Nathan Tella: Who is Bayer Leverkusen's England winger tasked with filling Moussa Diaby's shoes?


Bayer Leverkusen have snapped up England winger Nathan Tella from Southampton, but who is the 24-year-old flier and why is he the man to fill Moussa Diaby's shoes? bundesliga.com has the lowdown...

Data correct as of 27 August 2023

Nathan Tella

Age: 24 (born: 5 July 1999)
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Winger
Country: England

Key stats

Tella initially started out life as a footballer in Arsenal's youth academy, where he spent 10 years before moving to Southampton as a 17-year-old in 2017 - just three months before his 18th birthday and following unsuccessful trials at both Reading and Norwich. With Saints, Tella made his professional debut in the EFL Trophy for the club's U23 side during the 2017/18 campaign and went on to earn a first senior appearance with a two minute cameo against Norwich in the Premier League on 19 June, 2020.

It was away from Southampton that Tella delivered his best season, though, as he helped Burnley to the 2022/23 Championship title while his parent club suffered relegation from England's top-flight. Tella was the club's top-scorer with 17 goals in 39 league appearances that year as Burnley romped the division and collected 101 points in the process. Tella started the following season brightly with Southampton, scoring one goal and registering another assist in three outings before Leverkusen got his signature on 27 August, 2023.

Plays a bit like: Moussa Diaby

Although not a like-for-like replacement with Diaby in some regards - Tella being right-footed and the Frenchman a lefty - there are key similarities between the pair. Like his predecessor, Tella is a pacey winger who loves dribbling at his opponents and in 2022/23 finally paired his standout traits with a deadliness in front of goal which he previously hadn't shown consistently.

Diaby also stepped up his game that season and, although you won't see Tella cutting on his left from the right as much as the France international, he too can play all across the front line and will look to stretch defences by running in behind as much as possible. 

Did you know?

Born in Lambeth, a borough of South London, to Nigerian parents, Tella is able to represent both England and Nigeria. He hasn't played youth football for either of the nations, but has made it clear that it's the Super Eagles that he'd like to represent on the world stage.

"I would love to play international football," Tella told HampshireLive in April, 2023. "That’s always been a dream of mine. If I went away with Nigeria, it would be something new and new experiences bring out the best in players... I’m always keeping an eye on AFCON. I’m Nigerian, so I always want to focus and watch the games."

What they're saying

"Lots of young players from the Premier League have had the chance to play in the Bundesliga and were able to improve significantly here. And I find the stadiums and the whole fan culture exciting." - Tella after penning a five-year deal with Die Werkself

"We have gained a fast winger who can score, who brings experience with him but also has the potential to develop." - Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes

"He has been doing really well and before anything else, I must mention his effort. It's so important to point that out. He has goalscoring ability but many with that ability don't put the work in for the team but he does. He has all the tools and helps us in so many ways, not just goalscoring." - Burnley boss Vincent Kompany during Tella's successful loan spell at the club