By Amaechi Agbo
Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen has been rated as the best striker in the world. Even better that Manchester City forward, Erling Haaland, according to English newspaper, Daily Mail.
Osimhen who scored his 17th Serie A goal of the season in Napoli’s 3-0 humiliation of Cremonsese on Sunday is seeking to become the first African player to win the Serie Golden Boot award.
Erling Haaland will be seeking to hunt down Arsenal on Wednesday when both teams clash in a heavyweight top-of-the-table EPL clash as Arsenal currently lead City with three points on the log.
However, the rives is the case for Osimhen whose 7 goals in six consecutive matches have helped Napoli to establish a sixteen-point lead ahead of their closet rival Inter Milan.
Although not every Premier League follower is familiar with Victor Osimhen but they soon will be. The Nigerian is driving Napoli towards only the third Serie A title in their history, and their first since the days of Diego Maradona. They are 13 points clear at the top ahead of Sunday’s meeting with struggling Cremonese.
Maradona’s status in Naples has to be seen to be believed. Walk through the city centre and you will find shrines to him. In the Spanish Quarter, the murals depicting the great Argentine take the breath away.
No footballer will be idolised in Naples quite as Maradona was but if Napoli win the league this season, Osimhen will come pretty close.
Daily Mail noted that Osimhen may not be quite as prolific as Haaland – who is? – but Osimhen is a more complete No 9. Sporting a protective mask after breaking his cheekbone and eye socket in November 2021, the 24-year-old even looks like a superhero.
He has 16 goals in 17 Serie A appearances this term but there is so much more to his game. His speed terrifies defenders, as does his strength.
Unlike Haaland, he links play superbly and has developed a deadly understanding with fellow attacker Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, another of Europe’s top players this season.
Roaring his team on from sidelines after he had been substituted during a recent win over Roma, Osimhen showed himself to be natural leader.
His goal in that game – controlling the ball on his chest and knee before despatching a sweet volley – was one of the best in Europe’s top five leagues this season.
Osimhen’s qualities make him the ideal Premier League No 9 but he would not come cheap.
Aurelio De Laurentiis insisted this week that Osimhen was not for sale and the Napoli owner, with his impressive sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli at his side, is known as one of the game’s most ferocious negotiators.
Agents and sporting directors who tried – and failed – to sign stars like Kalidou Koulibaly and Dries Mertens in their prime break out in a cold sweat when recalling talks with Napoli.
It will be no different when they come for Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia this summer.
Nigerian has plenty of admirers across Europe but Napoli have made it clear he is not for sale
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis insisted he does not have to sell his star players
Given Chelsea’s brashness in the market, De Laurentiis and Giuntoli will probably be thinking they can get half a billion for the pair of them. They will certainly be looking to double the £75million paid to Lille for Osimhen in July 2020.
‘I can tell you that Osimhen is not for sale,’ De Laurentiis told German publication Bild. ‘Our players are in demand, but I don’t have to sell anyone. We don’t have any debts.’
Expect Osimhen, whose contract expires in two years, to come under serious pressure from supporters to sign a new deal.
Yet nearly every elite player today craves the challenge of the Premier League. With United and Chelsea badly lacking a No9, it promises to be a busy summer.
One thing is certain: an Osimhen vs Haaland duel would be something to savour.