When Erling Haaland is trying to help Manchester City hunt down Arsenal on Sunday, the world’s best centre-forward will be 1,200 miles away, inspiring a title challenge of his own.
Not every Premier League follower is familiar with Victor Osimhen, but they soon will be.
The Nigerian is driving Napoli towards only the third Serie A title in their history, and their first since the days of Diego Maradona.
They are 13 points clear at the top ahead of Sunday’s meeting with struggling Cremonese.
Maradona’s status in Naples has to be seen to be believed. Walk through the city centre and you will find shrines to him. In the Spanish Quarter, the murals depicting the great Argentine take the breath away.
He may not be quite as prolific as Haaland – who is? – but Osimhen is a more complete No 9. Sporting a protective mask after breaking his cheekbone and eye socket in November 2021, the 24-year-old even looks like a superhero.
Roaring his team on from sidelines after he had been substituted during a recent win over Roma, Osimhen showed himself to be natural leader.
His goal in that game – controlling the ball on his chest and knee before despatching a sweet volley – was one of the best in Europe’s top five leagues this season.
Osimhen’s qualities make him the ideal Premier League No 9 but he would not come cheap.
Aurelio De Laurentiis insisted this week that Osimhen was not for sale and the Napoli owner, with his impressive sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli at his side, is known as one of the game’s most ferocious negotiators.
Agents and sporting directors who tried – and failed – to sign stars like Kalidou Koulibaly and Dries Mertens in their prime break out in a cold sweat when recalling talks with Napoli.
It will be no different when they come for Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia this summer.
Given Chelsea’s brashness in the market, De Laurentiis and Giuntoli will probably be thinking they can get half a billion for the pair of them.
They will certainly be looking to double the £75million paid to Lille for Osimhen in July 2020.
‘I can tell you that Osimhen is not for sale,’ De Laurentiis told German publication Bild. ‘Our players are in demand, but I don’t have to sell anyone. We don’t have any debts.’
Expect Osimhen, whose contract expires in two years, to come under serious pressure from supporters to sign a new deal.
Yet nearly every elite player today craves the challenge of the Premier League. With United and Chelsea badly lacking a No9, it promises to be a busy summer.
One thing is certain: an Osimhen vs Haaland duel would be something to savour.
Adapted from Daily Mail UK