Ike Uche urges Chukwueze to continue his development at Villarreal

Samuel Chukwueze
Nigeria's Samuel Chukwueze is enjoying an impressive season with Spain's Villarreal

Ikechukwu Uche has told Villarreal forward and fellow Nigerian Samuel Chukwueze to treat growing transfer speculation as a compliment and continue to develop at his former club.

19-year-old Chukwueze is enjoying a breakthrough season, scoring in the Spanish La Liga, Europa League and Spanish Cup.

Chukwueze's form has caught the attention of clubs across Europe, but Uche - who is highly revered at Villarreal - believes the teenager's interest will be best served by staying.

"Chukwueze is doing well at Villarreal so it's only normal to have growing speculation about his future in the media, but he is in a good place," Uche told BBC Sport.

"He should treat all this attention as a compliment and continue to grow because his impressive rise from the reserves to the first team is still fresh.

"Villarreal is a good club, he is being taken care of and he's surrounded by quality players that will help him grow.

"The people there are dedicated to protecting and improving him, so there is no pressure on him."

Ikechukwu Uche
Ikechukwu Uche is revered at Villarreal where he played a big role in helping the club gain promotion back to the top flight in 2014.

Nigeria's fourth highest scorer with 19 goals, Uche joined Villarreal from Real Zaragoza in August 2011, but was immediately loaned out to then Spanish La Liga newboys Granada, for the 2011/12 season.

But he returned to relegated Villarreal for 2012-13 and emerged as top scorer with 14 goals to lead the team back to the top flight.

In 2013-14, Uche scored another 14 goals as the club finished in sixth place to secure a Europa League spot.

He believes his compatriot Chukwueze, who is capable of playing on either flank, is capable of making bigger impact at Estadio de la Cerámica.

"I've been following his progress and I know some of the people there, so let's just say he has the potential to become a successful player at the club," Uche added.

"I haven't had a chance to speak to him but personally I want him to stay.

"I'm sure he will do what is right for his career, I'm just happy to see another African and Nigerian making a positive impact at Villarreal."

Ivorian defender Eric Bailly and DR Congo's Cedric Bakambu are two notable Africans who have recently made big-money move from Villarreal.

Chukwueze has made 13 appearances this season for Villareal, scoring four goals for the La Liga side.

A Fifa under-17 World Cup winner with Nigeria in 2015, he has been likened to his hero and Bayern Munich's former Netherlands winger Arjen Robben.

Chukwueze - who came close to joining Arsenal in 2016 - arrived at Villarreal from Nigeria's Diamond Academy in August 2017.

Top Stories

Also in African sport