Another Nigerian-born player has joined SPAL of Italy, as the side that were only last season relegated from the top-flight Italian Serie A have boosted their ranks with the signing of Caleb Okoli from Atalanta, megasportsarena.com reports.
Following the earlier arrival of London native, Abdulmalik Justin Owolabi-Belewu to the Serie B newcomers, Okoli is the second Nigerian-born central defender to join SPAL in this summer’s transfer window, but he will only play on loan for the duration of this season.
It is a major step forward for the 19-year-old Okoli, who began his career in the academy of Vicenza before his move to Atalanta ahead of the 2017/18 season, following which he played over the past five seasons and won two league titles with the youth squad of Stephen Ayodele Makinwa’s former club.
During his time at Atalanta, Okoli got five outings on the bench with the first team, four of which were last season, with great expectations of a bright future for the youngster who appeared for Italy in the European U-19 Championship qualifiers last year and was invited to the under-20 team’s camp last month.
However, rather than stick with Atalanta this season, the fast-rising centre back has left The Black & Blue temporarily, as he will spend the 2020/21 campaign at Stadio Paolo Mazza, where SPAL officially announced their signing of the youngster, who has a quest for first-team action.
Okoli also links up with Algeria’s Mohamed Fares as well as Senegal’s duo of Jaume Cuellar and Demba Thiam at SPAL, where he is bound to get his debut when they take on Cosenza in their next league game on October 3.
The centre-back, who was born in Italy but is eligible to feature for Nigeria through his parents, will hope to excel during his time with SPAL and join The White & Blues’ revival efforts, after they were relegated to the Italian second-tier last season after finishing bottom of the table.
In a deal that is seen to bolster the club’s defence line in their quest to make an immediate return to the Serie A at the end of this season, the ambitious club stated on their official website: “SPAL announces that we have acquired on loan from Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, central defender Memeh Caleb Okoli.”