Tottenham take on Liverpool over Lazio’s £8m midfielder Ogenyi Onazi
Liverpool, 3/1 for the Premier League title with Coral, are ready to rival interest from 10/1 top four chances Spurs in Lazio and Nigeria midfielder Ogenyi Onazi.
The 31-year-old has caught the eye in Serie A with a series of impressive displays in a box-to-box role for the Rome club. Reds boss Brendan Rodgers’ scouting network have thus sent glowing reports back to Anfield about Onazi.
So too have Tottenham, however, and their director of football Franco Baldini is understood to have made contact with Lazio about a summer switch to White Hart Lane.
Onazi recently confirmed his desire to move to the Premier League, so both heavyweights are looking at landing him for a reported £8m.
His grafting and agility, despite a diminutive stature, give this 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner a low centre of gravity, which would put him in good stead for the Premier League.
Rodgers wants midfield reinforcements in the summer to give him more options in the engine room.
A destroyer is thought to be top priority because of Brazilian Lucas Leiva’s injury record, but Liverpool have missed out to London clubs for other targets in recent transfer windows.
Onazi would provide competition for Jordan Henderson, who has come on leaps and bounds at the Reds this term. At Spurs, he would have to get past the likes of fellow box-to-box player Paulinho, Belgium’s Mousa Dembele and Nabil Bentaleb for a starting spot.
Tottenham are also tracking Nuremberg and Switzerland striker Josip Drmic, although they face competition from neighbours Arsenal, but Baldini is confident of capturing Onazi too.
At the World Cup finals this summer, he is likely to be given a similar role to his club by Stephen Keshi’s Super Eagles. Onazi has formed a fine midfield partnership with Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel for Nigeria.
Keshi must decide how to blend youth with experience, as Coral’s recent feature on African nations at the World Cup pointed out, but they have a tough pool at the finals. Group F contains 5/1 tournament second-favourites Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and unknown quantity Iran.
Coral make Nigeria 13/10 chances to reach the knockout phase and 7/1 shots to top this tricky pool. Back them to win their World Cup opener, against Carlos Queiroz’s Iran, 2-0 at 13/2.