With the Vancouver Whitecaps set to make a "major player announcement" during a 9:30 a.m. (Pacific time) press conference, speculation is building that Gambian international Mustapha Jarju will be the first Designated Player to have competed for an African nation at the senior level. Jarju most recently played for the recently promoted RAEC Mons, now of the Belgian First Division.
A series of clues as to the to DP's identity were left by Nigerian journalist Colin Udoh on Twitter over the past few days. Udoh said the player was from West Africa, scored 20 goals in Europe last season, captained his U17 team and was not a well-known name. Udoh fits all those criteria almost perfectly. The 23-year-old scored 21 goals across all competitions last season and has made nine appearances for Gambia, scoring twice.
Adding a bit of relevance to the rumor are reports that Jarju recently refused to meet with RAEC officials about signing a new contract. Assuming that report is accurate, Jarju would be a free, meaning the Whitecaps could sign him without paying a transfer fee.
The signing of a player like Jarju would seem to fit the Whitecaps' preferred strategy when it comes to DPs. Eric Hassli's, the team's current DP, was hardly a known quantity when he joined the Whitecaps after playing most of his career in Switzerland.