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Ahmed Musa: Former Leicester man joins Kano Pillars on short-term deal

BY: bbc.com
Ahmed Musa captained Nigeria to third place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt
Ahmed Musa captained Nigeria to third place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt

Nigeria national team captain Ahmed Musa has signed a deal until the end of the season to play for his former club Kano Pillars.

His agreement includes a clause that allows him to leave when and if he can find a club in Europe.

He joins as an Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) elite player with the aim of boosting their image as well as helping Musa maintain his fitness as he continues his search for a European club.

Musa is keen to get in shape to play for the Super Eagles in the World Cup qualifiers that start in June.

The 28-year-old, who is a free agent since leaving Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr in October, had received offers from England, Russia and Turkey.

The initial idea was proposed by the governor of Kano, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and Shehu Dikko, chairman of the League Management Company (LMC).

"Anything that improves the image of Nigerian football is something that I strive to embark on and Kano Pillars holds a special place in my heart," the former Leicester City player told BBC Sport Africa as he considered the deal.

"It's the team that helped me become the professional footballer I am today, so this is more than just football but a very strong bond."

Musa, who has built two training and fitness facilities in Northern Nigeria to help grass roots football, scored 18 goals for Kano Pillars to finish as top scorer in the 2009/10 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season.

His desire to help promote the image of the domestic league on social media is what the LMC, which runs the NPFL, is hoping to benefit from this season.

Musa made his 96th appearance for Nigeria in their 3-0 win over Lesotho in Lagos in the Super Eagles final Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Success in Russia and Saudi Arabia
Musa scored 11 goals and provided 14 assists in 57 matches, helping Al Nassr, whom he joined from Leicester City in summer 2018, to the Saudi Pro League and Super Cup titles.

He also achieved success in Russia with CSKA Moscow where he won three league titles and added three domestic cup titles, before switching to Leicester City for a club-record fee in July 2016.

The pacey forward failed to establish himself with the Foxes scoring five goals in 33 matches, with the highlight coming on loan at CSKA where he scored six times in 10 appearances at the Russian club - three times more than he managed in his 21 Premier League appearances, before his move to Asia.

Despite West Brom failing to finalise a deal over finances, he has once again been strongly linked with a return to the English Premier League and Russian giants CSKA Moscow, where he is highly revered for scoring 61 times and creating 33 assists in 184 games across two spells.

Turkish media have also reported that Besiktas and Fenerbahce are interested in signing the Super Eagle.

He refused to confirm or deny media reports in England, Russia and Turkey linking him with different top tier clubs.

The former VVV Venlo man will be hoping to sort his club future ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers which starts in June.

After Vincent Enyeama (101) and Joseph Yobo (100), Musa is Nigeria's third most capped player in history, having played 96 matches since his debut aged just 17 in 2010.

He helped the Super Eagles win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and played for them in the past two World Cups

Musa scored twice for Nigeria at the 2014 and 2018 Fifa World Cup tournaments to become the country's top World Cup goalscorer.