Napoli and the 24-year-old Victor Osimhen once were an impossible force together. The 2022-2023 season saw a duo composed of the Nigerian striker and Georgian forward Khvicha Kvaratskhelia annihilate any defense they faced. Fast forward a year later, and things look rather depressing. A disappointing campaign in the Champions League (QF exit against AC Milan, a 0-1 defeat followed by an uninspiring 1-1 draw) has spiced things up. Kim min-Jae left for Bayern Münich, while Kvara is not the same. Osimhen, scoring 6 goals this season, has beefed with Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, following a video that seemed to mock the player. 

The video showcased a segment highlighting the striker’s missed penalty in their game against Bologna, accompanied by a peculiar, accelerated voiceover. This bizarre social media post follows what seemed to be a strained interaction between Osimhen and Napoli’s manager, Rudi Garcia, during the match. In the final four minutes of the scoreless game, the Nigerian forward was visibly upset with Garcia as he made his way off the field.

Osimhen’s camp responded through his agent, Roberto Calenda, threatening to take legal action: ‘A video mocking Victor was first made public but now belatedly, deleted. A fact that causes serious damage to the player and adds to the treatment that the player is suffering in the last period between media trials and fake news.’

Since then, contract renewal negotiations have stalled; De Laurentiis has come out yesterday, claiming that he “can’t do anything if Osimhen’s mood has changed’. The stance of Napoli’s president is clear: ‘There are excellent relations with him, the contract expires in 2025, there is time. Don’t forget that I sold Koulibaly [to Chelsea] a year before his contract expired.’

Among the interested clubs are Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. But a few more could join in, such as Real Madrid, lacking a real nine to date. 

However, questions remain on the player’s price, with Napoli rarely selling for cheap. Given the shortage of top-tier strikers in Europe’s elite leagues, the competition to sign Osimhen is anticipated to drive his transfer fee well into the hundreds of millions.

Napoli maintains that De Laurentiis is innocent, reassuring that ‘President de Laurentiis never shares any negative comment about Victor’. It remains unclear what the players’ preferences would be, as he has kept playing for Napoli despite the troubled atmosphere. Still, a move to England seems to be prioritized, in light of the quality of the league and the financial possibilities in the Premier League. Osimhen’s contract runs until 2025, and 2024 is rapidly approaching.