Accolades continue to flow in the direction of the in-form Nigerian international after proving unstoppable for defenders in the Italian top flight
Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti has explained that Victor Osmihen was excellent against Cagliari and he substituted the Nigerian midway through the second for another reason other than his performance.
Spalletti says he replaced Victor Osimhen in the 77th-minute of their league clash on Sunday night not for being at the risk of getting sent off but because he was tired.
The Super Eagles striker scored the first and won the penalty that led to the second goal as Napoli dispatched Cagliari 2-0 at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Osimhen was shown a yellow card in the 66th minute by referee Marco Piccinini for simulation in the box, ten minutes after winning Napoli’s penalty. And coach Spalletti hauled the 22-year-old off for Andrea Petagna shortly after.
Osimhen was dismissed in Napoli’s season opener against newly-promoted Venezia and he would have been walking a tight rope if Spalletti had kept him on against Cagliari.
But the former AS Roma tactician maintains that was not the reason he substituted the former Lille ace but because he asked to be replaced.
Spalletti also believes that Osimhen should not have been booked because he didn’t dive.
“No, he had asked for it,” Spalletti responded to a question at his post-match press conference seeking to know if Osimhen was substituted because of the risk of getting a second yellow card.
“We had to change him because he was tired. The yellow card could also not be there, he did not simulate there because the obstruction foul is there. He did not behave badly there, he did not want to make fun of anyone.”
Before he took his place on the sub bench, Osimhen had engineered Napoli’s sixth league victory of the campaign with his sixth goal in four matches. And Spalletti was pleased to see the Super Eagles star terrorise the opposing defenders for as long as he was on the pitch.
“From an athletic point of view, Osimhen is something incredible,” the ex-Zenit St Petersburg coach added.
“He manages to cover a distance of twenty meters in three or four heartbeats and he makes them alone long before the midfielders come out. In addition to a bomber he is a great team man.”
However, the Napoli gaffer cautions that Osimhen is not yet a top player but he is convinced that the Nigerian forward will continue to improve.
“He has room for improvement,” Spalletti said.
“There are some things that we need to learn in our football. He can do many things well, he must also take into consideration other things that can give him even more strength.”
Former West Ham icon Paolo Di Canio was among those impressed with how Osimhen has taken the Italian Serie A by storm.
The ex-Juventus attacker admits he never expected Osimhen to be so irresistible, while confessing that the youngster has become Napoli’s main man.
“If I expected Osimhen like this? No, honestly no,” Di Canio said, as per TuttoNapoli.
“He is a velociraptor. He is wiry but muscular, and he holds the ball to get the team up. He is an absolutely decisive player for Napoli and he is one who is making a difference.”
Osimhen’s strike against Cagliari was his sixth goal in four games, with no player scoring more in all competitions in Europe’s top five leagues in September.