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Ending the drought

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The current football season has thrown us significant surprises. In the Premier League, the duopoly of Manchester City and Liverpool has ended, with Arsenal emerging as a new powerhouse. Over in La Liga, defending champions, Real Madrid have massively struggled and are eight points behind league leaders Barcelona. In the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich’s hegemony is being challenged by longtime rivals Borussia Dortmund and the new powerhouses Union Berlin. And Serie A has not been left behind in all of these as league leaders Napoli look set for their first title in 30 years. 

The team has had several players that have been key to their title race. First, there is the impressive Georgian Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who could turn out to be the best transfer of the current season. He has been partnered well with the trio of Mario Rui, Piotr Zielinski, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo. However, when it comes to scoring goals, the team has been hugely dependent on Victor Osimhen. 

The Nigerian has come to his own this season and has been one of the deadliest strikers in Italy and across Europe. And his performances may be why Napoli break their longtime title drought. 

Victor Osimhen career stats 

Victor Osimhen first came to light in the 2019-20 season when he scored 13 goals and provided four assists for Lille in Ligue 1. Thai earned him a transfer to Napoli. His first two seasons were average: he scored 24 goals and provided five assists across 51 games.

However, this season has been different, as Osimhen has brought his best to the table. The Nigerian has scored 18 goals, with only Erling Haaland scoring more than him in the top five leagues. This stat is more impressive considering that his Expected Goals (xG) was only 12.6.

The 24-year-old has also been equally accurate, having 40 per cent shot accuracy. One of the reasons Osimhen has shone so brilliantly is that his only responsibility is to put the ball into the back of the net. It is because players such as Kvaratskhelia, Zielinski, and Rui have taken over the creative department, with Osimhen the focal point of their balls.

Data from Smarterscout shows that he is rated 99 for shooting and 96 for dribbling. Apart from that, he is also rated at 92 for receiving balls in the penalty box. This shows that under Luciano Spalletti, he has a specific role which plays to his strengths and Napoli’s too. 

This is further validated by his shot map from Soccerment, which shows that he has taken only two shots from outside of the box. Osimhen is also the best player in Serie A and the fourth-best player across the top five leagues regarding the Expected Offensive Value Added (xOVA), a metric that ensures the entire attacking output a player delivers for his team.

According to fbref, Osimhen averages 7.02 touches in the penalty area, among the top four percentile strikers. Apart from shooting stats, Osimhen fares very poorly in other departments. This does not mean he lacks the required qualities, but Napoli’s system needs him to be around the opposition box. And it has paid off massively for Napoli, who won’t mind if he continues to put the ball back into the net.

Victor Osimhen xOVA

Victor Osimhen strengths and weaknesses 

For a player who is the top scorer in Serie A, Victor Osimhen has very few touches on the ball during a match. When he does have the ball, he only takes a few touches before unleashing a shot or pass (which is rare). And for any player who scores this amount of goals must have great off-the-ball work, which Osimhen has in spades.

He is an expert at exploiting half-spaces and times his run to perfection to run in behind defences. Osimhen is also very particular about where he stays on the pitch when Napoli are starting a counterattack. The Nigerian seldom goes to the wings and always uses the centre space and the two inside channels, especially the right.

And Osimhen’s game is centred around making these runs repeatedly throughout the match. Of course, this means he is caught offside many times, but when he times his run to perfection, the usual result is the ball ending in the back of the net.

On top of that, Osimhen is a very adept natural dribbler, which helps him to use his quick feet inside the box. This sole quality has proved very helpful as all his 18 goals have come inside the box, with seven coming inside the six-yard box.

As if all this was not enough, the Napoli striker also boasts a height of 1.86 metres, allowing him to dominate the opposition’s defenders. Five goals from headers prove that he is using his physical stature to significant effect. This also makes it difficult for the opposition to dispossess him off the ball. Since he plays most of the game in and around the penalty box, there is always a high chance of Napoli winning a penalty or a free-kick in an advantageous position on the pitch.

And with Napoli having one foot in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, Osimhen also has the chance to show his attacking incisiveness against the best that world football offers. 

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Victor Osimhen transfer news 

The team that Napoli has created requires years to build. Osimhen joined the club in 2020, but it’s only in the current season that the Partenopei have a title-winning squad. This will alert the top clubs across Europe starting to sniff around Osimhen and his teammates. 

In the case of the Nigerian forward, the Premier League clubs have taken an interest in signing him. Among them, the two most clubs interested are Chelsea and Manchester United. The Blues have been taking the football world by storm with the unique transfer strategy of their owner Todd Boehly. Chelsea have already spent more than €500 million in the last two transfer windows. This includes the signing of the Ukrainian sensation Mykhaylo Mudryk and the British record transfer of Enzo Fernandez.

On the other hand, Manchester United have experienced a resurgence in form and are looking for a top striker, and Osimhen fits the bill perfectly. However, Napoli know the value of the forward and will only part with him if a record-breaking offer comes for him.

On December 18, 2022, Lionel Messi and Co gave a perfect tribute to the late Diego Maradona by winning the FIFA World Cup, the first since 1986 when El Pelusa played. Now it is time for Napoli to do the same by winning the first Serie A title since 1990 when the legend played in Naples.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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