Rankings: Bayern's Joshua Zirkzee leads Nigeria's Bundesliga players

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The German Bundesliga was the first of the major European leagues to return to action after the coronavirus pandemic-enforced hiatus, and, as was to be expected, the first to conclude the season.

ESPN assesses the performances of players of Nigerian origin in the league who play for the Super Eagles, or may do so in the near future.

1. Joshua Zirkzee (Bayern Munich)

Not many youngsters can lay claim to the sort of impact or success that Zirkzee has enjoyed in his breakthrough season with Bayern.

Handed his debut at barely 18 years, the youngster wasted no time announcing himself to the league and the world: Bayern were deadlocked at 1-1 with SC Freiburg, and desperately in need of a goal, when the Netherlands junior international of Nigerian origin was thrown on in the 90th minute.

Within two minutes, he had scored the goal that set them on the way to a 3-1 win.

Whether the Freiburg defenders did not see fit to reckon with the wet-behind-the-ears kid, or whether it was something else, Zirkzee found himself in acres of space in the box and reacted sharply to poke home from close range.

Two days later, he did the same, coming off the bench to score with his first touch against VfL Wolfsburg.

He capped a fine season with a superb, reactive volley against Borussia Monchengladbach as Bayern romped to the title.

Nine Bundesliga appearances, four goals (from 295 total minutes of play) and a championship in his pocket, all within six months and with barely half a season of senior league football under this belt, is a remarkable achievement for a player who turned 19 this May.

2. Kingsley Ehizibue (FC Cologne)

The former Netherlands youth international announced his commitment to play for Nigeria only recently, but his progress with FC Cologne this season has been nothing short of excellent.

Not often do defenders come away with a man-of-the-match award, but the 25-year-old scooped the gong in February after helping his side to a 4-0 win over Freiburg -- scoring his first goal in the Bundesliga in what was just about the best performance of his career.

One of the first names on Markus Gisdol's team sheet, Ehizibue made 31 Bundesliga appearances in becoming an integral piece of the team that finished the season in 14th place on the log.

3. Felix Uduokhai (FC Augsburg)

Few things say 'well done' more than a club deciding to exercise their option to buy a player after a short loan spell; if anybody deserves that vote of confidence, it is Uduokhai.

The defender joined Augsburg on loan from Wolfsburg at the start of the season, and was so consistently imperious for the Fuggerstadter that they had no choice but to keep him.

Uduokhai was so motivated that he almost opened his Bundesliga account against his parent club, but VAR ruled his goal out.

And guess who claimed man-of-the-match honours when Augsburg routed Schalke 04 3-0 in May?

His season will also be remembered for the unsavory, however, as he was involved in the head collision that saw Taiwo Awoniyi knocked out and sent him to hospital. The players kissed and made up, according to Awoniyi; nothing intentional and no permanent harm done.

4. Jordan Torunarigha (Hertha Berlin)

Even before COVID-19 appeared with its uniquely unexpected brand of global chaos, Hertha Berlin had been afflicted by turbulence of their own. Nothing they aren't used to, truth be told.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann stunned the club by stepping down from the post in February, barely three months and 12 games into his tenure, alleging a lack of support from the club hierarchy.

Before that, Torunarigha had suffered racist abuse from fans of Schalke during a German Cup game that saw him break down in tears and then get sent off for a reaction.

But the 22-year-old defender has emerged from this chaos.

From being a substitute before authorities suspended the Bundesliga, he finished the season as the only player not to miss a single game after Bruno Labbadia took over. And he did not forget his striking roots, weighing in with one goal and one assist from the back.

Torunarigha is big and strong at 6'2", and his breakthrough this season from substitute to bulwark might be a sign of how far he can go if he maintains the consistency.

5. Anthony Ujah (FC Union Berlin)

Newly promoted Union Berlin signed Ujah from Mainz at the start of the season, and must have been hopeful that his experience and goals would be the tonic they needed to make challenge in the Bundesliga.

Ujah's three goals and two assists from 24 appearances did not set the league on fire, but his contribution did help the team finish 11th on the log, ahead of more established teams.

6. Jamilu Collins (SC Paderborn 07)

Playing for the team that finished bottom of the league may not be the best place to stand out, but Collins did just that -- showing up multiple times at left back as he and his teammates fought to retain their Bundesliga status.

He scored once, weighed in with two assists, and even managed a man-of-the-match performance from his 30 appearances.

The left back hopes he will have shown that he has what it takes to stay in the Bundesliga when the transfer window opens.

7. Taiwo Awoniyi (Mainz)

With about two-thirds of the season gone, the Liverpool loanee's spell in Germany was not going very well; he was barely getting minutes, and had made only six appearances before the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

Things were so bad that the Reds were considering recalling him from Germany and sending him elsewhere.

His season appeared to be on the cusp of lift-off when he scored in Mainz's first game after the restart, but his season was interrupted again by a clash of heads that saw him hospitalized just as he had worked his way into the starting team.

The 22-year-old missed Mainz's final two games of the season, but that will not matter much when he returns to Anfield to decide his immediate future in the off-season.

He seems unlikely to break into the Liverpool side, however, so a permanent move away could be on the cards.

8. Noah Joel Sarenren-Bazee (FC Augsburg)

A series of injuries sidelined the forward for the first half of the Bundesliga season, but it is a credit to him that he found the target in his second straight start since the return of football.

Sarenren-Bazee scored his first goal of the season for Augsburg only in late May, in just his fourth appearance for the team. He failed to find the net again after that, however, and he finished the season with 10 appearances.

It was by no means a satisfactory season for the forward, who also missed the chance to make his international debut, due to to injury, but he will be heartened by his performances when healthy -- games that included one man-of-the-match award and beaten to a second by teammate Philip Max.

9. Ademola Lookman (RB Leipzig)

It is amazing how horribly pear-shaped things have gone for Lookman since he returned to Leipzig on a permanent basis after a successful loan spell from Everton.

He scored five goals in 11 appearances in his previous time at the club, when he looked poised to deliver even more with some stability.

But with former manager Ralf Rangnick's move upstairs to become Head of Sport and Development at Red Bull, Lookman's career has stalled under new coach Julian Nagelsmann.

He made just one start and finished with 11 total appearances all season -- getting neither a single goal nor assist for the campaign.

Leipzig are now looking to ship him off to Newcastle United in the English Premier League.

10. Suleiman Abdullahi (Union Berlin)

Abdullahi barely made a dent during the season as he made only six appearances, scoring once in a Union Berlin side that was not particularly brimming with sharpshooters.

He will need to do more to get on the radar next season.