Remember Musa Yahaya? It's quite possible you don't. He's the mystery man at Tottenham Hotspur, a highly rated Nigerian youngster whom Spurs supposedly signed, but under weird circumstances. We think he has trained with Spurs and played in a few development squad friendlies, but no one at Spurs has confirmed that he's actually there. We know he played for Nigeria in the U20 World Cup this summer as a wide midfielder where he did quite well. Based on the little we've seen of him and his stated potential we ranked him #11 on our list of Tottenham youth prospects. He's apparently extremely good and signing him would be a major coup.
Now he's in the news again, but as with virtually everything coming out of the Nigerian footballing world, it's weird and somewhat untrustworthy. A report from the Nigerian Bulletin suggests that Yahaya has gone AWOL from his Nigeria U23 training camp, and has been ruled out of the upcoming CAF U23 Championship qualifier against the Congo. While it seems that he received permission from his coach to leave camp, he hasn't yet returned to the team as promised.
Weird, right? But there's a twist: a second report from News 24 Nigeria has quotes from a Yahaya "intermediary" named Babawo Mohammed who suggests that he might now be back in London training with Spurs... with a visa.
"Musa Yahaya did not run away from camp, he asked for permission and the coach granted him to leave. 'Siasia authorized him to go to the embassy and submit his visa application to England. I repeat he did not run away.
'He is in England now training with Tottenham Hotspur's Under 18 and Under 19 teams."
Now, it's pretty important that you take whatever comes from "player representatives" in Nigeria with a huge grain of salt. That's not to say that what Mohammed is saying isn't truthful or accurate, but the Nigerian football federation is deeply, deeply troubled, historically corrupt, and very poorly run. It's part of what makes this story so compelling, and so weird. We don't know where Musa Yahaya is right now, if he's run away from the Nigerian youth leagues or if he's in London. We don't know if Babawo Mohammed is in any way actually connected with Yahaya. We don't even know for sure that he's a Tottenham Hotspur player.
If what Mohammed says is true, then it could be very good news for both Yahaya and Spurs. If Yahaya is able to get a visa, that suggests that a work permit is either likely or has already been approved; from my research, usually approval for the work permit comes first, followed by the visa application for travel to the UK.
On the other hand, we just simply don't know. Nobody's admitted to seeing Yahaya in London or training with Spurs (yet), nor has the club made any formal statement about Yahaya whatsoever. Nailing down Yahaya to a professional contract would be excellent news for his development and for the youth program at Spurs, but we may have to wait for official word to come from Tottenham Hotspur in order to finally separate truth from fiction.
UPDATE: Spurs youth team expert Windy has clarified things slightly with regards to Yahaya's current status and location.