The 26-year-old scored 15 goals and registered eight assists in 33 appearances across all competitions in 2022-23 on his way to being named the club’s Player of the Season
Ademola Lookman has stepped up as Nigeria’s unexpected talisman at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Before a ball was kicked at the tournament, star striker Victor Osimhen was heralded as the Super Eagles’ best chance of a fourth continental triumph.
But Atalanta winger Lookman has instead been the team’s main attacking threat en route to a final showdown with host nation Ivory Coast on Sunday.
After Nigeria’s semi-final victory over South Africa on penalties, we shine the spotlight on one of the stars of AFCON 2023.
Lookman has not had an easy ride, with underwhelming stints at Everton, RB Leipzig, Fulham and Leicester threatening to cast a shadow over his obvious talent.
However, moving to Serie A outfit Atalanta in August 2022 has proven to be an inspired decision.
The 26-year-old scored 15 goals and registered eight assists in 33 appearances across all competitions in 2022-23 on his way to being named the club’s Player of the Season.
He has 10 more goal contributions to his name this term, while also currently ranking inside Serie A’s top 30 for take-ons completed, big chances created and shots on target.
Lookman’s success in Bergamo has not been without difficulties, though.
Following a 3-2 defeat to Lazio last October, Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini questioned his mentality after a disappointing cameo from the bench.
The Italian coach said: “His [Lookman’s] attitude was almost as if being a substitute was unacceptable.”
But rather than wallowing in self pity, Lookman used the public criticism as motivation fuel, netting five goals and contributing three assists in the next 10 league matches before his AFCON call-up.