Player Analysis: Victor Osimhen, a Super Eagles at Napoli

Napoli have struck gold after beating several European heavyweights to the signature of Victor Osimhen – a striker who is rapidly developing into a serial goal scorer, as this player analysis will show.

After being liked continuously with a move to Liverpool, Nigerian striker Osimhen decided to reject the Reds’ advances and opted for a move to Serie A outfit, Napoli. Before the Neapolitans came swooping in, Inter were also reportedly interested in him.

However, it is with the Partenopei that the youngster is going to shine, and we believe that his arrival could finally help the club boast that free-scoring striker they have been craving for a long time.

The departure of Gonzalo Higuain did impact the club’s ability to score freely, and the youngster’s arrival promises to change all that.

Lille ended up making roughly 60 million Euros for their star striker, who decided to sign for Napoli because Gennaro Gattuso was genuinely interested in having him in his squad.

The 21-year-old joined Lille from Belgian outfit Charleroi last summer and impressed in his debut campaign. With Lille, Osimhen scored 13 goals and provided 4 assists. This is an excellent result for a player who was faring in one of the top five European leagues for the first time in his career since a previous, ill-fated spell with VfL Wolfsburg – where he was just never given a chance to impress.

This player analysis will seek to find out the best traits of Victor Osimhen, his strengths, the areas that he could improve on, and how he can fit in at Napoli.

Victor Osimhen training with his new Napoli jersey

Player Overview

For his age, Osimhen is already a physical specimen, blessed with a good pace and a diverse set to finish. The youngster is also powerful in the air and prefers to play short passes. But, to measure his true potential, it is essential to look at how Osimhen performed for Lille last season.

During the 2019-20 campaign, Les Dogues preferred a 4-4-2 formation with Gabriel and Jose Fonte forming a very commanding center back pairing and Domagoj Bradaric and Zeki Celik placed on either flank.

In midfield, they fielded Renato Sanches, Jonathan Bamba, Benjamin Andre, and Jonathan Ikone. Upfront, the explosive partnership of Osimhen and Loic Remy wreaked havoc until Ligue 1 activity was wrapped up earlier than expected due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in France.

As this player analysis delves deeper into the subject, you will see how the fluidity of Osimhen allows him to be more than just a striker.

Victor Osimhen’s Heat Map

As this heat map suggests, Osimhen comes to life in the final third. The red area represents the most active areas on the pitch.

However, the yellow heat signatures shed light on another key attribute the Nigerian boasts. The young striker might be very active in the final third, but he also tends to go to the right side of the field, which allows him to link up with his teammates and add an extra element to the team’s offensive setup.

By tiptoeing closer to the touchline, Osimhen creates more space for himself while also causing serious disruption in the opposition defense. That makes it difficult for any team to man-mark the striker throughout the game.

But why is it that Osimhen likes staying closer to the opposition full-back?

This particular tendency can be attributed to the player’s intelligence since he seems to be someone who chooses his battles carefully. By competing with a full back, Osimhen will always have a better chance of winning a physical duel. Moreover, his great acceleration means that the 21-year-old manages to get on the ball faster than most.

His acceleration is one of the reasons why a majority of Lille’s attacks were made either through the center or via the right-wing.

How Would Osimhen Fit In at Napoli?

The 2019-20 campaign was a mostly forgetful one for Napoli. In the early stages, the team struggled to put any consistency in their displays. This resulted in manager Carlo Ancelotti getting the boot. Gennaro Gattuso replaced his former manager in Milan.

Gattuso would go for a 4-3-3 formation for his side. The backline boasted the talents of Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Nikola Maksimovic, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Elseid Hysaj. Diego Demme occupied the holding midfield role, with Zielinski and Fabian Ruiz just in front of him.

The team’s top scorer, Arkadiusz Milik (who may leave soon to Roma), was at the tip of the attack with the likes of Lorenzo Insigne (left) and José Callejon (right) on the sides. Dries Mertens also played as a center forward during the previous season.

But at the start of the campaign, Napoli played a relatively straightforward 4-4-2 formation where Milik and Mertens interchanged their roles as center forwards. The Belgian played as a false nine quite a bit.

After seeing Osimhen showcasing his true qualities in a 4-4-2 formation, Gattuso might be forced to rethink how he wants the team to be laid out.

A 4-4-2 formation with Osimhen in the starting lineup will see the Nigerian move out sweeping towards the right-wing, which would naturally lead to more possession. Furthermore, Osimhen’s ability to drift down the flanks and drift inside when there’s space would allow the team to orchestrate a lot of attacks from that side.

Last season, most of Napoli’s attacks came from the left side. Insigne was under a lot of pressure to play out of his skin, but now that Osimhen is here, Napoli should look more flexible in the final third.

Osimhen’s Attributes

Standing at 185 cm, Osimhen is a physical specimen and is equally very athletic. Throw in his technical ability and tactical intelligence, and you have a striker who is going to be a success.

