“He decided to stay” – Angry Zaragoza coach vows to freeze out unwanted Nigerian star valued at N.3 billion

The Lagos-born footballer was asked to leave the club in January but he opted to remain at La Romareda

Real Zaragoza coach Fran Escribá has expressed his displeasure with the conduct of Nigerian winger James Igbekeme during the winter transfer window.

Igbekeme has been at Real Zaragoza since 2018 after joining from Portuguese outfit Gil Vicente for €150,000.

Now valued at €500,000 (approx. N.3 billion), the 27-year-old former Super Eagles hopeful has a contract with the Aragon-based club until 2024.

Interestingly, Igbekeme only returned from a year-long loan deal at Colombus Crew in the MLS in December.

But Real Zaragoza deemed Igbekeme surplus to requirements and asked him to find a new club during the winter transfer window so that the club could free up the space to bring in reinforcement.

Still, no interesting offer came up for Igbekeme in January and the Lagos-born ace remained at La Romareda.

However, his decision to stay has angered Real Zaragoza manager Fran Escribá who admits that the player had the right to fulfill the terms of his contract.

But the Spanish head coach has told Igbekeme in clear terms that he is unwanted in Zaragoza and there will be no first-team opportunities for him until the end of the season.

What has been said? 

“I think it hurts you to stay in a place where they have told you that they don’t count on you,” Fran Escribá said, as per El Periodico de Aragon.

“The player’s right to fulfill his contract must be respected, but one who dedicates himself to this profession is because he wants to play. It’s uncomfortable to work with 25 players.

“I made my thinking clear to James (Igbekeme). The club made it clear to him, and he decided to stay. He is in his right, but he is not going to participate.”

Since teaming up with Real Zaragoza over four years ago, Igbekeme has featured in 104 games, contributing four goals and six assists.