If there is one Nigerian player that has been linked with more European clubs than any other, it’s Victor Osimhen. With Lille set to pay 12 million euro to Sporting Chaeleroi to move the Nigerian to France, a new transfer record is on the verge of being broken by the Belgium club
French side, Lille are close to reaching an agreement with the Super Eagles star Victor Osimhen, after making a bid of 12 million euros, with two million euros in bonuses.
Les Dogues are preparing for life without Rafael Leao who is being linked with a departure from the club this summer, and Osimhen has been targeted to replace the Portugal U-21 international.
Osimhen joined Charleroi on loan from German club Wolfsburg last August. He scored 20 goals in 36 games for the club.
Charleroi activated their option to acquire Osimhen on a permanent basis at the end of the season following his satisfactory performances while on loan.
If Sporting Charleroi accepts the bid from Lille, it will be the most expensive sale in their history, breaking the six million euros fee they were paid by Pyramids of Egypt to sign Cristian Benavente.
Osimhen scored 19 goals in 34 league appearances last season, including the playoffs to finish as the highest-ranked Nigerian player in the European Golden Shoe rankings with 28.5 points.
The French league appears to have a higher profile than the Belgian league and it is one in which Nigerian players shone like a million stars in recent past.
Vincent Enyeama – while playing for Lille incidentally famously kept clean sheets in 11 games consecutively and was only 115 minutes shy of beating the record of Gaëtan Huard who had gone 1,176 minutes without conceding a goal in 1992/93 season (Enyeama went 1,061 minutes without conceding in 2013/14 season).
Peter Odewingie had a bumper season in Lille as well as scoring 23 goals in 75 games between 2004 and 2007.
Jay Jay Okocha played for perhaps the highest-profile club of his career when he razzled and dazzled for PSG in the late 1990s.
John Utaka, 24-year-old at the time, became only the third player along with Juste Fontaine and Michel Platini to score consecutive hat-tricks in 74 years of top-flight football in France in 2006 while playing for Rennes.
Now Oshimhen wants to follow in the footsteps of these greats.
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 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 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 U-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.”
His impressive showing for the club also helped him make Nigeria’s 23-man list to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, in which he made just one appearance for the Super Eagles in the competition as the Gernot Rohr’s team progressed to win the bronze medal.