Lille Metropole of France striker, Victor Osimhen’s rising profile and transfer prospects have left his club’s top brass torn between two opposing options, as the French Ligue 1 side will now have to quickly decide whether to sell him for a profit and keep him for better results with the team.
Such is the confession by Lille’s sporting director, Luis Campos, who stressed that the club would love to keep Osimhen beyond his debut season in France, but equally admits that they already face a stiff battle to keep hold of him.
With Osimhen having scored seven goals this season, including in five straight home matches, the Chile 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup top scorer has attracted virile transfer interest from the English Premier League quartet of Arsenal, Manchester United, Newcastle United and Leicester City as well as Barcelona of Spain, which could mean a lot of money for Lille should they agree to sell.
Latest information out of England indicates that Osimhen is now being watched by Newcastle’s chief scout, Steve Nickson, who is said to be keen on taking the youngster to Saint James’ Park in the January transfer window.
However, topmercato.com reports that Lille are not thinking seriously about selling Osimhen in the January window or even at the end of the season, as they aim to keep him for the long term, which could jettison The Magpies’ hopes of buying the in-form striker in the next three months.
Newcastle’s boss, Steve Bruce wants Osimhen to help turn the club’s fortunes around as they have scored the least number of goals in the English top-flight so far this season, with five goals in nine matches to show, along with the EPL’s basement side, Watford.
Consequently, Bruce is in the market for a striker to bolster his attack when the transfer market reopens for business at the start of 2020 and, though The Toon’s interest has reached Campos, the Lille top shot confessed that the club is torn between accepting a deal for the striker while he is hot, keeping him till the summer before letting him go or hold him till another season.
The odds against Lille now are either for them to make a profit on the 20-year-old former VfL Wolfsburg of Germany striker they only bought from Sporting Charleroi of Belgium this past summer, and Campos admits it will be difficult to keep hold of Osimhen beyond this campaign.
Campos conceded: “I would like to have the best players and continue with them for all seasons. But when you’re in a club like Lille, we have a lot of clubs in front of us. Someone who scores goals is hard to keep. If he continues like this, I think we will be attacked.
“We already have experience of this, it is normal in the current football. Like all players who have arrived at LOSC, the idea is to help them progress and help the club to progress.”
Furthermore, with Osimhen already joint-top scorer in the league, netting in all five home games for his side and voted player of the month for September, French football expert, Sirik Geffray has tagged the Super Eagles’ rookie ‘sensation of the moment’ and submitted that the lad is ready to step into a higher level of valuation and impact outside France.
This comes at a point reports indicate that Osimhen has found another massive transfer link coming his way, as he is under the radar of English Premier League side, Newcastle United.
So soon after another EPL team, Manchester United are said to have joined rivals Arsenal and Leicester City in the hunt for Osimhen’s signature, alongside Barcelona of Spain, the lanky lad could instead by on his way to joining the club that once had Celestine Babayaro, Obafemi Akinwunmi Martins as well as the Ameobi brothers, Shola and Sammy on their cards.
This is sequel to additional information indicating that The Magpies plan to send scouts to France in order to monitor the development of Osimhen, who played last season on loan from VfL Wolfsburg of Germany to Sporting Charleroi of Belgium, but has quickly adapted to life in France.
After scoring seven goals in nine Ligue 1 outings, the 20-year-old Chile 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup top scorer, who also hit target for Lille against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League, has been touted as a natural future addition to the English Premier League.
A report by Chronicle Live has now disclosed that Newcastle are considering a bid for Osimhen, who replaced Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe at Lille, as The Magpies look to strengthen in the final third and the club’s gaffer, Steve Bruce will want to add another fresh face in attack.
While Joelinton and Andy Carroll were bought by the St James’ Park outfit in the summer, they look likely to cash in on Dwight Gayle in January, such that space could be left open for Osimhen to step in aplomb.
