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Exclusive: How the Osimhen Napoli saga played out

Exclusive: How the Osimhen Napoli saga played out thumbnail

With Victor Osimhen’s move to Napoli seemingly imminent, Football Italia spoke to his close associate and Nigerian football journalist Oma Akatugba about this transfer saga.

It had more on-again, off-again moments than the entire series of Friends, but it looks as if Victor Osimhen is finally set to complete his transfer from Lille to Napoli. The fee is reported to be €81m, which would not only make the 21-year-old the most expensive purchase in the club’s history, but also the most valuable African player of all time. That is, of course, assuming the image rights issue can be resolved…

Keeping us up to date throughout the saga, which had many massively conflicting reports from various sources, was chief, sports writer and Osimhen’s friend and associate, Oma Akatugba. Football Italia asked him for more detail on the complicated talks and what Napoli fans can expect from Osimhen.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us and for making sure we were kept up to date on what was really happening behind the scenes. That wasn’t always easy with many mixed reports, including a moment when he seemed ready to reject the move.

The reason he initially hesitated was that he was not very clear about Napoli. He was not sure if he wanted to leave LOSC Lille after one season. He also did not like the fact that his former agent, Jean Gerard Benoit Czajka, was not very honest in how he managed the whole process with Napoli and Lille. So he wanted to clear his head and be sure of what he was getting into. This helped him to unravel all the discrepancies in the whole process, which led to his decision to part ways with Jean Gerard Benoit Czajka.

Napoli hosted Osimhen at their training facilities, meeting President Aurelio De Laurentiis and coach Gennaro Gattuso. Did that charm offensive help?

He liked Naples. He was impressed by the reception he got and meeting with the club president, Aurelio De Laurentiis and the manager, Gattuso made him begin to consider the move to Napoli. His girlfriend also liked the city and that is very important because he loves his girlfriend so much. 

Does he see Napoli as a stepping-stone or as a club where he can stay for many years?

I think he just wants to do well at Napoli and help the club make progress. What happens next will be determined by how everything pans out at Napoli. 

What can Napoli fans expect from Osimhen and could the pressure of the reported €81m price-tag weigh on him?

Osimhen is first of all young, hungry, and very talented. As shown in how long the club has waited to pull this deal off, and how much they have invested in him, he’s a player of immense ability.

He comes from a very humble background, and that makes him even hungrier to succeed. He is very down to earth, respectful, humble and friendly. During his time at Lille, he personally delivered his jersey to a fan, and that tells how respectful and heart-warming he is.

You need to see the fire he plays with to understand how much he wants to do well at Naples. He loves football, always willing to learn and that is very important for growth.

Osimhen has very different characteristics to Napoli’s current strikers, Dries Mertens and Arkadiusz Milik.

In characteristics, I’d say he has the heart of Didier Drogba, the finesse and sharpness of Samuel Eto’o and the spirit and willingness of Victor Osimhen. 

He is different to Mertens and Milik in that he’s younger, works a lot harder and is a fox in the box too. With limited service, Osimhen will bring even more goals to Naples and has the years on him to grow and do well.

Finally, and anyone who knows Napoli will realise just how important this is, because many a transfer has collapsed at the last minute because of it: has his new agent sorted out the image rights?

I really do not know what they have agreed on the image rights. The player clearly wants to have a share of this. What percentage of the image rights he would get perhaps could be the reason why that is still inconclusive. This is the only part of the negotiations that are yet to be fully resolved. I hope they reach an amicable solution as soon as possible.

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