KENNETH OMERUO’S classy World Cup showings have damaged Middlesbrough’s prospects of re-signing the Chelsea centre-half this summer.
Omeruo, who spent the second half of last season on loan at the Riverside, was one of Nigeria’s star performers as they kept their hopes of progressing to the World Cup knock-out stages alive with a 1-0 win over Bosnia on Saturday night.
The 20-year-old played superbly alongside Joseph Yobo to shackle a Bosnia attack that featured Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko.
FIFA’s official website has included Omeruo on its list of potential candidates for the Young Player of the Tournament award, and his name is known to feature on a number of Premier League clubs’ scouting lists in Brazil.
Aitor Karanka has already confirmed his desire to re-sign Omeruo to Jose Mourinho, but competing interest from Premier League clubs would dent Boro’s chances of persuading the Nigerian to drop into the Championship for the second season in succession.
Omeruo was willing to play in the second tier last term to get match time ahead of the World Cup, but if he is offered a loan move in the Premier League next season, he is unlikely to turn it down.
Saturday’s win over Bosnia means Nigeria need a point from their final group game against Argentina to guarantee a place in the last 16. If they slip up against the South Americans, they will be reliant on Bosnia taking at least a point against Iran if they are not to rely on goal difference to progress.
“It was a good game (against Bosnia) and I thank the effort of the team,” said Omeruo. “The team did great, and as a defensive line, we covered each other well.
“Dzeko is a smart player. You have to stay switched on the whole game because one moment you think he’s not focused and, before you know it, he makes a run. But the coverage was wonderful.”