Napoli are on their way to breaking records and that is something they couldn’t have done without one man: Victor Osimhen. The Nigerian striker is conquering Italy and Europe, which puts him right alongside the world’s best.
The 24-year-old Osimhen is currently in his third season at Napoli and he has really exploded this year. The Nigerian already showed glimpses of his incredible talent in earlier seasons, but now he’s on his way to lead the Partenopei to glory, potentially helping them become the first Napoli team to win the title since 1990 – the Maradona days.
Osimhen scored 24 goals in his first two seasons after joining Napoli for €75 million from French side Lille and it was the sort of figure they’d never spent before. This season, he already has 18 league goals in 19 matches, which makes him the second African striker in history to score ten goals in three different Serie A seasons. The only other African to do so was Ballon d’Or winner George Weah.
But Victor Osimhen is not your regular goal scorer; he is the most complete striker in football. Osimhen is strong in the air and on the ground, which he demonstrated against Sassuolo last weekend, holding off two defenders near the edge of the box and smashing it in the near corner. The stats further prove this, as Osimhen wins 63 percent of his aerial duels and completes 73 percent progressive carries. The latter isn’t something we often see, especially since strikers operate higher up the pitch where room for progression is lower.
A few days after the goal in Emilia Romagna, Osimhen showcased another talent of his against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Champions League: his incredible speed. In a lighting quick counter, Osimhen got himself into the right position to finish off a cross by Hirving Lozano. Whenever Napoli struggle with their usual gameplan, they can always smash it forward because of their pacey striker, who always creates danger using movement. It was seen against Roma, where Osimhen created the goal using his ability to occupy a defender, go past him and finish spectacularly late in the game. While other strikers wait for others to create goals, Osimhen’s incredible actions off the ball make him a rare asset. The manner in which he created Stanislav Lobotka’s goal against Verona also shows that, as Osimhen used his movement and ability to occupy defenders and take a player out of the picture to help the Partenopei defensive midfielder score.
There are some factors where Osimhen has improved a lot compared to earlier seasons in Campania. He’s more deadly in front of goal, which means he needs less opportunities to score, and he’s more consistent. As mentioned before, Osimhen has been vital to Napoli’s Scudetto charge and stood up whenever he team needed him. When Napoli went 1-0 down against Atalanta during their visit to Bergamo, Osimhen scored and assisted to turn things around. We also mustn’t forget his two goals against Juventus in Napoli’s 5-1 thrashing of the Bianconeri. Osimhen also has two Champions League goals to his name this season. He can do it anywhere, against anyone.
Osimhen also holds his own when compared to other top forwards across Europe- like Manchester City’s Erling Haaland for example. When looking at their performances on domestic level, Haaland has four more goals than the Nigerian if you exclude penalties (which Osimhen doesn’t take). Note that the Norwegian striker also played four more matches than Osimhen. While Haaland is at 0.92 non-penalty goals per 90 minutes, Osimhen’s tally stands at 0.90.
While Haaland is a better pure goal scorer, Osimhen is a better progressive carrier, header and he takes more shots per 90 minutes. While Napoli are cruising towards the Scudetto and the Champions League Quarter-finals, Manchester City are in an intense fight with Arsenal and yet to put aside RB Leipzig in the Round of 16. Some fans of the Citizens have questioned if Haaland really made their team stronger due to his tendency to become one-dimensional sometimes. With Osimhen, this has never been the case. He gets on the ball when needed and makes an impact. He dictates the tempo of the game through his actions off the ball. It will not be crazy to say that he is a more complete striker than his Norwegian colleague.
As noted by Napoli Club Nigeria, Osimhen has now matched Cristiano Ronaldo’s tally of scoring in eight consecutive goals in Serie A and he is only three goals behind George Weah for the tag of being the African player with the highest number of goals in Serie A. A couple of weeks ago, Osimhen had matched and later shattered Gonzalo Higuain’s record for the most consecutive goals in Serie A for Napoli. The Nigerian has been breaking one record after another and it shows that he might already have a unique legacy in Calcio history.
All stats from Fbref
Jurre van Wanrooij | GIFN