SOCCER

Villarreal’s Chukwueze still missing but Dia makes La Liga debut against Granada


The Yellow Submarine have handed the Senegal striker his Spanish topflight bow but will be without their Nigerian star

Samuel Chukwueze remains unavailable to Villarreal, as he sits out of his team’s La Liga opener against Granada.

The Nigeria international has been out of action since picking an injury during the Yellow Submarine’s Europa League semi-final fixture against Arsenal on May 6.

Before his injury nightmare, the Super Eagles was a threat to the Gunners’ backline, very nearly giving the Spaniards an early lead after four minutes.

Sadly, his contributions in the competition came to an end, however he still picked up a winner’s medal after his Spanish topflight side beat Manchester United in the final to emerge as champions.

Despite returning to personal training, the 22-year-old Nigerian did not make Villarreal’s cut for their Uefa Super Cup fixture with Champions League holders, Chelsea.

In his absence, manager Unai Emery opted to start new signing Boulaye Dia alongside Gerard Moreno and Yeremi Pino as his front three.

Chukwueze is expected to be available for Nigeria when they begin their World Cup qualification campaign in September.

Meanwhile, Dia will make his La Liga debut having been named in the starting XI alongside Algeria star Aissa Mandi.

Thanks to his impressive form for Reims in the French Ligue 1 – where he scored 14 goals in 36 league appearances, the Senegal striker moved to the Estadio de la Ceramica on a five-year contract.

For Mandi, he joined Villarreal on a free transfer in June following the expiry of his deal at Real Betis and he signed a four-year contract.

He missed one of the club’s penalties against the Blues, and he would be hoping to put up a fine display to atone for his miss.

Whereas, Moroccan star Sofian Chakla – who was on loan at Getafe last season – will not be playing any part against the Nasrids.

On the other side, Nigeria international Ramon Azeez was not listed for the game by manager Robert Moreno, while 21-year-old Senegalese goalkeeper Cheikh Kane Sarr will be on the bench.

Cameroon international midfielder Yan Eteki is expectedly missing for the 2021-22 campaign opener following a muscle injury.

Moreno’s team are out this season to claim one of the tickets to Europe having finished ninth in La Liga last season having garnered 46 points from 38 matches. 


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