The report indicates further that that Osimhen is on the radar of Newcastle’s chief scout, Steve Nickson, as Toon aim to move fast in order to snatch the youngster, who is being tracked by an increasing number of European clubs after making a brilliant start to his spell with Lille.
Barcelona earlier jumped to the head of the queue of clubs seeking to snap up Osimhen, who has netted eight goals in 11 appearances for Lille this season, won the club’s player of the month award, collected that for the entire Ligue 1 for September and is said to be soaring in value beyond £10.8m.
However, French outlet, Top Mercato adds that Lille are counting on keeping Osimhen until end of the season and do not plan to part with the highly rated youngster in the January transfer window, despite interest from Newcastle and other top clubs.
The report stressed that Lille are not keen on losing a key goals scorer midway through his very first season, in which he has been absolutely on fire, and the Ligue 1 outfit look likely to slam the door on Newcastle, unless The Magpies can change the French club’s view with a big money bid.
Bruce admitted on Friday that the club are planning to step up the scouting of potential targets in the next few weeks and, though pundits believe Osimhen would appear to be more of a summer option, the Newcastle boss added: “We’ll start planning in the next couple of weeks, but January is always a difficult window. We’ll see what’s out there.”
In the wake of a report by Spanish sports newspaper, AS that Osimhen is in the transfer radar of Barcelona, as a likely replacement for Luis Saurez, Geffray went on to suggest that Lille could jolly well sell Osimhen for sell him for three times the amount they bought him four months ago, as his valuation is now around €48m.
Geffray told Sporza: “He is the sensation of the moment. A striker who has not yet turned 21 and did not struggle when he made the switch from Belgium to France. He is already ready for a step higher because he is already a finished article.
“The club are already rubbing their hands because if he continues like this, the clubs will stand in line for him at the end of the season. You know how English clubs are, for example. Then his price of €12m could (rise up to) three or four times.”
In reaction to the speculation, Lille’s sporting director, Luis Campos admitted that his club face a tough task to keep hold of Osimhen, whose brilliant start to his career in France saw him named Ligue 1 Player of the Month for September after two goals and two assists last month.
The 20-year-old Osimhen scored against SCO Angers and Strasbourg, then provided assists versus Stade Rennes and Strasbourg, which saw the former VfL Wolfsburg of Germany striker, who also opened his account in the UEFA Champions League against Chelsea on October 2, win 45% of the vote to place first ahead of Monaco’s Islam Slimani (37%) and Nantes’ Nicolas Pallois (18%).
With seven goals in nine Ligue 1 appearances, Osimhen is the fourth highest goals scorer in the top five European Leagues, behind Bayern Munich’s Lewandowski (11), Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham (both with eight).
Osimhen takes the Ligue 1 player of the month award over from Rennes midfielder, Eduardo Camavinga, who won the gong for August, and Campos predicted that there is more of such to come for the Super Eagles’ rookie, even as he admits Lille will find if hard to keep him next term.
Campos told RMC Sport: ”When you are a club like Lille, it is difficult to keep hold of a striker who scores goals… we’ll be under assault… if he continues like this. It is normal, in the way football currently is… Like all the players who have arrived at Lille in this project, the idea is to continue to help them to improve, for them to help the club and the team to improve in turn.”
An incredible two months for Osimhen in the colours of Lille has resulted in him netting eight goals in 11 appearances for the northern club, then scored on his full debut for Nigeria in a 2-2 friendly draw against Ukraine in September.
Osimhen, who was top scorer as Nigeria clinched a fifth FIFA U-17 World Cup title at Chile 2015, with 10 goals that saw him win the Golden Boot and Silver Ball as well as become the Cadet Mundial’s biggest goal getter ever, confessed that he never dreamt of winning the Ligue 1 gong.
He told BBC Sport: “It’s been an amazing time at this club and to get this award is surreal. I’m grateful to those who voted, thankful to my teammates, our backroom staff and the entire Lille fans for the love. I never expected this to happen so soon but I guess this is what comes when you are surrounded by great players, loved ones and the blessings of God.”