Leicester's Wilfred Ndidi makes debut atop Nigeria Power Rankings

Nigerian players have posted superb performances all year long in 2020 -- when they were able to.

And they continued their jostling for places in the ESPN Nigerian Player Rankings, with even more eye-catching performances through the final month of the year.

Wilfred Ndidi claimed the top spot for the first time in the rankings, and he was not the only deep-lying player to rise to the top in a list that is usually attacker-heavy.

1. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City)

After three months out with a groin injury, Ndidi returned to Leicester City's starting lineup for their UEFA Europe League meeting with Zorya Luhansk in Ukraine. Within just a few games, it was like he had never left.

The Nigerian, a near indispensable part of the Foxes' XI, slotted in as if he had never left, winning tackles, making recoveries and offering the protection of the back four that Leicester had missed in his absence.

The highlight of his game in return was seen in the 2-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur, against whom the midfielder made 19 recoveries, the most of any player in a Premier League game in a year. Squawka called it "an incredible performance." He followed that with a game-high seven tackles in the 2-2 draw against Manchester United, the first time the Old Trafford team had dropped points away from home in the Premier League.

It was no surprise that he made the Premier League Team of the Week and even less so, having been in and out of these rankings, that he finally earned his position on the top of the pile.

2. Paul Onuachu (Racing Genk)

Few players have been as consistent in these rankings as Onuachu. The forward has become something of a cliche with the contrast between his abysmal international performances and his sterling clinical efficiency at club level.

He opened the month as he had finished November, with a brace for Genk -- this time in a 4-2 win over Royal Antwerp. The first goal was a low, driven finish after ghosting in from the back post to draw his side level. He scored the second from the same back stick, again arriving unnoticed to poke home from close range.

Knowing the danger he presents in the penalty area, it is a wonder that defenders continue to let him wander unrestricted in their box; seeing as they allow him to roam free, Onuachu simply takes advantage.

He closed the last game with of the month with a chipped finish in Genk's 1-1 draw against Waasland-Beveren to take his tally to three for the month and 15 or the season.

3. Taiwo Awoniyi (FC Union Berlin)

You know you are doing something very right when your own club takes to social media to sing your praises after a particularly impressive display against one of the top sides in the league.

That his exactly what happened to Awoniyi, after his final goal of December contributed to a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund.

He missed a wonderful opportunity in the first half, when one on one with the goalkeeper, but made no mistake when presented with another chance, sneaking in behind the defender to stoop and head home from close range.

Still, FC Union were pleased enough to drop this on social: "We are so proud of you tonight. Three amazing performances when we have injuries in that position. What a hero!"

Those three performances included goals against VfB Stuttgart and crosstown rivals Hertha Berlin, and he missed opportunities to score against Bayern Munich.

4. David Okereke (Club Brugge)

Of the four goals Okereke has scored in the Belgian Jupiler League this season, three have come in a steaming-hot December.

The 23-year-old's goal in his team's first league game of the month, against Sint-Truidense, was a simple guided finish.

He needed another three games to find the back of the net again -- and in truth he should have scored a brace on the night against KV Mechelen, but the goalkeeper made a stupendous save with Brugge leading 2-0 before the Nigerian striker scored with a close-range rocket into the roof of the net to seal the 3-0 win.

His final contribution of the month came in Brugge's final game of the month, another 3-0 win, against Eupen on Boxing Day.

5. Leon Balogun (Rangers)

Rangers lost to St Mirren in the Scottish League Cup, but still the Glasgow giants Rangers are riding a phenomenal crest -- winning Scottish Premiership games almost at will to stand 19 points clear of bitter rivals Celtic atop the table having kept five clean sheets from their eight games in December.

Balogun has been a bulwark in the clean-sheet defence, and it is worth noting that he had just been substituted when Rangers conceded the winning goal to St Mirren in that League Cup reverse.

The defender has not only been one of the shinning lights for the Gers, but also one of the more consistent Nigerian players in Europe this season.

Oh, and, yes, Rangers exacted revenge over their League Cup conquerors with a 2-0 win in their the last league fixture of December.

6. Alex Iwobi (Everton)

Everton are enjoying life in the rarefied heights of the top four of the Premier League table, and it is no mistake to say that Iwobi has is playing a key part of their dizzying run.

Since being converted to a wingback, the Nigerian has impressed not just the manager but also Toffees fans.

With more space to exploit in front of him, Iwobi is influencing the game more from deep and creating more opportunities.

One such marauding run set up Richarlison for the opening goal of Everton's 2-0 win at Leicester City, Iwobi taking advantage of the space to switch play to the Brazilian before creating even more space for him by making a run in behind to open up the view in front of the scorer.

7. Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto)

What a December it has been for Sanusi. After scoring his first UEFA Champions League goal in November, he followed up by scoring his first league goal of the season for Porto in December, opening his account with a fourth-minute goal in the 4-3 win over Tondela.

He then claimed his first trophy with the club, as Porto defeated Benfica 2-0 to win the Portuguese Super Cup.

8. Semi Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion)

It has not been a great season for Ajayi and West Brom, who seems destined to go back down to the Championship despite the hiring of Sam Allardyce.

But there was something to cheer in a heroic performance against champions Liverpool, against whom the Baggies claimed a 1-1 draw at Anfield. The icing on the cake? Ajayi's headed goal to tie the game.

9. Kevin Akpoguma (TSG Hoffenheim)

December was a month of goalscoring Nigerian defenders.

After making his Nigeria debut in November, Akpoguma scored the first goal of his Hoffenheim career in a 2-2 draw against SpVgg Greuther Furth in the German DFB Pokal.

The goal did not result in more joy for the defender, as his team were eliminated from the cup competition after losing a penalty shootout 7-6.

10. Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam)

Okoye is another player who is definitely enjoying the benefits of having become a freshly minted international.

The goalkeeper has carried over his good form for Nigeria into his club performances, and he is producing fine saves game after game.

Okoye has annexed the No. 1 shirt for both Nigeria and Sparta, and, in December, he helped the Rotterdam club to three wins from four, including their final fixture of the month, in which he kept a clean sheet.