Reactions and undercurrents are still trailing the long-drawn transfer saga that eventually saw Victor Osimhen move from Lille Metropole of France to SSC Napoli of Italy, and the Italian Serie A club’s sports director, Cristiano Giuntoli has admitted it was a tough negotiation process, megasportsarena.com reports.
Osimhen was eventually formally introduced to the club’s fans and the Italian media at a public ceremony this past midweek, during which the youngster admitted he had initial misgivings about accepting Napoli’s offer, and Giuntoli confessed that it was not easy pulling off the deal.
He went on to disclose that technical buffs at the Naples-based side had been watching the 21-year-old Osimhen since he top scored at the Chile 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, and helped Nigeria win a record-extending fifth title at the Cadet Mundial, and Giuntoli added that everyone at the Neapolitan outfit is happy they have finally got their much-sought after whiz-kid.
The former club of Diego Armando Maradona eventually hooked Osimhen with a princely fee of 70 million euro, with additional trappings and bonus bound to make the figure shoot up even higher, thereby potentially making him the most expensive African player in history and Giuntoli says it was a huge relief that Napoli were able to snatch the lad away from Lille.
Although Giuntoli did not spill the beans over the exact figure of the transfer, independent sources say Napoli paid At €50m plus €10m in bonuses and three youth team players added to the bargain for Osimhen’s signature, which also make the Super Eagles’ rookie Napoli’s most expensive signing ever.
He added that they were further inspire to move for Osimhen after watching his stunning form in only one season with Lille, during which he scored 18 goals and provided six assists in 38 matches for Lille in the 2019/20 campaign.
Osimhen will now compete with Napoli’s all-time top goals scorer, Dries Mertens for the club’s arrow head striker’s role in the upcoming season, but Giuntoli assured that the Nigerian lad will not have any problems settling down into the squad and getting to make his own mark.
Giuntoli recalled with a relish: “I remember Osimhen in the Under-17 World Cup and he had a great tournament. It was a tough negotiation process because it was done at a distance, so clearly we didn’t get the usual sense of whether this was going to work or not. Thankfully, it all went well. It was an expensive investment, but we are convinced he will do very well.”
On his part, Osimhen said he is already looking forward to making his non-competitive debut for his new club in a three-team friendly tournament featuring Aquila and Castel di Sangro, ahead of which he also threw the lid off the assets and style of play he aims to employ in the team.
He explained that his basic style is that he likes to be involved in build-up play and, while adding that he appreciates how he has been warmly welcomed by fans, players, coaches and officials at the club, he conceded that he will have to rely a lot on support from his teammates for him to succeed; then ended by describing Napoli as a squad of great champions.
Although Osimhen also admitted holding initial fears about racism in Italy, he recalled that one night in Naples changed his mind; while the cordial reception he got from the coach, Gennaro Gattuso and club president, Aurelio De Laurentiis convinced him to sign the deal at San Paolo Stadium.
Osimhen confessed: “I admit to being skeptical about the situation of racism in this country. Then, however, I went to Naples and I saw it with my own eyes. At that point, my vision changed, even after meeting the President and with the coach. I’m sure that racism will not be a problem for my career, with the affection of my fans, I will overcome any difficulty.
“My relationship with Gattuso and De Laurentiis is excellent. They were like fathers, I received great demonstrations of affection from all the Napoli fans. I was convinced I would accept a move to Napoli when I talked to the coach and the President. They are giving me a lot of advice. It’s incredible to receive this affection, for a player, motivation is fundamental.
“I’m happy to be at Napoli and I have fantastic teammates. Being here is a big step for me, I have great teammates here. I don’t care about the money, what matters to me is doing great things as a footballer. Being here is a dream come true for me.
“I like to play as a centre-forward, but I can play in any position. I define myself as a player who loves the team play. Passion is fundamental for me, my mentality is based on the idea of never giving up. The game is always open.
“I like to get involved with the play. My team-mates are vital to me. My motto is never say never. Everything is possible in football. This is a squad of great players and it’s a big step up for me to be here. I’m focusing on doing everything I can for the team and helping my team-mates.”