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Napoli coach says Italian club lucky to have “eager to learn” Osimhen

By Ifeanyi Ibeh
22 October 2021   |   10:31 am
Head coach of Napoli Luciano Spalletti says the Italian Serie A outfit are lucky to have Victor Osimhen, adding that the Nigerian’s instinct to exploit open spaces is the reason behind his impressive early season form. Osimhen managed just 10 goals in his debut season with Napoli, no thanks to a spate of injuries and…

Napoli’s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen shoots to score the second goal during the UEFA Europa League Group C match against Legia Warsaw on October 21, 2021 at the Diego Maradona stadium in Naples. Photo: Tiziana Fabi / AFP.

Head coach of Napoli Luciano Spalletti says the Italian Serie A outfit are lucky to have Victor Osimhen, adding that the Nigerian’s instinct to exploit open spaces is the reason behind his impressive early season form.

Osimhen managed just 10 goals in his debut season with Napoli, no thanks to a spate of injuries and a bout of Covid-19 that led many to think that the Italian club may have goofed in spending a club record €81.3 million to lure the Nigerian from Lille to Naples.

Now in his second year with the Blues, the 22-year-old has now scored nine times in just 10 appearances for Napoli, with his latest arriving in Thursday night’s 3-0 demolition of Legia Warsaw in the Europa League.

Osimhen’s second-half introduction helped galvanise Napoli in the win over the Polish side, and Spalletti has now revealed that the Nigerian international’s willingness to learn and his off-the-ball movement have been key to his brilliant form so far this season.

“He is accustomed to running in wide open spaces, coming back to get the ball, or supporting his teammate and then making the run are things he is still learning,” Spalletti told Football Italia. “He’s a great professional, a lovely guy who is eager to learn and improve.”

“His teammates adore him, he wants to be with them all the time, and we’re very fortunate to have him,” added the 62-year-old former Inter Milan and Roma coach.

Spalletti wasn’t alone in showering encomiums on Osimhen, as the Nigerian’s attacking partner and Belgium international Dries Mertens also joined in on praising the former Wolfsburg striker.

Speaking after Napoli’s win over Legia, Mertens, who saw Osimhen equal his record of scoring in three successive European cup games, praised Osimhen’s willingness to improve, especially after a difficult debut season that was beset by Covid-19 and injury problems.

“Osimhen arrived last season and had a few difficulties settling. He also had injury problems, so I tried to help him. He’s a smart lad who wants to listen and learn,” Mertens told Football Italia.

“I give him all the love in the world,” he added.