to tie down a regular starting spot, he has been used as a substitute in Marco Silva’s first year as Everton manager, making just three league starts during the course of this campaign.
Lookman spent the second half of last season at German outfit RB Leipzig, where he scored five times in 11 outings but returned to Merseyside in the summer of 2018. Following his good spell there, the Bundesliga club attempted to sign him permanently last summer but nothing materialised despite the player being keen on the move.
There have also been suggestions that Lookman, who is from south London, has suffered from homesickness during his time on Merseyside. He may thus be interested in a transfer that will bring him closer to home should Palace bid for him.