By Gogo Orininaemi, Solomon Chukwu and China Acheru
On July 31, 2020, Victor Osimhem wrote what could have been his shortest ever tweet, just three words, “Napoli like Lagos” and it could have meant a lot of things.
He had just been involved in a long drawn out transfer saga that at most times seemed like it would hit the rocks and possibly, a deal had just been sealed. It could also mean that he had just arrived in Naples. Then again, he could have well been watching a mafia movie at home and a scene in Naples played.
Napoli had gotten their man, finally and a few days later, Victor Osimhem twitted, “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 pitch for the common good of the club🙏🏽#ForzaNapoliSempre Blue circleWhite circle
Victor Osimhen was ready for the challenge, but will be be able to put his money where his mouth is?
A Lagos boy in Naples
Napoli is known for the exploits of Diego Maradona and the Brazilian Careca in the 80s and recently, Gonzalo Higuian, so Victor Osimhen will have lots of questions to answer as soon his career with the club starts on the pitch.
But if Napoli is anything like Lagos, the city Osimhen grew up in, then he may find it easy navigating through the rough roads.
Like popular Nigerian Hip Hop artiste, Rugged man, spat in one of his songs, “Lagos is a city with no pity for the silly,” so it is obvious that only the wise, diligent and daring survive in Lagos and Osimhen has done this and more.
So, can he survive in Naples and with Napoli?
It will no doubt be a different league, environment, style of play and mentality than he has seen in Nigeria, Germany and France, so what’s up for Osimhen?
As a young man in his early twenties, Osimhen has played across three European countries scoring 38 goals in total; the most recent of them all was in France where he scored 18 times for Lille.
His transfer fee was massive and though he lacks experience in top flight leagues, but he makes up for these with his zeal, dedication, pace, daring nature and desire for more each time he plays.
With his height he can be their target man if they want to play long. He is also pacey and has fantastic off the ball movement.
He uses his pace intelligently to run into channels and behind defenders.
Against the big teams, Napoli love to sit back and play off the counter so his acceleration and ability to run with the ball at his feet means he can serve as an outlet when the side is under pressure.
Victor Oshimen loves to press and according to last season’s statistics, he averages 1.3 recoveries per game in the final third which is more than any attacker in Napoli. His passes in the final third per 90 minutes is 8.10 higher than any current Napoli attacker.
Talking transition from defense to attack, he has a 78.9% progressive pass success rate which is also more than the current attackers in Napoli and he would massively improve their transition play.
Between Insigne, Callejon and Mertens
Victor Osimhen is new to European football and his biggest club so far has to be Napoli who come with a larger reputation.
They have won two Italian League titles, six Coppa Italia and one UEFA Cup while their biggest player has no doubt been Diego Maradona, whose Number 10 jersey the club retired in 2000. Other players with honorable mentions have to be the Brazilian, Careca and Argentine, Gonzalo Higuian.
Osimhen has been handed the number 9 jersey, the same worn by Careca and Higuian meaning the club believe he is good enough to fill the boots of those former greats.
Since the departure of Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus in 2016, Napoli have found it difficult to get a good replacement. As a result of this,the club adjusted their philosophy to that of playing with a false 9.
Their forward line up has been majorly occupied by wingers, Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Maria Callejon and Dries Mertens.
Arkadiusz Milik with nine goals this season is one player Osimhen would have worried about until club president, Aurelio De Laurentis announced that the Polish marksman will be put up for sale.
Over the years, this trio (Callejon, Insigne and Mertens) have formed an amazing partnership that can only be matched by few so Victor Osimhen has his work cut out for him.
Mertens got just six goals this season, Milik who is up for sale got nine while Hirving Lazano, signed for forty two million euros is already regarded as the flop of the season.
If Osimhem makes the early good impressions, he may just walk straight into the starting eleven.
Dries Mertens already seems happy with the idea of Victor Oshimen joining Napoli and has promised to help him settle in Naples.
Looking away from Maradona, Higuian
Victor Osimhen just wants to play football and he just wants to score.
After an international game with the Super Eagles in 2019, Victor Osimhen told NigerianFootballer.com that he always wants to score goals.
“My mentality is to prepare for games and I always want to score. If I do not score it doesn’t matter because I am a team player and I am happier when we win than when I score but I always want to score,” Osimhen said.
“It is team play and our personal ambitions must come after that of the team,” Osimhen told NigerianFootballer.com.
He will need to be at his goalscoring best at the Italian giants who have seen the best of Diego Maradona, Careca, Edinson Cavani and Gonzalo Higuian.
When you are the most expensive player in Africa going to Napoli, there will be pressure from the team, the fans and the media.
Careca scored 73 goals in 164 games for Napoli; Edinson Cavani scored 104 goals in 138 games while Gonzalo Higuian scored 91 goals in 146 Napoli appearances. Pressure? Certainly! But Osimhen seems able to play the part.
Despite all the recent efforts of Napoli to get back to winning ways, they always finished behind Juventus in the League.
De Laurentis once talked up an end of season restructuring of the team that started with letting go of Carlo Ancelotti for Gatttuso.
The club who previously played a fluid, attacking brand of football now built from the back, slowly.
It has always been difficult as a big name player with a team in transition so Osimhem cannot be labelled the right or wrong choice at this time.
But will he deliver the goals? Will his name be sang in the stands like Diego Maradona, Careca, Cavani and Higuian?
NAPOLI finished the season in disappointing 7th place with 62points in the Serie A table but won the Coppa Italia 2020 after defeating Juventus Serie A league winners 4-2 on penalties.
They have not won the Serie A for 30 years their biggest league placing in recent times being 2nd under Mauricio Sarri in 2015/16 season.
For Osimhen to succeed in Naples, his fitness, support system and also the level of trust placed on him must come to play. For Napoli, it depends on the amount of changes that will be made to this side, likewise the level of understanding that will be present come next season.
But if Osimhen believes Napoli is like Lagos and lives it, then half the work is done.
Welcome to Napoli, the goalmouth assassin. It may indeed be like Lagos.