The Super Eagles forward had made a mincemeat of the Liverpool defense in Napoli’s 4-1 win at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in the Champions League.
For forty minutes on that night in Naples, Victor Osimhen proved why he was one of Europe’s most-wanted strikers during the summer transfer window. But for an exorbitant transfer fee, and a hard-balling Aurelio de Laurentiis, Osimhen may have moved up north during the off season. He stayed back at Napoli, and rose to become one of the team’s leaders. In a season the Neapolitans have lost some of their most experienced and trusted talismans, many expected Osimhen to rise and take his place.
The Nigerian knows the weight on his shoulders and he has looked ready for the challenge when called upon, but Napoli haven’t placed their fate and fortune in Osimhen’s boots. To support his prowess, they made significant, yet unpopular attacking signings notably in Giacomo Raspadori, Khvicha Kvaratshkelia and Giovanni Simone. It’s a decision that is proving to be a masterstroke.
Losing and replacing Lorenzo Insigne’s experience and Dries Mertens’ trustworthiness in the same window must have looked herculean for Napoli but their great scouting has bore fruits they wouldn’t have ever seen coming.
Osimhen’s loss to injury was worrying but in his absence, Napoli have shared the goals with Kvaratshkelia and Raspadori particularly impressing. In the six games played in his absence, Napoli have scored 19 goals and are looking like a very formidable attacking network. The former Lille forward is Napoli’s crown jewel and he is highly rated by their fans. His injury records however makes building title runs around him a difficult proposition, yet his quality is undeniable when he’s fit and ready.
Napoli may have prepared to move on without Osimhen, and see just how much they can do in his absence and if the recent weeks are anything near an experiment, there must have been solid hypotheses to make from it and they won’t be entirely favourable to the Nigerian.
They have proven they can crack real shots in Osimhen’s absence and Luciano Spalletti must be thinking on one hand about the options he has outside the brilliance of his most valuable marksman.
In Osimhen’s favour, this may suggest a reduction in his price tag by the club, with De Laurentiis recorded to have revealed his new opposition to signing African players. Should a good offer come in for Osimhen soon, Napoli may take a look at their options and dance to the tunes of big bags.
The coming months will decide a lot in what becomes of Osimhen’s status at Napoli but the last few weeks have brought some realities closer.