The blockbuster deals of 2020: Victor Osimhen to Napoli (£65m)
With Arkadiusz Milik on the outs with the club, they needed a capable striker to replace the Pole, and so they turned to the 21-year-old Nigerian.
Osimhen had blazed a trail in Ligue 1 last season, scoring 13 times in 27 games.
So how good has he been in Serie A so far this season?
How the deal went down
Napoli’s previous transfer record was held by Hirving Lozano, who joined the club from PSV Eindhoven in the summer of 2019 for €42m.
Fast forward a year later, and the southern Italian side obliterated that benchmark to bring Osimhem to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Arsenal had also registered a serious interest in bringing the striker to England, but the Serie A club won the race after upping their offer to meet Lille’s high demand.
What they said: Gattuso on Osimhen
“I was struck by Osimhen’s serious attitude,” said Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso following a 2-0 win against Parma in late September. “He hasn’t forgotten where he came from and the sacrifices he made.
“He built himself up on his own and I congratulate him for his will and desire. He is a young lad with the head of a 40-year-old, I hope he doesn’t make mistakes and doesn’t change his attitude.
“He’s better than what he’s shown on the pitch up until now.”
Osimhen to Napoli – hit or miss?
Grade so far: C
Osimhen hasn’t been a disappointment on the pitch for Napoli since joining the club – the problem is that he’s hardly been on one since November.
The striker has only made a total of eight appearances in all competitions this season, with factors off the field contributing to his relatively low number of outings.
His last game for Napoli came on 8th November, in the 1-0 win against Bologna.
The striker then injured his shoulder whilst on international duty with Nigeria. He then angered his club by staying in his homeland to receive treatment, rather than return to Italy.
Napoli blamed the Nigeria national team for not treating Osimhen sufficiently, and his shoulder injury worsened. As a result, he missed the following seven Serie A games – and the remainder of Napoli’s Europa League fixtures.
Osimhen then added aggravated the situation further by attending a surprise birthday party in Nigeria over the Christmas period and contracted Covid-19 as a result, with the striker only being recently cleared of the virus.
He was forced to apologise to the club and Napoli fans. With only six games played in Serie A, and two goals scored, there’s the feeling that he hasn’t come close to repaying the faith showed in him by the club at the halfway point of the season.
However, when he did play, Osimhen terrorised defences with his physicality and incredible pace. There aren’t many players with his characteristics in Serie A, and opposing defenders aren’t capable of stopping him.
Napoli, by contrast, don’t look as threatening in attack without the Nigerian.
Should the striker remain fit until the end of the season, Napoli could mount a late title tilt.