Is the Napoli frontman cut from the same cloth as the legendary Portuguese superstar?
Manchester United supporters could be forgiven for musing at the possibility of Victor Osimhen playing for their club after he rose higher than the Cagliari defence last weekend to send Napoli 1-0 up after 14 minutes.
In a sense, it bore similarities to one man at the club whose late headed goal aided the Red Devils’ 3-2 success over Tottenham Hotspur. For Cristiano Ronaldo, that sort of powered header was not a first and neither was it the last for the Partenopei marksman.
Indeed, the Nigeria superstar has made it something of a habit this term evidenced by goals against Leicester City in the Europa League group stage, as well as against Torino, Venezia, Cagliari and last time out, at Cagliari.
Even more commendable is the fact three of Osimhen’s four-headed goals in Serie A this term have come since a return from a serious facial injury suffered in November. Rather than avoid aerial battles out of fear of a possible aggravation, the Super Eagle never seems to hold back, at times riskily.
The decisiveness of the Nigerian and Ronaldo last time out further amused owing to the varying levels of criticism received heading into the games with Igor Tudor’s team and Spurs respectively.
For Osimhen, there was some censure at firing blanks against yet another so-called big club in Italy’s top division. For the former Real Madrid forward, there was a suggestion he had bailed on teammates in their ensuing derby thrashing by Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
The former Real Madrid star thrives off criticism, an intrinsic mentality that has been evident for the majority of his prime and even after clocking 30, the time when normal football players begin to decline.
While Osimhen is still a long way off reaching the heights of Ronaldo, his fierce mentality cannot be downplayed. This is something Tudor may have realised in hindsight after inadvertently motivating the frontman before last weekend’s meeting in Verona.
“No, no,” he said when asked how highly he rated the Nigerian’s threat. “[Osimhen] is not the best striker in Serie A, no. He’s one of the best, but for me, the best is Dusan Vlahovic.”
While there was no public response from the Napoli number nine, his showing at a ground where the Azzurri lost in January last year and against opponents they had not defeated in three meetings was exactly what the doctor ordered.
It undoubtedly resurrected talk over the striker’s future, with fans of Arsenal and Man United emphasising the frontman’s suitability for their side.
GOAL recently explained the pros and cons of a switch to North London for the Super Eagles forward whose best years still look to be ahead of him.
While the Red Devils have to sort their managerial uncertainty, the stumbling block of negotiating a fee for the Napoli frontman remains an issue for any interested party.
With Edinson Cavani’s contract at Old Trafford running out and Ronaldo not expected to be a long-term fix for the Manchester giants, room can at least be made for the ex-Lille striker if need be.
Having said that, the aforementioned search for a new boss means the 23-year-old may be unwilling to move to a club that has appeared rudderless in recent years.
Indeed, this is dissimilar to the situation at Arsenal, in which everyone at the club looks to be pulling in the same direction with their eye-catching squad building also commendable.
The summer window edges ever closer and with that an expected promise of clarity when trading starts. As for Osimhen, this season is far from over as the striker seeks his 10th goal against Udinese to see him become the first Nigerian to hit double figures in Serie A goals in two different campaigns.
Interestingly, only two of the young striker’s nine strikes have been in Naples, in part explaining why Luciano Spalletti’s troops have the seventh-best home record in the league, whereas they outdo every other side if only results on the road counted.
Title-chasing Napoli could move level with AC Milan with a win over a seemingly ordinary side that have one of the worst records on their travels.
Osimhen’s fierce mentality has seen him accept several challenges, something Ronaldo knows all too well throughout his esteemed and decorated career.