Victor Osimhen was set to reject an offer from Italian Serie A giants Juventus even if it was worth €10 million-per-year due to his perception that footballers are prone to facing racial abuse from football fans in the Italian league.
Osimhen’s former agent, Jean-Gerard Benoit Czajka, who disclosed this in an interview on Wednesday, said such a perception almost prevented him from considering an offer from Napoli. Benoit revealed that this perception persistent until he had to convince the 21-year-old Lille and Nigeria forward to visit Italy so that he could see things for himself.
During their visit, Osimhen had the first-hand opportunity to meet with Napoli’s Sporting Director, Cristiano Giuntoli, Napoli’s president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, and Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly. According to the former agent, the conversations Osimhen had with Napoli‘s president and Kalidou Koulibaly convinced the Nigerian to settle for Napoli amidst interests from other top clubs across Europe.
Benoit said: “Victor did not want to go to Italy. From the start, he has been stuck on the idea of playing in Serie A,” Benoit Czajka told France Football.
“He told me that racism issues scared him and that he didn’t feel it. He even told me in March-April: “I don’t want to go and play in Italy even if it’s for Juventus at €10 million net per year”.
“I told Victor that before having such strong ideas, that he had to travel to see for himself, meet people, talk with players who are confronted with racism, etc.
“Something that we finally did on July 1, 2 and 3 where we met the coach, the sports director, as well as the president De Laurentiis who is a man with values and experience, and who seems to have convinced the player. Victor also spoke a lot with Kalidou Koulibaly and this was decisive in his choice for Napoli.”
Victor Osimhen joined Lille from RSC Charleroi on 1 August 2019 for just €14 million. Within the one season he spent with the club, the 21-year-old forward scored 18 goals and made 6 assists in 38 appearances. He ended the French Ligue 1 season in March as the 5th top scorer with 13 league goals which was enough to help Lille to finish on the 4th spot on the league table.
Due to his performance, he has attracted interest from top clubs like Arsenal, Liverpool, and a host of others.
Victor Osimhen move to Napoli: the saga so far
Osimhen is expected to be a Napoli player in the coming days as the Italian club is ready to pay Lille between 50 to 80 Euros for the services of the Nigerian youngster. Despite that, the president of Lille Gerard Lopez, admitted a few days ago that the club is still receiving offers from top clubs for the services of Osimhen.
“The player has made his choice, Napoli”, Lopez said. “Its advanced, details are missing. It will be announced when the time comes. As it’s not yet official, we continue to have other offers. I want to keep good relations with these clubs too.
“So, I manage their expectations. It is a transfer that is not linear. The market in France opened before the closing [until August 15]. In Italy, the transfer window opens in September. So, you need a multitude of contracts to cover all eventualities.”
According to Victor Osimhen’s former agent, the negotiations involving Osimhen’s representatives, Lille and Napoli have been on since March. The coronavirus pandemic affected the smooth flow of the negotiations and collapsed early July when Osimhen decided to sack Benoit from his management team.
The negotiations had to start from the beginning according to Lille’s president which did not go down well with Lille and Napoli. On July 13, Victor Osimhen took to Twitter and tweeted, “10 days ultimatum”, with two emojis that depicted tears of joy.
10 days ultimatum 😂😂— victor osimhen (@victorosimhen9) July 13, 2020