Arsenal, Manchester United, and Newcastle United have emerged as potential destinations for Napoli star Victor Osimhen. Jyotirmoy Halder dissects the developments that the transfer saga has witnessed in recent times.
Before joining Napoli, Victor Osimhen was already a star. During his days in France, he was considered one of the best emerging talents in the world. And there were relevant pieces of evidence backing that claim.
Prior to his arrival in Naples, he had a spell with Charleroi in the first division of Belgium, where he had 12 league goals to his name. Then, there was the 2018/19 season in Ligue 1 that put the Nigerian under the spotlight of multiple European suitors, with the marksman racking up 13 goals and four assists from 27 matches for Lille.
In the following summer, the Lagos-born starlet moved to Italy for a reported transfer fee of around €81.3 million and subsequently scored 10 league goals last season from 24 appearances. While the fee and the manner of the move remains under the scanner, the transfer has been worth the hype.
This term, the number of league goals has extended to 12, with Osimhen now establishing himself as one of the most lethal finishers in Europe.
Just as the sweetness of honey attracts flies, the growing reputation of a prodigy attracts new prying eyes. Osimhen has those, not honey or flies but the prying eyes in the European market. But not every admirer owns the financial muscle to lure the forward away from Italy this summer.
However, multiple reports from Italy have already revealed that Osimhen sees his long-term future in the Premier League, with clubs such as Manchester United, Newcastle United, and Arsenal understandably ramping up their efforts to land the 23-year-old sharpshooter. Though, a sense of uncertainty prevails over a potential summer move in every case, why? Let’s discuss.
The case of Arsenal
As far as the transfer hunt for the Nigerian phenomenon is concerned, Arsenal are believed to be at the front of the queue. Several reports have reiterated that Mikel Arteta is one of the biggest followers of the forward, and the executives of the London-based club have already made contact with the entourage of the player over a possible summer move.
Since Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang left the Gunners to join Barcelona in the winter transfer window, Arsenal have been looking for a replacement. And with shadows of bewilderment hovering over the long-term stay of Alexandre Lacazette, the North Londoners may not have a choice other than signing a centre-forward in the summer. Osimhen could be the one.
But, first of all, they need to qualify for the next season’s Champions League football. The striker prefers a move to a club that regularly plays in the Champions League. Arsenal have not played in the respective competition since the 2016/17 season but are close to qualifying for the next season’s edition.
As such, the route seems pretty clear. They need to qualify for the elite tournament first and then submit a bid for the Nigerian, who is valued at over €100million by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis.
The case of Manchester United
Like Arsenal, Manchester United have been keeping tabs on the promising forward for a long time. But they had never seen him as a primary transfer target until the Mancunian side came to the realisation that they could not make a move for their prime target for the centre-forward position, Erling Braut Haaland, this summer.
Having sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer before the January transfer window, Man United brought in Ralf Rangnick to oversee the managerial proceedings within the club. But so far, his arrival has not helped United regain momentum in the Premier League. If anything, they have deteriorated further.
In the race to qualify for the next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish in the Premier League, they are now behind the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. The chances of achieving that feat are slim, if not completely lost.
And also, reports suggest that they need to offload their deadwoods first to pocket some funds before considering making a move for a highly-rated player like Osimhen. Furthermore, players such as Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Edinson Cavani, and Juan Mata are all leaving the club in the summer, prompting the club to spend on other areas of the pitch as well.
The case of Newcastle United
Newcastle would not have been even in the discussion had it been taking place before October 2021. But since the Saudi Arabian-backed group, namely Public Investment Fund (PIF), acquired the ownership of the club last Autumn, they made some jaw-dropping appointments. They now have a much more encouraging manager and are finishing the 2021/22 season with a stronger group of players than previously anticipated.
In short, they are now ready to push for the top six. But they are not there yet in regard to their pulling power, as shown by their failed attempt to sign Osimhen in the last January transfer window. They offered Napoli an amount of around €100million for the former VfL Wolfsburg youngster, but the Naples-based side, determined to keep the forward until the end of the season, immediately rebuffed Newcastle’s proposal.
The English club went on to obtain the services of 30-year-old Chris Wood. But with all due respect to the Kiwi forward, an ambitious club needs more than that. And the stories, involving the Magpies, claim that they will try to land Osimhen once again this summer.
The offer, of course, must be over €100million. But even then, it would be interesting to see whether the Nigerian, who has placed his preference to play in the next season’s Champions League above all of his transfer demands, makes a move to a team that will not be part of Europe next season, let alone competing for the Champions League glory.
The way Osimhen has developed in Italy. It would not be a shock if he decided to give Serie A another chance, even though the likes of Beto and Gianluca Scamacca are reportedly being eyed by Napoli.
Of course, there will be considerable interest and proposals from the best of Europe in the summer, but De Laurentiis seems keen on keeping hold of the striker, who is bound to Napoli’s terms until June 2025. But if a move is to go through, it is likely that the striker will next land in England.