The best is yet to come from the Nigeria international, but looming darkness of attitude is threatening to cast a shadow on his flourishing career
Ignore CAF’s controversial 30-man shortlist that excluded the Napoli striker from among Africa’s best players: Victor Osimhen is one of the continent’s finest strikers at the moment.
The young man’s name often features prominently in the list of footballers linked with some of the wealthiest clubs in the world.
Osimhen is also the most expensive African star on the planet, with the deal that took him from Lille to Napoli costing the Neapolitans a record €81 million (including performance-related variables).
Two years after that deal was signed and sealed, though, it continues to raise some questions at home and abroad – first on his status as a truly global footballer and secondly, having enough character to own the tag.
The ugly mess abroad
Osimhen’s move to Napoli has been under police scrutiny since details of the transaction made it to the public eye.
Police are investigating allegations of connivance between Napoli and Lille to inflate the transfer fee for Osimhen. The Italian giants and the former French champions have had their various head offices raided.
The Italian Football Association even dragged Napoli to court regarding the issue earlier this year.
Still, the Neapolitans and Lille maintain that they have not committed any wrongdoing.
In all of this, Osimhen has not been accused of any offense.
The turbulent storm on the home front
Back in Nigeria, though, another fallout from that Napoli dealings is threatening to pull the Osimhen family apart and drag Victor into a court dispute.
Osita Okolo, Osimhen’s brother-in-law, is raising dust that the former Lille lad cheated him out of his dues from Osimhen’s switch to Italy.
Urged by his elder sister Esther, Osimhen appointed Esther’s husband, Osita, as his manager. The Napoli deal was in the pipeline at the time, and Osimhen had sensationally replaced his long-time agent Jean-Gérard Benoit Czajka with Italian broker William D’Avilla of DW Sports.
Osita claims an agreement was in place to receive as his own dues a certain percentage of D’Avilla’s commission.
He admits to receiving an initial installment payment of 450,000 dollars and another 91,000 euros.
The relationship between Osimhen and his brother-in-law, however, broke down shortly after.
And Osimhen allegedly tricked Osita into releasing the money ($450k and €90k) in his possession and, after that, vowed not to pay him a dime.
Osita and his wife Esther (Osimhen’s sister) have been distraught by the development.
When elders in the Osimhen family reportedly failed in their efforts to resolve the family dispute, the estranged couple sued Osimhen in court.
Busy at work terrorising defenders in Italy, Osimhen reportedly did not honour any of the Ikeja High Court summonses.
The public spat
With the case making no meaningful headway in court, Osita and his wife took the high road.
The couple reached out to popular media personality Daddy Freeze and laid their grievances bare to the public.
Osita accused Osimhen of refusing to take care of his (Osimhen’s) family when apparently money is no longer his problem.
In the chat that has since gone viral, Osita lamented: “The money was paid into my company account, but my greatest mistake was to give it to him (Osimhen) when he asked for it with the promise he would pay back.
“I worked with him with my open mind, not knowing he had a sinister plan against me.
“That’s the greatest mistake I made in my life.”
Esther Okolo, with tears, added: “I don’t want a problem; all I want is that Victor should give my husband his money because I know my husband worked for money.
“Evidence dey (translated: there is evidence), but my family doesn’t want to see the truth.
“He is fighting for his right; he should give my husband what belongs to him.”
The Okolo couple hoped that their interview with Daddy Freeze would provoke a response from Osimhen.
But the 23-year-old is yet to give his side of the story.
Osimhen’s issues with agents
Meanwhile, Osimhen’s disagreement with Osita Okolo is not the first time the former Wolfsburg signing would disengage an agent under financial clouds.
His first agent Jean-Gérard Benoit Czajka also took Osimhen to court after the youngster replaced the broker with William D’Avilla shortly before the move to Napoli was completed.
Benoit Czajka had been with Osimhen long before the youngster helped Nigeria win the 2015 FIFA u-17 World Cup.
But the Spaniard was sacked ‘without cause’, and he duly took the matter to court. Benoit Czajka was later compensated out of court.
Osimhen has since dismissed Benoit Czajka’s replacements, William D’Avilla and Osita Okolo.
Roberto Calenda is now the Nigerian striker’s representative, his fourth agent in less than three years.
Osimhen sure likes flipping agents.
Dark clouds over a blossoming career
Osimhen is destined for a great career. The 23-year-old will one day play for one of the biggest clubs in the English Premier League.
It is, however, important that the young man, as he heads to the top, remembers to take care of family members and the people who handle his business.
Providence has been kind to him, and many of his relatives will look to him to help drag them out of poverty. He cannot help everyone, yes, but family is sacred.
And so is an agent’s commission.
Avoiding that pitfall will let Osimhen concentrate on the one thing that can take him farther than any Nigerian before him – scoring loads of goals for Europe’s best clubs.