Premier League • England

Arsenal refusing to match demands for Serie A striker who ‘will go to English team’

Harry De Cosemo
Victor Osimhen, Arsenal

Victor Osimhen has been heavily linked with Arsenal

Arsenal’s need for a striker has been well documented but they are unwilling to match the release clause for one of their top targets.

The Gunners were criticised for often not playing with an out and out striker for much of last season, choosing against playing Gabriel Jesus down the middle and instead opting for Kai Havertz.

The German operated more as a false nine and drew criticism from some fans when he joined from Chelsea in a £65m deal last summer, and during his early performances. But he ended the campaign with 13 goals and seven assists in 37 games as Arsenal ran Manchester City close for the Premier League title.

But links with a striker haven’t disappeared. One very interesting possible target is Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, who has long been linked with a departure from the Italian club. The new contract he signed, which runs until 2026, reportedly contains a €130million (£110.5m) release clause. Arsenal, though, are unwilling to match it, and reports suggest Napoli are struggling to find a buyer.

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Osimhen’s quality and standing as one of the best centre-forwards in the world has been proven over a number of years. Since joining Napoli in 2020 from Lille, the 25-year-old has hit double figures every year in Serie A, peaking at 26 league goals on the way to helping the club win the league title for the first time since 1990 and the days of Diego Maradona.

He scored 15 goals last season but couldn’t stop Napoli dropping to 10th. They’ve since hired former Tottenham and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte as their new coach.

Napoli knew Osimhen would leave ‘last summer’

Napoli are preparing to lose the Nigerian this summer, as per quotes from president Aurelio De Laurentiis in January.

“We knew that since last summer,” De Laurentiis told reporters. “That’s why the contract negotiations were so drawn out and amicable… but we knew perfectly well that he would go Real Madrid, to PSG or to a English team.”

Osimhen. though, wasn’t as committed to that when he was speaking to CBS Sports earlier this season, after penning his new deal in December.

“I’m with Napoli, I signed a new contract. I’m enjoying my time there. I think I’ve already made up my mind, I already know what I want to do in my career,” Osimhen said.

“Since I’ve started, I’ve been the one making my own decisions and everything is working out well for me. I already know the next step I want to take, so for now I just want to finish the season strong.”

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