AT 24 years old, Victor Osimhen performs like never before. The Nigerian is having a breathtaking season with Napoli, both in Serie A and on the European stage. And yet, his debut on the European continent was anything but idyllic. A look back at his adventure in Wolfsburg, which almost no one remembers.
Viña del Mar (Chile) is the seaside resort par excellence. Between its beautiful beaches, lush gardens and music festivals, there is plenty to have a good time in this city located 120 km northwest of Santiago de Chile. But if the young Victor Osimhen is passing through at the end of 2015, it’s not to relax. With his friends from the 1998 generation, the young Golden Eaglet played there in the U17 World Cup. A competition with little media coverage, but which can be a real springboard for the future. And the success is dazzling to say the least since young Nigerians take the final crown, after a 100% African final against Mali (0-2). On an individual level, the attacking member of the Ultimate Strikers Academy will do honor to his institution: with ten goals in seven games, he finished top scorer in the competition, far ahead of the German Johannes Eggestein and his four goals. Notable fact: he managed the capital performance of scoring at least one goal per game. The future looks bright.
Victor Osimhen has the 3rd best ratio of minutes played to score a goal in Serie A since the 1994/95 season! 😲
🐐 Cristiano Ronaldo – one goal every 104 minutes
👑 Ronaldo Nazario – one goal every 117 minutes
🦅 VICTOR OSIMHEN – one goal every 124 minutes pic.twitter.com/1WrgE2yTmT
— Instant Foot ⚽️ (@lnstantFoot) February 17, 2023
Prevention is better than cure
Being a hit at a U17 World Cup is not always the harbinger of a great career. Far from there. If the examples are legion (Léo Macao, Evandro Roncato, Freddy Adu…), the one who is undoubtedly the most telling for the Osimhen case is probably that of his compatriot and eldest Emmanuel Sani. Finalist of his U17 World Cup in 2009 with five goals in five games and the title of best player, he then signed for Lazio in Rome but did not have the chance to play with the pros. His career, ruined because of problems of repeated tendonitis in the Achilles tendon, will end after two unsuccessful passages in Israel and Sweden. He was then barely 23 years old.
Fortunately, more idyllic destinies after a promising U17 World Cup exist. Another Super Eagle, Kelechi Iheanacho, is a good example. Elected best player of the 2013 edition which he won, the 26-year-old has 42 selections for the national team and is now playing in the Premier League for Leicester. We could also have mentioned Cesc Fàbregas (2003 edition), Toni Kroos (2007) or more recently Phil Foden (2017).
Off to Germany
However, the performance of Victor Oshimen at the Chilean World Cup have not gone unnoticed. wolvesburgent is tempted by the 19-year-old kid. Injured during his first months, he still discovered the Bundesliga at the end of the 2016/17 season (three appearances). Barred by competition the following season (Lower Dost, Mario Gomez And Divock Origi), he only takes part in 12 meetings and remains silent. Needless to say that with this inevitably disappointing balance sheet, the passage of the Nigerian in the German club will not go down in history.
But no hard feelings:It didn’t work, but I will never call this experience a failure. It was a learning phase. I thank them for wanting to give it a try with me.” wisely confided the Nigerian to France Soccer, last March.
Now we have to consider what’s next. Even if the super eagle took his first steps in pro, the doors remain closed: “Je I came up against so many refusals… It was hard for those close to me. I saw them holding back their tears. I had just gone from top scorer in the U17 World Cup, which all the agents are fighting over, to the guy whose phone no longer rings. I told them not to worry, it was football. But I admit that it became demoralizing.”
🇳🇬 Victor Osimhen: “I dream of being the African Ballon d’OR…” pic.twitter.com/ZYLCGqcMzS
— 🏆 Africa Foot News (@ActuFootAfrique) April 14, 2023
The Belgian rebound then the consecration
The Nigerian nugget will ultimately not think for months. Sporting Charleroi, which plays in the Belgian championship, draws its phone and recruits the striker on a one-year loan. Revengeful, the Super Eagle knocks out everything in its path: 20 goals in 36 games. Direction Lille, in the French championship, where he is recruited for 3.5 million euros. The landing is not too big for Osimhen, which retains its effectiveness in the North (13 goals in Ligue 1) despite a season truncated by the Covid. He also discovered European games (2 goals in the Champions League).
His coast is growing more and more. Naples sets his sights on him and poaches him for 71.3 million euros a year later. If the first two seasons are prolific (10 then 18 goals TCC), the third, the current one, is of an even higher standing. The Super Eagle have already planted 21 goals in Serie A and 4 goals in the Champions League. Naples prances at the top of the standings with a comfortable mattress in advance eight days from the end (+14 points on Lazio) and should, barring cataclysm, win their first Serie A title since the 1989/1990 season. The era of a completely different football, that of a certain Diego Maradona…
The end of this magical season for Osimhen and all the Neapolitan people is looming at high speed. What about the future of the current Serie A top scorer? If he proclaims his love for the sky blue jersey, there are many desires. Paris-Saint-Germain would be shelved, as would Bayern Munich, où the gunner of Nigeria (24 selections, 15 goals) is more and more approached lately. Naples, which is not ready to let go of its nugget so easily, has set its price at… 140 million euros.
But while waiting to know more about his future, the Napoli striker will try to make the powder talk this Tuesday on the occasion of the Champions League quarter-final second leg, where Luciano Spalletti’s men will try to reverse the score of the first leg (1-0) in a 100% transalpine shock against Milan. How do you say “chills” in Italian?