Osimhen: V for Victor-y
Drogba, Adebayor, Aubameyang... they all honed their goal-getting talents in the French top flight, and LOSC look to have unearthed the next African striker to take European football by storm in Victor Osimhen.
There must be something in the air in northern France that just suits Nigerians. On the face of it, the cold, cloudy Channel coast would seem unappealing for most Europeans, never mind an African. But John Utaka was a big hit at Lens, while up the road at Lille, Victor Enyeama and Peter Odeminwingie both enjoyed success. Victor Osimhen now looks set to continue the tradition.
The 20-year-old certainly announced his arrival in France with a bang. Two goals on his Ligue 1 Conforama debut were not only enough to give new club LOSC a victory over FC Nantes on the opening day of the season, but they also marked him out as one to watch this season.
Back story: Victor James Osimhen was born in the Nigeria megalopolis of Lagos just before the turn of the year in 1998, and made his first steps in the game on its busy streets before his potential was spotted by the Ultimate Strikers Academy.
Following a starring role in Nigeria's 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup triumph - a tournament in which he finished top scorer - Osimhen joined German side VfL Wolfsburg in January 2017.
"I learnt a lot in terms of football and life at Wolfsburg because I was surrounded by good people," he said of his spell at the Bundesliga outfit, for whom he made only a handful of league appearances. "The period I spent in Wolfsburg has really shaped me into the kind of striker that I wanted to be."
The lessons learned in the city Volkswagen built were put to great use on loan at Charleroi in the 2018-19 season with Osimhen netting 20 goals in 36 appearances. Unsurprisingly, the Belgian club exercised their right to buy Osimhen outright before selling him on to Lille.
"We're delighted to have signed him," said Les Dogues' CEO Marc Ingla. "He's very powerful, and has a great goal-scoring ability."
Style of play: His 1.85m/6'1" frame would suggest a physical forward, but Osimhen has silk to go with the steel, meaning he can hold the ball up as well as beat his man. He has pace too - as his first goal against Nantes showed - and has a proven nose for goal that will only become more acute.
Current campaign: Osimhen hit the ground running with his performance against Nantes, picking up from where he left off just across the border in Charleroi.
What you didn't know: Osimhen's WhatsApp profile picture is a message from a fan that reads, 'Focus-Hustle-Believe,' words he needed to live by during difficult times at Wolfsburg.
"I've not met this great fan of mine but he perfectly understood all of what I went through at Wolfsburg," he explained. "He kept urging me to work hard and asked me to put the picture at a place I can see every day."
Craziest goal: "I think my first goal for Charleroi against Waasland-Beveren was special,” said Osimhen. You could say that… He latched onto a cross, nutmegged an advancing defender and then found the net with the cutest of backheel finishes. All that on his Charleroi debut. "It's a great feeling for me to get my first league goal in Europe after two years," said the young striker at the time.
What he said: "Lille is a very good club that has a high quality project and attracts players with great class, even more so than ever before in recent years. Great Nigerian players have also played here. I want to commit myself to following in their footsteps. I am therefore very happy to be here and to join this great club called Lille. I am still very young, I am learning and I think that this project suits me perfectly to continue to progress."
What they said: "We have an exciting crop of young players and I think Victor Osimhen would be useful in the future after he moved from Wolfsburg to Charleroi. The coach of Charleroi is my personal friend and I told him about the quality of Victor."
- Gernot Rohr, Nigeria coach, and ex-Girondins de Bordeaux, OGC Nice and FC Nantes boss
"At the age of 18, Victor already has a large presence in our attack. He is good going forward and for his size is very fast. However, he has to improve his physical strength and get used to playing in Germany. We want to help him take this step."
- Ex-Wolfsburg coach Valérien Ismaël