Victor Osimhen‘s struggles on the field this weekend were offset by some good news off it this weekend — at least for Napoli fans — as it appears the Super Eagles hitman is closer than ever to putting pen to paper on a new contract with the Serie A heavyweights.
Elsewhere, another Nigerian starlet — Luca Koleosho — was one of the stars of Burnley‘s dismantling of Sheffield United, while Victor Boniface‘s grandmother went viral as he extended his magnificent Bundesliga form against Borussia Dortmund.
How Napoli fans have begun to crave the return of a fully-fit Osimhen in recent weeks, with the Partenopei winning just one of their last four matches in all competitions before Sunday’s visit of Internazionale.
This was the Nigerian’s first start for Napoli since suffering a hamstring injury during the mid-October international break, and while the Partenopei initially fared well in his absence, their Champions League draw with Union Berlin and home league loss against Empoli last month made it clear just how much the hitman was missed.
After substitute cameos in the 2-1 victory at Atalanta — with Osimhen setting up Eljif Elmas‘s late winner — and the UCL defeat by Real Madrid in midweek, the striker finally made his return to Rudi Garcia’s starting XI for Inter’s arrival this weekend. The outing didn’t go to plan, with Napoli thoroughly outclassed in a 3-0 loss that extends their winless run at the Stadio Diego Maradona to five matches in all competitions.
In the coming weeks, as the ex-LOSC Lille man returns to full fitness, expect him to rediscover the sharpness that characterised his performances last season, not to mention the sublime interplay with the likes of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
And how Napoli need him back at his best, with their latest defeat leaving them a whopping 11 points off the league leaders after 14 matches. It’s already a significant gulf for the reigning champions to overcome, but the good news for Napoli fans is that it’s looking increasingly likely that they’ll be able to call on Osimhen for the foreseeable future, as talk of a contract extension has intensified in recent days.
Albeit linked with a move to any number of European royalty — Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United are among those reportedly keen on the attacker — Osimhen had appeared primed to become *the* hot talking point of the January transfer window.
However, according to Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, the forward is closing in on signing a new deal at the club, extending his current contract, which runs until 2025: “For Osimhen, we are at the signing stage, which has been pending since the summer.”
His words also suggest that Osimhen’s strained relationship with the club could be on the mend, with the attacker making no secret of his displeasure after Napoli appeared to post a video mocking the attacker on their TikTok channel following a penalty miss in September.
Speaking of viral videos…
In Germany, news of Victor Boniface finding the net has become somewhat repetitive this campaign, with the attacker already hitting eight in his first 13 Bundesliga games.
His late equaliser against Borussia Dortmund this weekend took him up to joint-fifth in the league’s scoring charts, even if he remains ten behind Harry Kane — the division’s outstanding player.
Scoring goals for Boniface may be somewhat commonplace, but even he must have been surprised to have been upstaged by his grandmother this weekend! During the match, moments after the Super Eagle had levelled things in the 79th minute, Mama Boniface was captured on camera leading the chants for her grandson, and joining in a serenade for her offspring along with Bayer supporters.
🇳🇬 Boniface has one proud grandmother. Beautiful scenes. ❤️pic.twitter.com/2MCpH6iGlI
— EuroFoot (@eurofootcom) December 3, 2023
The festive atmosphere has been seen before this campaign — Leverkusen remain unbeaten this season — but few supporters who have come to witness Xabi Alonso’s side in action have enjoyed themselves quite as much as Boniface’s granny!
Even the most hardened football fans can surely appreciate the pure joy and pride on her face at seeing her grandson putting BVB to the sword in such style. Mama Boniface was later treated to a meet-and-greet of the Leverkusen squad, clearly having been impressed with what she’d seen from Victor and his fellow league leaders.
A four-nation teen sensation
In the Premier League this weekend, Luca Koleosho became the latest starlet of African origin to register his first goal in the top flight, with the youngster playing his part in Burnley’s 5-0 thumping of hapless Sheffield United.
Born in Conneticut, Koleosho was a £2.6 million summer recruit from Espanyol, and has represented both the United States and Italy at youth level. He’s also eligible for Canada and Nigeria via his mother and father respectively, and don’t be surprised if — with performances like this — the NFF start coming under pressure to make enquiries about the prospect’s future loyalties.
Koleosho had already stood out as one of the most exciting elements of Vincent Kompany’s vibrant Clarets side before this weekend, but this was the occasion when he finally got on the scoresheet, demonstrating that there’s certainly an end product to match the teenager’s promise.
He glittered on the opening weekend of the season — when Kompany thrust him into the starting XI for the showdown with reigning champions Manchester City — and since then has endeared himself to supporters with his bold, direct running, competence on the counter-attack, and capacity to drive into dangerous areas.
He represents a rare weapon for Burnley to trouble and unsettle even the division’s sternest backlines, and already hinted at his ability to change the complexion of a contest when he won a penalty in the 2-1 home defeat by West Ham United last month.
Against the Blades, he both hit the woodwork and opened his account; driving low beyond Wes Foderingham after being found in space, in the box, by Zeki Amdouni, who also netted as ten-men United collapsed in the second half. In contrast to the majority of Koleosho’s contribution in the top flight, it was evidence of a killer instinct that hasn’t always been evident in the wonderkid’s game.
Kudus’s Ghana teammate Antonie Semenyo and Dominic Solanke were on the scoresheet for Bournemouth as they twice took the lead against Aston Villa at home, only for Unai Emery’s side to twice level affairs.