Manchester United are on the hunt for a striker and Napoli’s Victor Osimhen remains at the top of the club’s shortlist.
Ahmed Walid of The Athletic has taken a look at why the Nigerian is in such high demand, and it is easy to see how the player would fit into Erik ten Hag’s system.
Osimhen has scored 19 goals in Serie A this season already and looked set to become the first African player to win the coveted Capocannoniere, awarded to Serie A’s top scorer.
And looking back through his goals, Walid earmarks Osimhen’s runs in behind defences alongside the centre half’s blind side as his ‘trademark.’
With the success of Marcus Rashford this season, United are wise to the benefits of having attackers playing on the shoulder. Ten Hag – throughout his managerial career – has always favoured an attacking approach that involves flooding the opposition penalty area with numbers.
That is why Rashford and Osimhen could combine to great effect for the Red Devils, with the excellent passing range of their midfield setting up opportunities against disorganised defences.
But supporters will also remember United’s struggles against deeper defences under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Runs in behind require space in behind.
Part of Rashford’s success this season has been down an improvement in his ball retention in tight areas, giving him the ability to carve out opportunities even with minimal space.
Fortunately, Osimhen too is not only effective against high lines, with the striker possessing a predatory instinct in the penalty area that makes him excellent at feeding off crosses. That would make him fairly unique in the Man United squad, since none of the attackers available to Ten Hag ae particularly good in the air.
At 185cm and with a mightily impressive leap, he has the beating of most centre backs in Serie A. He is also a natural goalscorer who, to borrow a phrase from Solskjaer, would ‘break his nose to score a goal.’
A big part of Osimhen’s game is his positioning. He is constantly hard at work outsmarting defenders and getting into areas where he can’t be seen. Blind-side runs have already been mentioned with regard to his runs beyond defensive lines, but he also does this in the box.
The Serie A sharpshooter regularly adjusts his runs in order to position himself at the back post where he can go unnoticed until the decisive moment.
Those factors make him excellent at fashioning chances, but Osimhen is also fantastic at converting them. He has shown a capacity for finishing at incredibly tight angles while he regularly manages to get his headers into the corners of the net.
Aside from the goals he would no doubt bring, his tactical awareness and physical profile would be a huge benefit to United. Napoli regularly use Osimhen as an outlet and he is a valuable weapon when it comes to beating a press with a direct pass.
All in all, it is easy to see why Manchester United would want Victor Osimhen, and with him leading the line next season, the Red Devils could be set for plenty of success.
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