Victor Osimhen’s Journey From Lagos To The Napoli Big Stage

Napoli have officially announced the signing of Victor Osimhen from Lille. The fee is believed to be in the region of €60M and the Nigerian joins in a five-year deal. Make no mistake about it, that price is a bargain for his qualities and the Partenopei might have their hands on a potential world-beater.

Osimhen’s story typifies the importance of hard work, belief and good decisions.

At the height of his heroics in the 2015 FIFA U-17 Cadet Championship in Chile, the Lagos-born attacker was a subject of interest from many European clubs.

He eventually settled for German side Wolfsburg but a culmination of injuries and a lack of playing opportunities meant he cut a forlorn figure during his time at the Volkswagen Arena. If anyone has by chance seen Osimhen play, his tenacious and fierce approach to football are as obvious as his lanky nature.

He may be seen barking at teammates if they fail to pass when he’s perfectly placed and poised to convert, as he did at Jonathan Ikone in a Champions League game against Ajax. Or, he may be found breathing down the necks of defenders, and standing toe to toe against them at the heat of the moment, as he did to Cesar Azpilicueta against Chelsea. Osimhen is fearless, fierce and friendly at the same time, as those who know him personally have commented.

Victor Osimhen seemed ready to take on European football when he joined Wolfsburg, but things didn’t quite turn out as expected…

Following long periods on the treatment table at Wolfsburg, and a lack of minutes, the attacker went on summer trials with Zulte Waregem. His time at the Belgian team was indeed a trying time in his career as a malaria bout ensured he wasn’t in the best condition to show his quality.

Young and hungry, he also trialed with Belgian Champions Club Brugge who also rejected him as he could not make the grades in their opinion. Depression almost set in for the youngster, as he changed his approach, cutting his hair very short and deleting his pictures from social media. He described that period as a very low point in his career. He was not living up to billing, apparently, for no fault of his.

Osimhen finally found glee at Charleroi, a club that gave him everything a young player needed — an opportunity to show his quality, an ambience to grow, and a place to make mistakes without being pummeled for it.

He shone brightly and became a cult hero with the Belgians. He also stung those who had rejected him in the past, as he made a case for himself scoring 20 goals in 34 games as he became the toast of a few clubs.

After a couple of lackluster stints in Germany and Belgium, Charleroi proved to be the right place for Victor Osimhen to show what he’s got

Lille came calling afterwards and the young striker made the move to the North of France for €7M. With a new challenge, and fresh possibilities being presented to him in one of Europe’s biggest leagues, Osimhen set a 20-goal target for himself at the beginning of the season.

His hunger had piqued even further and the national team had also given him an opportunity to showcase himself among the big boys, making the final 23 to the African Cup of Nations and playing in the 3rd round game against Tunisia.

Ever since, he has scored 4 goals in 9 appearances for the Super Eagles. He is on the up again, and is living up to reckoning. It was only going to be a matter of time before he staked a claim for the greatest heights.

I think it has been rosy for me since I moved to France. After the Under 17 world cup I thought everything was going to be fine but, in Wolfsburg, I learned a lot regardless of the fact that I played less. That was what prepared me for the future which I am living now and I had to go to Belgium to resurrect my career and that helped me as well and that is why I am here and I want to continue working hard to get to where I want to be,” he said in an interview with Oma Akatugba.

Osimhen scored 18 goals at Lille this season, with 10 games still to be played, before the French government and organizers of the championnat rather hastily announced the end to the 2019-20 season. He had met his target, considering the conditions, and created an impression that’d make him the African summer toast. With 6 assists to go with, it meant the young Nigerian was involved in 24 goal contributions in only 38 appearances. Quite promising to say the least.

Lille was the last stop for Victor Osimhen so far. 18 goals with the French side this season earned him a brand new contract with Napoli

Napoli came calling and the rest is history, as they say. It was never in doubt Osimhen would start an adventure at the San Paolo but that didn’t come easy.

After news broke that the Nigerian was on the market, a host of clubs pushed to their best efforts for his signature. Tottenham, Liverpool, and fellow Serie A rivals Milan were among the sides that tried to counter the plans of Napoli.

But Osimhen only had one club in mind and it was always Napoli. So determined he was to see the move go through that he changed agents midway during negotiations.

With experienced Dries Mertens still at the club, Osimhen still has the chance to learn and become the finished product under the guidance of the veteran striker for at least two more years. In Gennaro Gattuso, the young Nigerian has a manager who is not afraid to take risks and give the full backing to allow him succeed.

A new chapter awaits the 21-year-old in Naples. The San Paolo faithful are more than eager to see how this plays out.