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Tuesday July 28 2020
Osimhen can light up Napoli

With Victor Osimhen set to become Napoli’s most expensive signing ever, Vilizar Yakimov explains why the Partenopei were so keen to bring in the 21-year-old Nigerian striker.

It might sound strange, but 2020 just keeps getting better and better for Napoli from a footballing point of view.

The Partenopei were a complete mess back in December when the infamous row between the players and the club resulted in Carlo Ancelotti’s sacking. However, Gennaro Gattuso has been doing wonders ever since, winning the Coppa Italia and building a solid foundation for next season.

Putting the results aside, Napoli have done extremely well in the January transfer window, bringing in Diego Demme, Stanislav Lobotka and Matteo Politano, while also securing the services of Amir Rrahmani from Verona and SPAL’s top goalscorer Andrea Petagna for next term.

While Aurelio De Laurentiis has done well to add quality and depth to the squad, it’s hard to say that any of those signings bring the excitement that the Napoletani are used to seeing. That’s where Victor Osimhen comes in.

The 21-year-old striker is set to become Napoli’s most expensive signing ever, as the Partenopei are set to pay a stunning €50m plus Orestis Karnezis and bonuses to Lille OSC for the Nigerian talent. The reports of €81m seem far-fetched and probably included the wages for his entire contract. It’s still a lot more than the Partenopei paid for their current most expensive acquisition Hirving Lozano, who arrived for €42m from PSV Eindhoven last summer.

It’s obvious that even for €50m the expectations towards Osimhen will go way beyond the pure excitement that such a signing brings, but what exactly can he bring to Napoli?

The Nigerian’s numbers clearly can’t justify his gigantic rumoured €81m transfer fee, as Osimhen scored 18 goals and four assists in all competitions for Lille, before Ligue 1 was cancelled due to the COVID situation. However, his age and playing style are what make him perfect for Napoli, as the 185cm tall striker possess impressive speed and physique, while his off the ball movement is simply remarkable.

Osimhen is a player who likes to run in the channels and behind the back of opposition defences, which makes him a good for Napoli’s playing style. His acceleration and ability to run with the ball also mean he would be perfect for Gattuso’s counter-attacking approach in certain games.

While neither Arkadiusz Milik nor Dries Mertens combine those qualities, Osimhen’s biggest advantage over them is the intensity of his pressing gamе. The Nigerian averages 1.3 recoveries in the final third, which is significantly higher than Milik’s 0.9, while his speed and agility are far superior to those of Mertens, who at 33, often loses some of his intensity in the latter stages of games.

Osimhen’s presence in Napoli’s attack would allow the Partenopei to recover possession much easier and in more advanced areas of the pitch, while his speed and positioning in the penalty area will make the transition from defence to attack much smoother. This is further highlighted by Osimhen’s 78.9% progressive passes success rate, which is equal to Mertens, but significantly higher than Milik’s 64%.

In terms of shooting, Osimhen is also far more composed than his age might suggest, as 44% of his shots hit the target, which is much better than Mertens’ 35%. Milik’s stats look similar in that regard, but considering that the Pole seems eager to leave, it would certainly help if Napoli have a player of similar height and shooting accuracy.

The Nigerian’s technical ability is not to be underestimated as well, as although he is right-footed, he is also very capable with his left, scoring seven goals with his supposed weaker foot.

Of course, pointing out only the strong aspects of Osimhen’s game would be wrong, so just like Martin Schmidt who used to coach him at Wolfsburg admitted recently, the youngster still has a long way to go tactically. However, he already has remarkable speed and athleticism, so he already is a very strong player.

Mentality wise, just like every young player, the 21-year-old needs to improve his concentration, but he plays with such fire and passion that could potentially make him instrumental for Gattuso’s vision of the team.

Despite all this, the fact remains that Osimhen’s transfer is a huge gamble for Napoli. Becoming Napoli’s most expensive signing ever and one of the most expensive African players of all time surely comes with a burden, so the big risk here is to avoid the exaggerated transfer fee putting in unrealistic expectations towards the player.

It is no coincidence that the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have shown interest in the Nigerian, so there is little doubt that Osihmen can light up Naples. He just needs to be given the chance.

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Have your say...
Napoli already recoup 75m from sales of Sepe, Chiriches, Rog, Grassi and Inglese.
So that already covers Osimhen and maybe Boga.
Allan and Milik sales would bring in serious €€€.

