Arsenal were “very close” to bringing Victor Osimhen to the Premier League in summer 2020 before he joined Napoli in a club-record £51 million deal, Italian journalist Paolo Bargiggia has told 1 Sport Radio.
Despite suffering a difficult debut season at the Stadio San Paolo – one disrupted by covid, injuries and off-the-field controversies – it’s telling that Napoli’s belief in the rangy Nigerian didn’t waver for a second.
A club that discovered Edinson Cavani and gave Gonzalo Higuain the best years of his career always knew Osimhen would come good.
And with six goals in six games this season – two in the thrilling Europa League draw with Leicester City – Napoli’s faith has been rewarded with interest.
“He has everything – technique, strength, a great leap, speed and power. He’s a player who’s still young, he has room for improvement and I think he has shown a part of what he can do,” former Italy international Beppe Signori told TMW last week while comparing Osimhen to a goal-scoring legend.
“I say (he plays like) Didier Drogba. They are very similar, physically and technically.”
The mere mention of the former Chelsea talisman has Arsenal supporters waking in a cold sweat. Drogba famously scored ten goals in 15 games against the Gunners in his Premier League pomp.
But if Arsenal had been more decisive, the second coming of Drogba could be leading the line at the Emirates rather than strutting his stuff in the baby blue of Napoli.
“Osimhen was followed by Arsenal,” explains Bargiggia. “He was very close to the Gunners but (Napoli director) Cristiano Giuntoli spoke with Aurelio De Laurentiis and the president broke the delay.
“So Napoli decided (to bid for Osimhen then and there) and managed to buy him.”
In June 2020, Osimhen’s former agent admitted Arsenal had expressed an interest in his client, as had Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
Now, after firing Napoli to the top of the Serie A table with six wins out of six, the most expensive player in Partenopei history is finally showing what all the fuss was about.