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Five things on Terem Moffi

Publish on 17/02/2021 at 18:23 - D. CROSSAN

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With six Ligue 1 Uber Eats goals in 2021, Nigerian forward Terem Moffi is well on the way to keeping Lorient in the top division.

Recruited for around eight million euros from Belgian club KV Kortrijk last autumn the well-travelled 21-year-old is flourishing in Brittany. Monaco's Wissam Ben Yedder is the only player who can match the striker's six league goals this calendar year and Moffi's goals have helped Lorient go unbeaten in five games, winning three of them, to stand 17th, five points above 19th-placed Nîmes.

Moffi made an instant impression with Les Merlus, scoring on his debut in a 3-1 win at Reims but that was his only goal in his first 10 matches for the club. He has now settled perfectly and has struck seven goals in his last eight appearances, including his first Ligue 1 Uber Eats double in the Round 25 2-2 draw at Monaco.

Born in Calabar, Nigeria on May 25 1999, Moffi was immersed in football from a young age. His father Leo was a professional footballer, a goalkeeper, who notably appeared for Enugu Rangers. While at university, Leo became good friends with Chuka Iwobi, father of current Everton player Alex, with whom Terem spent a lot of time growing up.

"Van Persie was the best for me"

Terem had plenty of Nigerians to look to for inspiration, telling Ouest France: "I grew up watching Jay-Jay Okocha, Obafemi Martins, Nwankwo Kanu, and then Victor Osimhen. I watched the last play a lot, and then we played together, and he's a real model for me. I'm also a big fan of Robin Van Persie. He was the best for me."

Terem left Nigeria at the age of 17, finishing his studies in England at the Buckswood Football Academy. He told Ouest France: "I managed to get into an English school at the age of 17 because of football. I chose this life and I wanted to succeed in football. In life you mustn't stay in your comfort zone and you need to go out and make things happen. You need to take risks."

He joined Lithuanian club Kauno Zalgiris not long after going to England before heading to Zalgiris' fellow Lithuanian club FK Riteriai. Visa problems delayed his debut but he was prolific for Riteriai as he banged in 20 goals in 31 games, enough to see Kortrijk swoop in January 2020. Despite the pandemic, things again moved quickly for Moffi as on October 1 he left the Belgian league to move to France.

"Ligue 1 is a couple of levels above the Belgian game"

Moffi hasn't done things the straightforward way. Of his time in Lithuania, he commented: "I didn't know anything about the country. I had to go on to Google to see what it was like, the food, the culture. The start there was tricky as I had never experienced the cold before. It was difficult to adapt."

In Ligue 1 Uber Eats, Moffi has taken his game to a new level. He said: "Ligue 1 Uber Eats is a couple of levels above the Belgian game. I needed to adapt my style of play, het used to the opponents, progress both physically and tactically."

Pelissier: "I ask him to take risks"

1m88 tall, weighing in at 89 kilos and fast, Moffi is now terrorising Ligue 1 Uber Eats defences, including netting the winner against champions Paris Saint-Germain in January. Delighted Les Merlus coach Christophe Pelissier said: "He gets into space well and makes good runs. He has the capacity to turn quickly and go forward. Terem is generous and can play good passes as he's intelligent. I ask him to take risks. He's mentally fresh and hasn't been formated. He tries things and I encourage him to do that."