They do not have to sell playets want to keep to finance required incomings.
on the 30th July, 2020 at 3:48pm
@SackSarri

Napoli still have players they can sell for good money. Milik alone will cover most of the Osimhen transfer and they still have Allan, Ghoulam, Ounas, Younes who can be sold without weakening the team. Then Callejons wages will be off the books and if they really need more funds Koulibaly (who hasn't been as good this season) or Lozano can be moved on. Napoli are well set for a strong season next year.
on the 29th July, 2020 at 11:32am
Seems Napoli have to sell Koulibaly for the fund and it is more loss than the gain. Gattuso’s tactic is based on solid defense and counter attack. 50m for a unproven player and it is a gamble that Napoli can’t afford. For the worse, Napoli need at least two more attackers but they don’t have the money. I expect Napoli to be out of top 4 again next season and Gattuso will be sacked in the middle season.
on the 29th July, 2020 at 9:02am
Gatusso is an idiot wasting Lozano's best years. He is a stubborn mule and I hope Lozano leaves before his career is ruined by the gatuso mule. there are two types of coaches. Those that exploit the talents of their players and place them in their proper position and those that try to suppress a players talent and play then as and where they want.
on the 29th July, 2020 at 7:02am
I feel this season Napoli need to make some serious changes. This signing along with Patenga is exactly what they need. Two very different goal scorers than what we are used to should give us much more than we have had and can hopefully make us compete. When I watch Napoli, I see a side lacking in goals when they need them. Hopefully the signings can change that. I believe it’s time for some Major players to move on like KK, calejon, Milik, and possibly Zielinski. I’d be pushing for Chiesa.
on the 28th July, 2020 at 9:49pm
Big gamble from ADL, mainly because the price is too high. Even €50-60m is still way too much. This is only his breakout season. Osimhen is even less proven than Pepe, who’s unable to justify his €80m price tag in arsenal. It’s even more risky for napoli since their budget is obviously not as big as english clubs.
It’d be wiser if they invest their fund in LB/RB and proven CF like Bellotti or immobile (well maybe a bit too old and it’s a pain to negotiate with Lotito).
on the 28th July, 2020 at 8:38pm
Osimhen or not Osimhen, as long as Napoli continue to obey the Camorra by always playing the untouchable Insigne no matter how badly he plays, and continue to shoot themselves in the foot by sacrificing their best player MERTENS, they will never win a single thing, NO ONE CAN WIN ANYTHING PLAYNG WITH 10MEN AGAINST 12, since playing Insigne is not just playing with 10 men but giving an exra men to the opposition, he is a liability.
on the 28th July, 2020 at 7:48pm
I have been looking at Napolis stats for this season compared to the Sarri years.
Everythng is similar (posession, pass accuracy, efforts on goal, defense) apart from goals scored.
We have scored barely more than half of the goals we did under Sarri.

So, it us clear the attack needs to be improved and Osimhen is about the best we can realistically get. If we also get Boga, things should look up for us.
on the 28th July, 2020 at 6:16pm
I hope the rumors about Boga are true. I think he would pair nicely with Osimhen and Insigne to create so dynamism in the final third.
on the 28th July, 2020 at 4:07pm
One can not make a serious push for the Scudetto with a 21yr old as your main hit man. Petagna (25yrs old) should be coming in, but Milik needs to stay. Napoli can not afford to hand him over to Juventus.

With supporting players like Lozano, Insigne, Politano, Younes, Fabian and Zielinski, Napoli can push for Champions League placings but really needs to keep Milik as well in order to challenge for the Scudetto.
on the 28th July, 2020 at 1:07pm
Assuming Milik and Callejon leave and if they can get a good fee from a Prem club for Allan then there should still be enough left over with the champions league money to get another couple of additions in. That's also not including KK who could be sold for big money. Politano makes a solid squad player but i'd like to see a top class RW and LB come in. I'm surprised they've not been linked with Chiesa who would fit the style of play and needs to be playing champs league
on the 28th July, 2020 at 12:16pm
He is a gamble and an expensive one at that but at least it's calculated given his age and potential. I can see him getting the best out of Insigne as well who likes to cut inside and either shoot or thread balls through for the striker to run onto. Mertens or Milik don't really have the pace to get on the end of those passes and his pace and strength should force defenders to sit a bit deeper creating more room for Insigne to drift into.
on the 28th July, 2020 at 12:13pm

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