SEASON PREVIEWS

2022/23 Season Preview: Victor Osimhen

What factors will Victor Osimhen's success with Napoli in the 2022/23 season hinge upon?

LaPresse

The 2022/23 season is set to be a pivotal one for Victor Osimhen at Napoli. We assess the lay of the land and look ahead: what factors could influence how things pan out for the Nigeria international?

For the second season running at Napoli, Victor Osimhen had to contend with a major injury. A facial fracture suffered in late November ruled him out for two months, and arguably derailed the Azzurri’s push for the Scudetto.

Nevertheless, the 23-year-old finished the season with 18 goals and two assists in all competitions for Napoli, scored the most headers in the league and was named Serie A’s best under-23 performer. While his struggles against the top teams in the division continued, his profile was significantly burnished nevertheless.

Napoli have gone through a generational shift this summer. Kalidou Koulibaly left to join Chelsea, while Dries Mertens, David Ospina, Faouzi Ghoulam and Lorenzo Insigne have left the club following the expiration of their contracts. It’s change all around at San Paolo.

Osimhen himself was the subject of speculation all summer, but has now stated he wishes to remain at Napoli this season. However one feels about this decision, it makes some sense for him to wait for the perfect opening, especially as apparently no concrete offers have been made. Ostensibly, he will be the standard bearer for this new Partenopei.

Much of the discussion around Osimhen in Italy has been about the alleged selfishness of the rest of the forward line. While this is obviously a subjective read, it cannot be denied that it has taken a while for Napoli to get in tune with their no.9. With him as the centre-piece, there is even more of an incentive for Luciano Spalletti to tailor the team’s play to Osimhen’s peculiarities.

However, there is a trade-off here in that this is, not to be indelicate, a worse team within which he has to work and produce. Also players like Kvicha Kvaratskhelia and Mathias Olivera may be more willing to play for him, but they will be even less familiar with his preferences, at least initially.

There will be a far greater burden on his shoulders as well, and with that comes added pressure. How well can he carry it off considering his feisty personality, which has already been in evidence in preseason?

Shot locations. Now, there is nothing wrong with strikers getting shots away. But let’s face it: Osimhen can be quite wild with his shooting a lot of the time.

Better judgement in terms of when this is necessary will be even more necessary now, considering that the team will look to him for output. This runs the risk of exacerbating his bad habits, so some conscious effort on his part would do him – and Napoli – a world of good.

For one thing, no major injuries. It is a difficult ask considering Osimhen’s physical, no-holds-barred style, but it would do him a world of good if he could manage it.

In terms of output, it feels like the next logical step for the Nigeria international would be a 20-goal league season. That is the benchmark for the elite level of striker, and getting there would suggest that Osimhen is on track to reach his potential.

Appearances: >40 (all competitions)

Goals: >20 (Serie A)

Assists: 5-10 (Serie A)

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