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Arsenal Transfer Rumor: Victor Osimhen

Don’t think this one is going to happen. But I’d be thrilled to be wrong.

SSC Napoli v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Arsenal have (once again) been linked with a transfer for Napoli’s Victor Osimhen. The Nigerian striker has scored 16 goals in 26 matches in all competitions this season after notching 10 goals in 24 Serie A appearances in his first season with the Italian side. At 23 years old, he fits with the rebuilding project at the Emirates, too.

It’s no secret Mikel Arteta and the Gunners will be in the market for a striker this summer with Alexandre Lacazette likely leaving the club. If he ends up signing a short-term contract, it’s hopefully to be a super-sub, squad player, and veteran leader in the dressing room. Eddie Nketiah looks to be out the door as well, not that he was the answer at striker, either. Arsenal cannot afford to go into next season with a question mark up top. The club needs a top-level proven player with the right age profile, who is going to score 15+ goals.

While Osimhen fits that profile, I don’t think it’s likely Arsenal buy him, mostly because of price. Napoli paid Lille something in the neighborhood of £67M two seasons ago. They’ve reportedly slapped a £84M price tag on him. Mikel Arteta has already said he’s looking to bring in at least four players this summer. Couple that with last summer’s business capping out at £50M for Ben White, I don’t think the Gunners are in a position to spend £80M on one player. That may change should the club qualify for the Champions League, but even then, there are similar players available for less (hello £65M for Darwin Nunez).

My read on Arsenal’s plans for the summer could be wrong. Mikel Arteta might feel that his side is an elite striker away from being a contender. Osimhen is that — an elite striker. The inimitable Scott Willis (@oh_that_crab - if you aren’t following by now, what the heck are you doing?!) pulled some stats and graphics on him.

A quick glance tells me that he is quite good. And having caught a few Napoli matches this season, you don’t really need advanced stats and pretty charts to tell you that, but they do help. Osimhen stands out on the pitch. His willingness to dribble at defenders coupled with his attacking instincts gets him into fantastic positions to take dangerous shots, and he’s not shy about having a crack at goal.

He doesn’t do everything, however. As you can see in the tweet thread, Osimhen is not much of a passer. He doesn’t link up the play. In some ways, he’s similar to peak Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Attacking moves end with him. He gets himself into great positions and takes shots.

When Arsenal were playing really well (before the injuries and the 2-match wobble), they were creating plenty of chances, like title-winning level xG difference numbers. But even then, they were struggling to finish chances. Arsenal are one of the worst teams in the Premier League in terms of actual goals compared to expected goals. Osimhen would change that. He would put the ball in the back of the net.

Here’s a fun anecdote: he recently admitted that Arsene Wenger tried to recruit him to Arsenal in 2015 after the U-17 World Cup. Another fantastic player to add to the “Arsene Wenger wanted him at Arsenal XI” which at this point would probably be the greatest squad ever assembled.

The silly season never sleeps, does it?