For his height, Osimhen is very agile and has excellent balance while running with the ball as well. His physique makes it challenging to shrug him off the ball, especially when he’s shielding or dribbling. Rapid change of direction further makes it difficult for the defender to win the ball.

The youngster is an exceptionally accomplished player when it comes to aerial ability. A good core and body strength allows him to generate near-perfect velocity to make vertical leaps when needed.

Victor Osimhen can offer Napoli various attacking options

All these attributes, including his strong reading of different situations, positioning, and off-the-ball movement, make Osimhen a tough player to mark.

Osimhen’s aerial ability was on full display in Ligue 1 last season, where he averaged 10.82 aerial duels per game and boasted a 41.4% win rate. This percentage is a very good one because usually, defenders don’t allow even the most physically gifted football players to win headers off of them.

Playing him as a striker at Napoli would help since it would allow the Napoli backline and midfield to throw long balls his way and expect the Nigerian to hold his own in contrast to Mertens, who is understandably not a dominant aerial presence.

However, Osimhen still needs to improve in this particular aspect because Napoli players Fernando Llorente (85%) and Milik (46%) are two of the best headers in the Serie A.

Osimhen, however, compensates this with a good pressing ability, boasting 5.4 successful pressures per 90 minutes – more than Milik (4.2).

A Speed Merchant?

When talking about Osimhen, any debate would be incomplete and pointless without mentioning his pace.

Due to his raw power and explosiveness, Osimhen can showcase regular bursts of accelerations and use them to devastating effect in short-range battles/runs.

However, it is during counter-attacking moves where Osimhen’s pace stands out since he always seems to have a better chance of winning races against defenders when a ball is sent into space. Fabian Ruiz, in particular, would be drooling at the prospect of linking up with Osimhen.

Imagine the Spaniard picking out the perfect space for an attacking move to develop and Osimhen’s raw pace giving him the chance to leave a full-back licking the dust off of his boots.

Osimhen’s first goal at Napoli came just after 59 seconds…

Ball Control – A Learning Trait?

The young Nigerian seems to be very comfortable when receiving the ball, and his touches are rarely heavy. Even when his first touch is a poor one, the youngster can use his pace to make up for it.

For strikers who prefer to play down the flanks, they need to have the ability to get out of tight spaces. Here is where dribbling skills come into play. Unlike Mertens or Insigne, Osimhen’s dribbling skills are just okay – but still enough for him to hold his own when he’s isolated.

In all honesty, however, the youngster’s dribbling skills are pretty one-dimensional as you would mostly see him knock the ball to one side or try running through the defender. Perhaps this is why Osimhen rarely gets to be in one on one situations and prefers to play as a target man.

When he receives the ball, Osimhen mostly tries to lay it off to a teammate as soon as possible. This particular attribute also showcases that the player isn’t that great when it comes to holding up play. But at the same time, his predisposition to release the ball quickly allows the following scenarios to unfold:

  1. Quickly change the direction of the play
  2. Use his off-the-ball movement to get in a better area to receive the ball

Osimhen is not keen to go for dribbles and averaged only 0.56 per 90 minutes last season.

Moreover, he isn’t the best passer of the ball either. To shine at Napoli, the youngster would need to improve his distribution. Boasting only 0.22 passes per 90 minutes inside the penalty box, Osimhen has some work to do.

Lethal Finisher

Despite not being the best dribbler or the passer of the ball, Osimhen pays his dues by being a monster when it comes to finishing.

While you cannot classify him as ambidextrous, Osimhen is comfortable finishing with either foot. Due to power and an excellent shooting technique, the Super Eagles’ star can go for full and accurate shooting regularly.

Victor is a clinical striker and a cold-hearted finisher.

Victor Osimhen scored a hattrick in his first game for Napoli

Off-The-Ball Movement

The most crucial attribute that will make Osimhen a success in Italy would be his off-the-ball movement and intelligent positioning. While his lethal finishing cannot be discounted, the Nigerian’s ability to read scenarios as they unfold allows him to be at the right place at the right moment.

When the team is defending, the 21-year-old will stay high up the pitch, waiting for his team to win back possession so that he is in a perfect position to make himself available. By placing himself in the half-space, Osimhen helps out his teammates to pick him up.

Throughout his career, the youngster has made a habit of running in behind defenders, operating in half-spaces, and using his pace to add more value to the team’s attacking output.


At the age of 21, Victor Osimhen is perhaps one of the most exciting young strikers in the game today. While he may not be the most excellent dribbler of the ball and isn’t great at distribution, Osimhen’s finishing, positioning, aerial ability, and pace make him one of the deadliest young strikers around.

After scoring 14 goals in his debut season for a young side in France, Osimhen is likely to develop further at a Napoli side that is in transition but is seemingly making the right moves this summer.