Rita Chikwelu has joined Madrid CFF in the Spanish Women’s League from Swedish outfit Kristianstad.
The midfielder becomes the 16th African player to move to Spain, after spending the last 10 years in Sweden.
The 31-year-old joins Madrid on a six-month, where fellow Nigerian Chidinma Okeke plays her trade.
Chikwelu scored 60 goals while at Umea IK and Kristianstad.
“This is a different and competitive league, as a footballer you want to test yourself around the best players,” said Rita on her move.
“The Spanish league is an interesting place for African players and I believe this will continue to help develop our players’ game and their profile.”
She was part of the Nigeria teams that were victorious in the 2016 and 2018 African Women’s Cup of Nations.
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The midfielder played a vital part in the Super Falcons’ World Cup campaign last year, where they reached the knockout stages of the competition for the first time since 1999.
The 31-year-old has been named African Women’s player of the year on four occasions and could be considered a coup signing for the 16-team league.
With more Women’s leagues and team becoming professional, this now gives players more options to chose from.
The favoured choice for players used to be the United States or Scandinavia, but now clubs in England, China and France are offering good professional deals.
Spain’s top-flight is ever-growing and attracting African players of the highest calibre, with the likes of Asisat Oshoala (Barcelona) and Barbara Banda (EdF Logrono) raising the profile of the league.
Christopher Atkins of RWMG Sports Management thinks, despite Chinese clubs being able to offer big financial incentives to African players, the treatment from Spanish clubs toward their players “are excellent” and make “them feel at home.”
Chiwelu will wear the number 22 in the Spanish capital.