Victor Osimhen – From goal-shy striker at Wolfsburg to Napoli’s main man

At the age of just 22, Oshimen’s most prestigious personal accolade has just been secured. Winning Serie A Player Of The Month deservedly so – four goals in three games against Udinese, Sampdoria and Cagliari – he has helped Napoli start the season with seven wins from seven games.

However, this confidence hasn’t always been there for the young Nigerian striker. Discarded from Wolfsburg after a failed stint in Germany, this has been the work of a determined striker eager to prove those wrong.

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After alerting numerous clubs due to a goal-heavy contribution for the Nigerian U17’s, Oshimen lighting up the U17 World Cup, Wolfsburg took a gamble on the unknown Nigerian youngster and offered him a contract in 2017. It might have been a case of too much too soon for Osimhen, who failed in hitting the ground running at Wolfsburg.

Coinciding with a poor season at the Volkswagen Arena, Osimhen’s new team staying up in the Bundesliga owing to a relegation playoff win, it was difficult for the striker to get going. With zero goals from 14 matches in the Bundesliga for Osimhen, and the Wolfsburg hierarchy searching for solutions to their near relegation, the young striker was loaned out to Belgium to learn his trade more effectively.

A loan out to Charleroi would reignite a striker low on confidence after zero goals in Germany, contributing to the striker regaining his happiness again. Osimhen shone for the Belgian side, scoring crucial goals on and off the bench for his short-term employers. Osimhen became the main threat for Charleroi, scoring 2o goals in 36 games under the tenure of popular Charleroi manager Felice Mazzu. The Belgian club enquired about the potential of gaining Osimhen on a permanent deal, but with his goalscoring form returning, various clubs far and wide began to bid for the Nigerian prospect.

Even with his form picking up in Belgium, Wolfsburg decided to cash in on the Nigerian – a failed project, not cut out for the demands of the Bundesliga. Wolfsburg will now be regretting their decision, with the now Napoli striker one of the most in-form attackers in European football. Still, the timeline gave Osimhen another stab at a European league – going from Germany to Belgium and now France.

At Lille, Osimhen was seemingly replicating the trajectory of his hero. Idolising Didier Drogba, the Ivory Coast international’s career sky-rocketed after a successful spell in France with Marseille. From then on, Drogba was considered a titan with Chelsea. In Osimhen, with the confidence boosting spell in Belgium still fresh, the striker removed the shackles of Wolfsburg and showcased his immense talent in Ligue 1.

Scoring his first ever Champions League goal against Chelsea coincidentally, Osimhen would finish as top scorer in Ligue 1 – a division dominated by the likes of Neymar, turned on its head by the young striker. Even with his newly found stardom, Osimhen returned back to Charleroi during the international break to thank the Belgian club for their pivotal role in this career catapulting.

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Now, in present day, Osimhen is Africa’s most expensive footballer ever. Demanding €70 million as an initial fee, Lille wanted serious cash to lose their star-man. Napoli paying this astronomical fee is being justified however, the Nigerian a key component to Napoli’s unbeaten start. Watching over Osimhen in Napoli sky blue, he looks a man with confidence oozing out of him. With the pressure of a high price tag, Osimhen has taken to Serie A like a duck to water even with that at the back of his head.

Surrounded by fellow attacking talent in Mertens and Insigne, Osimhen won’t be doing all the attacking work himself. Osimhen’s goals for Napoli vary, with a few goals coming from a poacher-like instinct in the box. Provided service by the aforementioned Mertens and Insigne, the goals for Osimhen were always likely to flood in.

Yet, the Nigerian’s ability as an individual should not be understated. His confidence allows him to simply glide past defenders at this moment, shrugging them off with his physicality before skilfully transitioning into a one-on-one scenario. Scoring from outside the box too, everything the Napoli striker currently does turns to gold.

His two goals against Leicester City typify the all-round game he possesses, powering a header past Kasper Schmeichel with pin-point accuracy before doing it all himself with a looped finish over the head of the Dane. Netting two at The King Power, he seems to now be on the radar of the Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel. In the Romelu Lukaku mould, starring in Serie A, it’ll be intriguing to see if the Nigerian moves on once more. But, with Napoli top of the Serie A, he remains the hottest property in Europe.

From quiet beginnings to a striker scoring for fun, his ascent has been a joy to watch. 15 caps for Nigeria at senior level too, the African nation has a new Super Eagle to add to its ranks.

The Author

Kelan Sarson

Peterborough United supporter, football writer + current MA Journalism student at the Uni of Sheffield. Twitter account for football writing - @sarsonkelan

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