It’s now Three years since Victor Osimhen made his Bundesliga debut for Wolfsburg on 13 May 2017. A spell which the 21 year old Record goalscorer of the FIFA U-17 World Cup deems ‘The Most difficult time in his career’. On a quest to prove doubters wrong, Belgian outfit RSC Charleroi took a chance on him in the beginning of the 2018/19 season. Former Charleroi manager, Felice Mazzu’s faith in Osimhen was payed in full when the forward ended the season with 20 goals and 5 assists in all competitions.
In the summer of 2019, French club Lille — who had just sold Ivorian winger, Nicolás Pépé to Arsenal in a deal worth €80 million — announced that they’ve completed a €14 million deal for the Nigerian on the same day, August 1 2019.
The Lille tradition under Luís Campos continued, buy cheap and sell when their stock is high. A club where the likes of Eden Hazard and Gervinho made their name had just swiftly replaced the 2019 Winner of the Mac-Vivien Foe award with the next. Fans back home, Journalists and Pundits in Africa commended the move. What could be better than playing under a youthful manager like Christophe Galtier who’s handling the project of Europe’s Genius Sporting Director, Luís Campos? Osimhen would waste no time to establish himself.
Winning the September 2019 Player of the Month award ahead of PSG duo — Kylian Mbappé & Neymar Jr — after scoring seven times in his first nine matches. He would end the season with 18 goals and 6 Assists in all competitions. His excellent debut season saw him named Lille Player of the season for 2019/20 after the FFF (French Football Federation) ended the Ligue 1 campaign because of the increase in COVID-19 cases in France.
In a conversation with renowned Nigerian journalist Oma Akatugba of Omasports two months ago, Osimhen squashed rumours of a completed deal with Napoli calling it “fake news”.
The news relating to my agreement with Napoli is false. I am surprised by these journalists who claim to be professionals. Ignore this fake news on my account, when there is an agreement for my transfer you will know it directly from me
But on 30 July 2020, Sky Sport Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio reported that Osimhen had arrived Naples for transfer talks. Later that same day, Football Italia revealed the “Partenopei” have been trying to close a double deal worth €100 million for Brazilian defender Gabriel and Nigerian forward Osimhen. His brother-in-law claimed the “racism in Italy” would deter the Lille star and Akatugba who’s in contact with the player also revealed that the Nigerian is being forced against his will. Before we talk about why he should remain in Lille for at least another campaign, let’s dissect why Napoli isn’t an ideal destination.
Why not Napoli?
The De Laurentiis Factor
Napoli are owned by Aurelio De Laurentiis. A renowned Italian movie producer and Football businessman. Despite saving Napoli in 2004 and Bari in 2018 after both clubs were declared bankrupt, he’s known for selling Napoli’s finest talents to the highest bidders and not necessarily to the player’s dream club. In 2018, Manchester City revealed that De Laurentiis reneged on the agreement they had with him regarding the Jorginho transfer because the Film producer demanded an extra €8 million as compensation for the loss of Maurizio Sarri who was heading to Chelsea.
According to Sam Lee of Goal, Jorginho was “bullied” into moving to Stamford Bridge and was given an Ultimatum by De Laurentiis. At the end of the saga Chelsea announced the arrival of the Brazilian born midfielder and Sarri on the same day. Leaving Pep Guardiola & City perplexed at the unprofessional handling of the transfer from the Napoli President. What would happen in future (if Osimhen moves to Napoli) when Club A and Club B are interested in the Nigerian. Club B offering a sum just below A, but Osimhen’s dream is to move to B and he’s bullied to move to the former?
At Lille, Galtier emphasises on pressing and quick transition from defence to attack. Its no surprise Osimhen gets a lot of chances. Genarro Gatusso on the other hand is a ‘defend 1st’ manager. He focuses on a tighter defence line with step-by-step play. This wouldn’t suit Osimhen as he’d have to play in a slower system.
The Italian society is undoubtedly the most racist towards blacks & foreigners in Western Europe. In 2019, Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly — who moved to Napoli at the age of 24 and had not experienced any form of racism in his four years in France and Belgium — revealed in an interview with ‘The Player’s Tribune‘ that the first time he was subjected to racist abuse was in the Serie A, during a 2-0 win over Lazio in 2016. Two years later, he was the target of racist abuse by Inter fans.
We all saw what 18 year old Moise Kean passed through at Juventus, an Italian born to Ivorian parents faced racist chants for scoring the winner in a 2-0 win over Cagliari in 2019 from the Cagliari Ultras. At the end, he left Italy with a broken heart and joined Everton in the Premier league. These are two high-profile cases of Racism in Italy in recent years and if Osimhen should move to Napoli to do what he does best (score goals), then there’s fear he may face such shameful treatment. There’s literally no need for a Young player heading to the top to face be exposed to such a volatile environment.
Where should he go?
Osimhen has been linked with Tottenham in the past and Kicker reported a possible move to the Bundesliga to an ‘unnamed club’ interested in his services. While a move to North London would not be advisable because he will play second fiddle to Harry Kane, Germany isn’t a bad idea at all. My best guess is RB Leipzig, the former Club of the 2019/20 Bundesliga season’s second Top scorer, Timo Werner. Chelsea signing Werner means Julian Nagelsmaan has a void to fill in his attack.
Leipzig is a club with an extraordinary project focusing on developing young talents and are now a Regular Champions League side. The Bundesliga is the Hotbed of some of Europe’s finest talents and if he should leave Lille, teaming up with Dayot Upamecano, Christopher Nkunku & Nagelsmaan (Baby Mourinho) sounds more exciting than joining Dries Mertens, José Callejón & Gatusso.
One thing for sure is certain. On paper, Napoli looks like a bad idea and if Lille should not “bully” him to an exit, bigger and better offers would come. He’s a goalscorer who’s only going to improve gane after game. Whatever happens, he’s got the support of Nigerians but there’s no doubt that this is a dilemma Osimhen did not expect to find himself in.