We as fans never realize of the hardships that footballers go through to get to where they are today. It requires sheer commitment, dedication and talent in their craft to make a name for yourself in the world of European football and Victor Osimhen is no different.
Today the CrossBar team will be analyzing one of the most sought after young strikers in Europe and diving into how he came to the podium he’s at right now.
Lets dive in (that wasn’t a diving joke, honest)
Osimhen grew up in the Olusosun areas of the Lagos state to a poor Nigerian family. As a kid, he used to survive by hawking bottled water on the streets of Lago as his father had lost his job.
But he never gave up on his dream of becoming a footballer and regardless of the harsh realities of life, continued to take big leaps towards that goal.
Where I grew up, people lived on the other side of an open dump. I and my friends would go there every Friday or Sunday to find crampons or shoes. We stayed there for a long time. It was funny! We saw it as a game but when you think about it, It was always a struggle.Victor Osimhen on TVC
Osimhen did get his first boots from his older brother, though, who was a newspaper vendor at the time. He’s someone the young forward really admires and respects. This attitude has translated to his football as well, which we see bloom.
U17 AFCON and Wolfsburg
The U17 African Cup of Nations came at just the right time for Victor as he took to the competition like a duck to water. The young forward scored 10 goals becoming the AFCON’s record goalscorer. Based on the tournament he was coveted by clubs from around the world with Wolfsburg coming out on top.
He failed to score a single goal for the German side while being demoted to U23s. Out on loan, he failed to impress at Belgian clubs Club Brugge and Zulte Waregem.
But it was in Belgia that Victor Osimhen finally burst onto the scene with Sporting Charleroi. He went on to score 12 goals and provide 3 assists in 25 games in the Jupiler Pro League, signaling, finally, that he had arrived.
His agent Mogi Bayat had stated that he had more lucrative offers from many clubs in Europe but chose to join Lille in Ligue 1 instead. Which is propelling him towards even greater heights. Let’s look at some of them in more detail.
He arrived in the league with a bang scoring 2 goals in his debut and Victor Osimhen has continued that rich reign of form throughout the campaign. Here’s a radar outlook of his season by Understat
He’s played 2199 minutes as a forward while the rest as a substitute for Lille. With an xG (Expected goals) per 90 of around 0.62 which far eclipses the average of 0.37 shows how much the forward is involved in the goals for Lille.
His goals per 90 minutes (0.51) exceeds league average of 0.37 signalling his goal scoring prowess and finishing ability. The two things that caught our eye were the xGBuildup90, which means the involvement of a player in build up is virtually non existent and same is the case with key passes per 90.
We’ll explain why that’s so later but how does he fare compared to the competition? Below are the Top 5 goal scorers in Ligue 1:
|Wissam Ben Yedder||18|
Tied with Neymar after your first season in the top flight? Not bad at all. The second graphical representation that we’re about to show you focuses on the xG per 90 (Goal involvements) for all of the top scorers you see to showcase where he stands.
Ignoring the fact that Mbappe and Neymar are superhuman, Osimhen himself has done very well for Lille in his debut season in European football with no shortage of belief that he can’t excell further.
The Nigerian takes almost all of his shots from inside the box, choosing different positions all around the box to have a shot at goal. Below is an understat shot map showcasing these shots:
That’s a box striker if we’ve ever seen one, dangerous from out to in with the ability to shoot from different angles making him incredibly difficult to predict. He’s also been shown to be incredibly dangerous from the air as shown by this amazing Radar by StatsBomb
He’s winning 3.67 Aerial Duels per game along with winning the ball back for his team quickly during an initiated team press, showing his willingness to work hard.
He averages 15.16 touches inside the box showing his strength lies inside the box and Lille are right to utilize him as a way to break the opposition defensive line.
Now let’s take a look at how he plays.
Style of Play:
Lille are a conventional counter attacking team, its what got Nicolas Pepe the plaudits he rightly deserved as this Lille side under Galtier are masters of it.
They create space in behind a defensive line with willing runners and the fantastic duo of Soumare and the long forgotten Renato Sanches pulling the strings. Spicy
All of that plays into Victor Osimhen’s hands. He is a fantastic athlete with a long lanky frame yet strength to hold off his man very well. Perfectly adept at playing both as a target man and a forward that runs inside from the channels.
A modern forward that combines pace, power, hold up and finishing. The sky is the limit for the kid and we cannot stress how impressed we are with his hold up play.
Here’s an example of his nimble control and fantastic holdup play. The ball is knocked down towards him, normally you’d see target men try and win the first header to initiate play.
Instead, he brilliantly takes it on his chest and maneuvers the ball out of a tight spot where he’s surrounded by defenders. Lille uses Osimhen’s aerial prowess to their advantage, committing many bodies forward and trusting him to play them in.
Due to his lanky frame and really commendable dribbling ability, he gets fouled often, around 40 times to be exact throughout the campaign. So we’ll show you a case of him combining both his strong hold up play and his dribbling ability.
Here, he gets the ball through a flick on, controls it and dribbles past nearly 3 players to set Lille on their way. Its an absolutely invaluable trait to have as a modern forward.
Like any young player, Osimhen has his weak spots that he needs to work on to reach the next level. He’s been known to be a really sloppy passer with just a pass success rate of 64%. It was the same in his last season in Belgia where despite scoring alot of goals his passing left much to be desired.
They’ll either be overhit or just wayward and we’ve seen some of his team mates get frustrated with him on such occassions a few times (we’re looking at you, Renato).
Another aspect we picked up on are offsides. Way too often the young Nigerian has been caught out by the opposition’s defensive line since he chooses to stay on the shoulder of the defender making the run.
Osimhen has been offside 33 times this season. A little more discipline is required when making those darts in behind but that’s also encouraging since it facilitates the way Lille plays, they draw you and your defensive line in so they can spring forward on counters at a blistering pace.
If there was a player that we had to compare him to, and who’s surpsingly similar with alot of the same qualities then its Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham. Don’t believe us? Look at this:
The style of play and the statistics all point towards the same thing. Considering how Tammy Abraham has done this season we can all safely assume that Victor won’t have a problem adapting to any league or style of play.
We can all safely assume that Victor Osimhen is about to become one of this summer (or the next) biggest transfers with major clubs after his signature. Finding a target man who’s as mobile as he is, is a rare commodity with clubs such as Liverpool and Manchester United after him all w can say