With his lethal strikes, Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen is at the heart of Italian Serie A runaway leaders, Napoli, in an era-defining season. Having bagged another brace on Sunday against Torino, Osimhen is the leading marksman in the Italian league with 21 goals in 23 games.
It might be too early to call, considering that there are still more to play for in the nine months left of 2023. But one thing is certain, Nigeria and Napoli striker Victor Osimhen is in a rich vein of form. And judging by his current form – 25 goals in 28 games this season, the 24-year-old sure has bragging rights to lay claim to being the world’s best striker right now. Only Manchester City’s Erling Haalandand France forward,Kylian Mbappe,come close.
Last Wednesday, Napoli beat German side Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 to reach the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals for the first time in its history. Osimhen’s scored a goal in each half in that match, and it was the first time a Napoli player would score in both matches of a UEFA Champions League knockout round. It is also the first time Napoli would advance to the quarter-final stage of a European Cup/Champions League, all thanks the Super Eagles forward.
If Napoli eventually get to the Champions League final or win the competition, Osimhen would join the exclusive club of African players to have won the coveted ‘Big Ears’, with African football greats like Didier Drogba, Kanu Nwankwo, Tijani Babangida, Finidi George, John Mikel Obi, Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane, among others, in that bracket.
And game recognises game, just as talent instantly recognises genius. The Nigerian has a kindred spirit in the Ivorian. In a chat with SPORT1’s Patrick Berger, Osimhen said of the Chelsea legend: “Didier Drogba is my idol. I loved watching him play as a kid. I always wanted to be like him! We want to give the title to Napoli fans. The passion for football here is simply something you can’t describe.” Last year, Drogba had high praise for Osimhen, when he described the Nigerian as a “complete striker.”
As it stands, with 11 games to go and a massive 19-point lead between it and second placed Inter Milan – and aside from a monumental capitulation, Osimhen’s Napoli are on course to win their first Scudetto in over 30 years, since the great Diego Maradona, inspired them to the title in 1989/90.
Interestingly, Napoli won that Maradona-inspired season ahead of Inter Milan with the legendary Argentina scoring a club-high 16 goals. It was the second time Napoli had emerged Italian champions. Since then, Napoli have finished runner-up on four occasions in the past decade.
But, now with a football nuclear warhead like Osimhen, the Italian Serie A club is blitzing its closest rivals into oblivion on its way to the finish line to become Serie A champion in record time. Only a spectacular collapse can stop them from winning their third Serie A title, since, well, Maradona.
Even though some purists might not put Osimhen and Maradona in the same bracket, Napoli becoming Italian champions this season would give the former some ample space in the list of Napoli greats. From the great beyond, even Diego would have no qualms about that.
Interestingly, it took Osimhen just 197 games to score 100 goals, faster than some of the all-time greats, according to ESPN. It took the GOATs–Lionel Messi and C. Ronaldo 210 and 301 games respectively to reach a century of goals.
He is also on track to break the record of Liberia’s George Weah, who scored 46 goals to set an all-time African players highest goals record in the Italian Serie A. At 24, barring injuries and other factors, the Nigerian striker still has time on his side to cement his name in the history books.
Following Napoli’s 5-1 win against serial Italian champions Juventus in January, Osimhen scored twice and made an assist, the striker gave an insight into his champion mentality. Speaking to DAZN, the Super Eagles striker expressed his delight for the win and understands his role in the team full of equally talented players.
“I’m happy about the result, we go all out for the result. I am happy for the team and I’m happy as well to contribute two goals and an assist for the team. We want to keep on building on this momentum. We have good quality players in our team and we want to keep on going like this,” he said.
Osimhen has shown in his career that he is not just a team player, he has the talent and requisite qualities – right attitude, hard work, consistency, discipline, and more – to be named among the world’s best players.
Last Thursday, the Nigerian striker posted a picture of him with the Man-of-the-Match award after Napoli’s victory on Wednesday, with the message “Last Night was Magical,God Is the Greatest.” Indeed, it was, for him and his Napoli side. The Divine Hand and goal scoring magic seems to keep hugging his boots and performances.
After leading Argentina to the FIFA World Cup glory in Qatar 2022, Messi was named the world’s best player at the Best FIFA Awards in February, ahead of Mbappe, a World Cup finalist. Osimhen is currently leading Napoli to the Serie A title and probably the UEFA Champions league final and trophy. Anything is possible.
Haaland and Mbappe might disagree, but Victor Osimhen is arguably the world’s best striker right now. If he continues in this trajectory, the future looks even brighter for the Napoli and Super Eagles player,coloured with spectacular match and trophy winning goals.
Arukaino Umukoro is an award-winning writer and journalist. His awards include the CNN/MultiChoice Africa Journalist of the Year Awards (Sports reporting); Diamond Awards for Media Excellence and Nigeria Media Merit Awards.