If you’re a 21-year-old centre-forward looking to make a name for yourself on the continental stage, a dramatic late winner against Manchester United in a European knock-out tie is one way to attract the limelight.
Nicking the ball off Juan Mata’s toes on the edge of United’s penalty area, Paul Onuachu swivelled on a sixpence and drilled the most precise of shots past a despairing Sergio Romero, sparking wild celebrations in the stands and ensuring that February 18th 2016 would be a date that no one connected with FC Midtjylland would forget in a hurry.
And it’s no coincidence that, just two days later, Onuachu was making headlines over in Denmark again, transfer speculation the inevitable result of scoring one of the most famous goals in Midtjylland’s history.
“It is the case that he’s on the radar of many English clubs,” Midtjylland director Claus Steinlein admitted to Danish publication BT.
According to Tipsbladet, Leicester City, Chelsea, Aston Villa and Southampton were all expressing an interest at the time.
“He is worth a lot of money. Of course, clubs are starting to come over here to have a look. We get more scout visits, and there will probably also be more from England to see if (his goal against Man United) was just luck, or if he is really that good.”
Is Paul Onuachu finally on his way to the Premier League?
Few – especially Steinlein – would have predicted that Onuachu would still be leading the line for Midtjylland when 2019 rolled around.
And when the time came for the 6ft 7ins Nigeria international to fly the nest at last, his destination was KRC Genk, rather than Chelsea or Leicester City.
In fact, it is only now, five-and-a-half years after he ramped up the pressure on Louis Van Gaal and sparked celebrations on the streets of Jutland, that Onuachu is back on the radar of Premier League scouts – including two clubs who made their interest known all the way back in February 2016.
As have an Aston Villa side who have suffered four straight Premier League defeats (Corriere dello Sport).
Onuachu scored a career-best 35 goals for Genk last season and has 12 in 18 games to his name this time around.
And while it seems unlikely that he’d be able to replicate those sort of numbers on English soil, another winner or two against a Premier League colossus like Manchester United would go a long way to paying back a rumoured £20 million price-tag.