ALVISE CAGNAZZO: Victor Osimhen is hot property after spearheading Napoli’s Serie A triumph as the likes of Man United and Chelsea circle… but the £104m forward is one of four jewels in the crown they MUST keep to maintain dominance in Italy
- Osimhen has been sensational for Napoli this term, scoring 23 goals in 29 games
- Now the 24-year-old is attracting interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs
- Napoli, determined to keep hold of him, are set to launch a final contract offer
Napoli sensation Victor Osimhen became the highest scoring African footballer in Serie A history by netting the only goal in their win over Fiorentina last week.
His match-winning penalty, the 23rd of a remarkable season which has propelled Napoli to its first Scudetto since 1990, was goal No 47 in Italy’s top flight, taking him past former AC Milan star George Weah, a Ballon d’Or winner in the 90s, in the history books.
Weah had produced his tally of 46 Serie A goals from 1995 to 2000, yet Osimhen has set a new record for African players in two years fewer.
Just like the Liberian striker, Nigeria’s Osimhen is a panther-like forward who scores extraordinary goals and has the speed to match Arsenal legend Thierry Henry in his prime.
Though unlike Henry, the 24-year-old has been scoring regular goals since his late teenage years, proving himself a concrete centre forward, a true number nine.
Napoli striker Victor Osimhen became the highest scoring African in Serie A history
Osimhen’s penalty handed Napoli win over Fiorentina last week and took his tally to 23 goals
Napoli lost their latest game 2-0 against Monza but the title is already in the bag
After delivering a Scudetto which had been missing in Naples for 33 years, there is now much apprehension about Osimhen’s future in the city. The player has gained international acclaim on the back of his terrific season, and he has already admitted his dream to one day play in the Premier League.
‘I do my best to achieve my goals and maybe play in the Premier League one day,’ he told Sky Sports, ‘but I’m enjoying the moment.’
He has surpassed Liberian striker George Weah as Serie A’s all-time top African scorer
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis recently told Cinque Minuti that he has no intention of selling Osimhen, who has two years to run on his contract, despite failing to mention any details of a potential renewal.
‘I will not sell Osimhen. They offered me €2.5billion (£2million) for my group and then €1billion for Napoli, I refused both offers,’ he said. ‘We need to make precise budgets based on what the market offers, being entrepreneurs: in football, as in life, there are various types.’
The question that Napoli fans continue to ask in every corner of the city reveals many concerns: what would happen if the player asks for a move to the Premier League? A legitimate question given his recent admission to Sky Sports.
Giovanni Simeone and Giacomo Raspadori are excellent strikers but they cannot even remotely be considered sufficient replacements for Osimhen. For this reason, selling the African striker would force Napoli to search for another top centre forward in the market.
Osimhen’s contract expires in 2025 but Napoli, also considering the words of De Laurentiis, want to lock him down to a new deal as soon as possible and deter potential bids from abroad by adding lucrative bonuses to his current €4.5million (£4million). As things stand, however, no official offer has been made.
Napoli face a fight to keep hold of Osimhen this summer with a host of top clubs circling
Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis is desperate to tie him down to an extended contract
In the coming weeks, the club will submit their final proposal and Osimhen will weigh up what to do next.
While Napoli are desperate to keep him, doubts remain over the commitment of a player who knows he is currently one of the top three strikers in Europe. Were he to sign a contract in the Premier League today he would earn three times the salary he currently brings home in Serie A.
According to Tuttosport, the Nigeria international is attracting attention from a host of top foreign clubs, including Chelsea, PSG and Bayern Munich – but above all Manchester United, who have been on the hunt for a centre forward for some time. Up to now, though, Napoli have rejected every approach for Osimhen.
Without him, Napoli would lose 50 per cent of their attacking potential but rake in upwards of €120million (£104million), making an exceptional financial gain. Their desire to win the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history is real, but Osimhen will need assurances over the investments they plan to make to launch another title bid and help him remain top scorer in Serie A next season.
In Naples he is a king, an extraordinary man who has found immense warmth and affection that he never received in France with Lille.
But the Nigerian is one of four jewels in the crown Napoli must keep, along with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (left), Stanislav Lobotka (centre) and Kim Min-jae (right)
Right now Napoli has a potentially unrepeatable opportunity to begin a cycle of consecutive victories. And to do so, it is essential for them to keep at least three of the four jewels in their crown.
Along with Osimhen, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Stanislav Lobotka and Kim Min-jae represent the four reference points of the team and, as things stand, Kim appears the only player close to waving goodbye to Serie A for around €60million (£52million).
Yet unlike the South Korean defender, Osimhen is considered irreplaceable by Napoli staff as well as the perfect striker for Luciano Spalletti’s system.
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