Nigerian defender Ola Aina will spend the 2020-21 season on loan at newly-promoted Fulham, having agreed a deal to join the Cottagers from Serie A side Torino earlier this month. The transfer sees the Super Eagles star return to England, where he started his football career.
“I feel very excited and privileged to be able to play for a club like this,” Aina said of his move to Fulham. “It feels amazing to be back closer to my family, back in the capital [London] where I was born and raised. There’s a great bunch of lads here. I’m really good friends with Big Hec (Michael Hector) and Josh Onomah.”
The wingback will allow Fulham some flexibility in their defense, with manager Scott Parker perhaps tempted to play a back three and allow Aina to dominate one side of the pitch with his pace and stamina.
“I feel very comfortable on either foot, I can fill in wherever needs be. I’d say I’m pretty quick and I like to attack, but I also like to help the team and do the dirty work as much as I can,” said the 23-year-old, who has 17 Nigeria caps to his name.
“Ola is an exciting young player who can further strengthen our squad this season in the Premier League,” said Fulham director of football Tony Khan.
“In our loan agreement, we’ve secured an option for a permanent transfer for Ola to potentially remain at Fulham if this season proves to be a good fit for us, which is a great situation for the club given our belief in Ola’s talent and in his potential. Come on Fulham!”
Aina has played in the Premier League before, featuring in three matches for Chelsea between 2015 and 2019. However, most of his senior experience has come in Italy, where he was on loan with Torino in 2018-19, before the switch was made permanent for the 2019-20 season.
All in all, Aina made 69 competitive appearances for ‘Il Toro’ in the past two seasons, racking up 15 yellow cards, one red card, six assists and one goal. He will be sorely missed by the Turin club, but Aina’s high-intensity game is better suited to the fast and furious Premier League.