Nigeria Power Rankings: Simy most deserving of top spot

Simeon Nwankwo promptly left the Serie B behind for the Serie A. Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

A season that veered into uncertainty on the final stretch returned about three months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Finally, it all wrapped to a close in June. Most of it anyway.

And with the end of the season, comes the final month of rankings for Nigerian players around the world.

It is hard to find a more deserving recipient of this month's top award than Simeon "Simy" Nwankwo.

July could not have been any better for the 28-year-old. He was a Serie B player when the month started. By the end, he was a Serie A player. And as much as that was teamwork, Simy had a huge part to play in it. The Nigeria forward opened the month by exploding for a hat-trick against Benevento -- the second of those goals was a pure beauty. He then went on to add four more goals to finish with seven goals in seven as Crotone won five, drew one and lost just one of their seven games.

That record saw them secure promotion to the Italian top flight, where Simy will be playing his football next season. His efforts also proved more than enough to shoot him to a ranking top spot.

Certainly Gernot Rohr will have to look his way now when he draws up his next squad list for September's friendly games in France. Simy has more than earned his place.

Coming right up behind him is Wilfred Ndidi. Yes, Leicester frittered away a wide points advantage, allowing Manchester United to pip them to a place in the English Premier League top four. But despite that abysmal run of four defeats and only two wins out of seven in July, Ndidi was still one of the outstanding Foxes players.

His constant protection of the back four and excellent ability to break up opposition plays were just as consistent as they have been all season.

- Nigeria Power Rankings: June 2020

Molde's Leke James saved his best for the last month of the season, bursting out for four goals in the last seven games, losing out only to eventual champions Bodo/Glimt, who pipped them to the title by just those three points.

Down in fourth is Samuel Chukwueze. The forward had no goals in July, but was so integral in Villareal finishing fifth and qualifying for Europe that in one game against Real Sociedad, he was subbed on into the centre forward position to replace Fernando Nino. He struggled a bit but as soon as he was switched back to his favoured right side, the 21-year-old instantly set up Santo Cazorla for a goal.

Frank Onyeka is the second central midfielder to make the top 10 this month and even with a full deck of leagues in play, he would still have made it. The Midtjylland man has been so dominant in midfield all season for the Danish side that he was voted player of the season as they romped to the title. And July was no different.

After a season that at the beginning looked like it was on the fast track to nowhere, Kelechi Iheanacho has finished stronger than was expected. his involvement in the run-in -- the two goals he scored did not hurt -- helped to secure the Foxes a place in the Europa League. Iheanacho looked sharp, fit, involved and dangerous, and should have had at least one more goal and assist to his name in July.

On the subject of players starting July in one division and finishing in another, Semi Ajayi has got to be in the conversation. Outstanding all season, the big defender -- as usual -- was involved in every near heart-stopping game as West Bromwich Albion made their way, faltered, then recovered to book one of two automatic promotion places to the Premier league, just behind champions Leeds United.

There are many who could be forgiven for forgetting his name. Despite his potential, Mikel Agu could not quite make the cut for the 2018 World Cup with Nigeria, but has bounced back with Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal.

To make the league team of the week twice in the space of five matches is testament to how well the Nigerian midfielder performed in the month of July.

Guimaraes only finished seventh on the standings, but the Nigerian should be happy with his contributions, especially during this month.

Staying in Portugal, Zaidu Sanusi may just be about to make Rohr's life a tad easier. Just when the German is on the lookout for a left back, the 23-year-old is posting eye-catching performances with CD Santa Clara.

In July, he provided one assist and claimed man of the match honours to boot when they beat CD Aves 3-0.

It was only one of such excellent showings from the youngster and it may not be long before Rohr is looking his way.

Inter Milan occupy second place behind champions Juventus with one match to play and Victor Moses has rediscovered himself with Inter Milan. Not a serial goalscorer at the best of times, his contribution of three assists has helped the Nerrazzuri keep their noses in front of Atalanta.

Nigeria Power Rankings: July 2020

1. Simy Nwankwo (Crotone)

2. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester)

3. Leke James (Molde)

4. Samuel Chukwueze (Villareal)

5. Frank Onyeka (Midtjylland)

6. Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester)

7. Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion)

8. Mikel Agu (Vitoria Guimaraes)

9. Zaidu Sanusi (Santa Clara)

10. Victor Moses (Inter Milan)