Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen on Friday sealed an African record €81m move from French Ligue 1 side Lille to Italian giants Napoli on a five-year deal, thus becoming the most expensive African player and one of the hottest young prospects in global football.
The 21-year-old became one of the most sought-after footballers after an outstanding first season in the French topflight — which was abruptly ended after the outbreak of coronavirus — where he scored 18 goals with six assists in 38 games across all competitions.
He was voted the club’s Player of The Year and also scooped the Marc-Vivien Foe prize for the best African player in Ligue 1, which caught the eye of Europe’s biggest sides like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester United, before Napoli snatched him on Friday, after protracted talks, following the player’s change of agents.
“Lille will receive circa €80m, while the player over the years will get between €4m and €4.5m per season,” Aurelio De Laurentiis, Napoli president, said on Radio Kiss Kiss.
And Lille are definitely smiling to the bank, after snatching the youngster for a paltry €12m from modest Charleroi, after an amazing 2018/19 season with the Belgians, with whom he scored 20 goals in 36 games.
Before his Napoli move, Osimhen has been a potent goals scorer with his aerial ability, pace, strength and presence inside the box a major problem for defenders. His eye for goal, as well as his off the ball positioning was first noticed at the U-17 World Cup in Chile, where he scored 10 goals – the highest ever by a single player at the cadet championship – to fire the Golden Eaglets to a record fifth title.
But a move to Bundesliga side Wolfsburg almost set the striker back after two seasons blighted by injuries and ill-health.
However, a successful loan spell at Charleroi in the 2018/19 season, ensured the Belgian side activated their option to sign the forward.
With his latest move to the Serie A, the eyes of the ever-expectant and demanding football fans are firmly focused on Osimhen, who was born and raised in Olusosun area of Lagos.
Delivering the goods against the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan and other Serie A sides famed for their quality defending and technicality, will definitely not be an easy task for the striker, but Osimhen says he can’t wait to kick-start the new challenge.
“The next chapter @officialsscnapoli is a very exciting one and I can’t wait to get on the pitch with the team. I want to thank the fans through the last few weeks and I will definitely give my all on the pitch for the common good of the club,” the striker posted on Twitter on Friday.
Meanwhile, top Nigerian sports personalities have backed Osimhen to succeed in the Italian Serie A.
President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, backed his compatriot to surpass the record of the legendary Argentine Diego Maradona, Napoli’s greatest player.
“I think Victor Osimhen represents an excellent reinforcement for Napoli,” Pinnick told Naples-based Radio Kiss Kiss.
“I have been following the events of the Italian club since the time of Diego Armando Maradona.
“Napoli is a proud city and it is also in football. And Osimhen is a pride of African football. He is a boy disciplined but at the same time focused on the objectives and if he wants something he knows how to get it.
“He has made the right choice for his career.
I already believe he will receive the right support from the environment and from the fans.
“Naples is the right place to reach together important results. And Osimhen will always give his best.
“I say it now, Victor will do everything possible to reach and exceed the records written by a legend like Maradona.”
Sports minister Sunday Dare said, “I celebrate today Victor Osimhen, Nigerian professional footballer for the height he has attained. His recent exploits and signing signposts the boundless natural talents and brilliance of our youth, if given the opportunity to showcase. Victor, a true Nigerian brand.”
No doubt, the entire football world would be anxiously waiting to watch how the Osimhen brand takes on defences in Italy and even beyond.