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Victor Osimhen Is Napoli’s Exclamation Point

Victor Osimhen of SSC Napoli celebrates after scoring his opening goal ,during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 leg two match between SSC Napoli and Eintracht Frankfurt at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on March 15, 2023 in Naples, Italy.
MB Media/Getty Images

On a night when visiting Frankfurt fans were clashing with riot police and lighting Naples on fire, Victor Osimhen made sure that there was no one standing in Napoli's way into the Champions League quarterfinals. Thanks to two goals from the Nigerian striker, one on each side of halftime, the current Serie A leaders (and, let's be the real, the future Serie A champions) walked through last year's Europa League winners with 3-0 win on Wednesday, and a 5-0 aggregate triumph over two legs of this round-of-16 tie.

This is what Napoli has been doing all season long in both Italy and the Champions League, and it has all started with Osimhen. The 24-year-old, who came over in the COVID-19 summer of 2020 for the very-not-COVID price of €70 million, has been on a tear this season, scoring 19 goals in Italian league play and, with his brace on Wednesday, four goals in the Champions League. His success has carried over to the team as a whole: Napoli has scored the most goals in the tournament through the group stage and the round of 16, with the club's 25 topping Benfica's 23 and Manchester City's 22.

Frankfurt was overwhelmed coming into Wednesday's tie, thanks to a one-sided 2-0 whooping in Germany back on Feb. 21. Just like in that game, Osimhen opened the scoring in Italy on Wednesday, latching on to a looping cross from Matteo Politano and delivering a similarly looping header over the hands of outstretch Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp in first half stoppage time:

The tie was probably over before that goal, and almost certainly after it, but that didn't slow down the Napoli machine that is averaging just over three goals per contest in the Champions League this season. After a quick 15-minute reprieve for Frankfurt, Osimhen got on the end of another cross, this time of the low variety from Giovanni Di Lorenzo, to double Wednesday's lead and definitively stamp out the match-up as a whole in the 53rd:

Yes, I see Khvicha Kvaratskhelia's pass to kick-start that move, and yes, he too has been incredible this season, perhaps even more than Osimhen (the Georgian now has 13 assists to go along with 13 goals). This is not his day, though, and this is not his blog.

Instead, those two Osimhen goals were numbers 50 and 51 for the Nigerian at Napoli, in just under three full seasons of play. He's scored almost a third of Napoli's goals in Serie A so far this campaign—19 out of a league-leading 60—and though the goals are more spread around in the Champions League, he's still tied for the team lead there. This is all with Osimhen missing a month of time earlier in the season with an arm injury; one can only imagine what his stats would look like with another six games under his belt.

Well, actually, there's not much imagination needed: Napoli is a well-oiled machine with Osimhen leading its attack, and in a normal season, he would be the best and most prolific striker in Europe. He can settle for second there, behind Big Erling Haaland, and just like the Norwegian was last summer, Osimhen should be on the move to one of the bigger clubs in the world sooner rather than later. Manchester United will probably come knocking this summer, just to give one example, as will Chelsea, and really, any other team who both needs a striker and can afford to drop €100 million-plus on one. That's a big bet, but Osimhen is probably worth that and more for Napoli.

Wherever he does land in the transfer window is a problem for later, though; in the meantime, Osimhen and Napoli are going to continue to give opponents hell both domestically and in the Champions League. As the tournament narrows down to eight teams, Napoli has as good a shot as anyone to win the trophy and do a historic double. With this type of attack, and with this type of striker at the forefront, the Neopolitans have enough firepower to level any opposition.

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