Where Next for Victor Osimhen?

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Victor Osimhen

He has no doubt had a good season with Charleroi culminating into his being linked with several clubs, including AC Milan and city rivals-Inter Milan. With Southampton now joining the fray, the big question is-where will Victor Osimhen ply his trade next seasons?

Victor Osimhen was heavily linked to join AC Milan in the last winter transfer window but it was not to be, while city rival-Inter Milan was touting him to replace their wantaway striker and captain, Mauro Icadi at the end of the season. However, English Premier League side Southampton are said to have joined the race to sign the VfL Wolfsburg striker, Victor Osimhen this summer.

Osimhen has spent the season on loan in Belgium playing for Charleroi, where he has flourished, finding the back of the net on 16 occasions in all competitions this season.

Reports however have it that the 20-year-old had already verbally agreed to complete a summer switch to AC Milan before heading to LOSC Lille on loan for the 2019/20 campaign.

The decision to loan him to Lille is for him to get sufficient game time to aid his growth and the deal is expected to be rubber stamped in the summer, when his loan deal with Charleroi expires in the summer.

Charleroi are due for some compensation from Wolfsburg to wipe out the option they have on signing him permanently after his loan spell expires.

Southampton are said to be bent on luring him to St Mary’s Stadium this summer and are confident of the player successfully obtaining a work permit.

Osimhen is still held in high esteem by Wolfsburg and is likely to be a man in demand this summer and the Bundesliga club would likely ask for a fee worth £20 million for the Nigerian attacker.

Southampton are really pressing to have a new striker in their fold next season considering the injury problems their attackers were confronted with last season.

Not one of Southampton’s current forward options have gone without niggling injury problems this season. Danny Ings and Michael Obafemi’s respective hamstring woes are well documented, Shane Long often sustains knocks, and Charlie Austin is not a reliable option.

Southampton have identified the young forward as a player for their team for next season and are confident of him securing a work permit using the other means bar the number of appearances for the senior national team of Nigeria.

In 2016, Osimhen turned down a move to Arsenal after Arsene Wenger had revealed he was close to bringing him to the Emirates, but his family and representatives chose the German club ahead of the Gunners.

“It’s true that a big team like Arsenal wanted me and I feel honoured to be invited over. But personally I feel Wolfsburg is a ladder for me to reach my professional goals,” Osimhen had told BBC Sport.

“Yes Arsenal is a good team for young players but Wolfsburg is the best club for me. This is the best place for me to learn and develop because my heart is here with Wolfsburg. The club’s plan for my career is very encouraging and I believe with God on my side I can grow to become one of the best players in the world,” he had revealed.

His impressive form at Charleroi earned him a recall to the Super Eagles squad for the 2019 Nations Cup qualifier against South Africa and he also started in 0-0 friendly draw against Uganda in Asaba.

“My confidence level was very low at some point and what going out on loan to Charleroi has done for me is unexplainable,” Osimhen he said.

“It was tough in Germany because of the high expectations – some people started doubting me and also pushed me to start doubting myself as well.

“The football in Belgium has helped, I also have a wonderful group of players around me and the coaching crew has been great with me.

“As a young player, you hear people comparing you to other stars that emerged from the under-17 World Cup and never fulfilled their potential.

“But now at Charleroi I have comfortably found my happiness again, and I thank everyone in Belgium and at Wolfsburg for the opportunity and support.”

Osimhen was the top scorer as Nigeria clinched a fifth Under-17 World Cup title in 2015 with 10 goals in Chile, which saw him win the Golden Boot and Silver Ball.

After the tournament he decided against joining English side Arsenal, to sign with the 2009 German champions Wolfsburg in January 2016, but injuries restricted him to 16 appearances for the club in all competitions.

Despite being a part of the squad for two years, his lack of games meant he missed out of the 2018 World Cup with Nigeria.

“I am still young and I think it wasn’t meant to be, but I can still look forward to the future,” he added.

“I thank Coach Gernot Rohr for the opportunity to return to the squad and I hope to keep working hard to stay in his plans.”

On the back of his impressive performance at 2015 U-17 World Cup with the Nigerian emerging the top scorer to claim both the Golden Boot and Silver Ball, the attacker joined the former German Bundesliga champions.

However, the 19-year-old failed to settle into the Wolves’ senior set-up amid injury struggles and was shipped on loan to Charleroi this summer.

Since moving to Belgium, the youngster has rediscovered his form, scoring seven goals in 12 outings across all competitions.

The rise to prominence of Osimhen looked set to address a long-standing problem of Nigerian football: the lack of a dead-eye centre-forward. Not since the passing of Rashidi Yekini, the famed Super Eagles goleador has there been anything close to a sure thing, a player with the ability to ruthlessly home in on goal.

A move to Germany always seemed a problematic fit, as Wolfsburg, whom he joined, are lacking in stability, and have been for quite a while. The constant upheaval, both managerially and administratively, would provide no kind of proper environment for fostering a promising young player.

It seems now as though the intervening period has been rather wasted, as has some of his lustre. The German side was eager to farm him out in the summer, and he suffered the indignity of a number of trials in Belgium and the Netherlands, before finally earning a loan move to Charleroi. Not the most auspicious of clubs then or even manner of arrival, given his promise and the fact that he was still only 19.

That is not to say that Osimhen is that ood; merely that he may be ready now to lead and if flights of fancy are acceptable, then how far off an invitation to the senior national team is he?

Rohr extended invitations to him in his early days as Super Eagles boss, all the while the 19-year-old was barely getting minutes at Wolfsburg.

There really is something there and while there are still a few rough edges, the diamond is just starting to peak out.

What however is not clear is which club Osimhen will star for next season.