Serie A side Napoli today announced the signing of Nigerian international forward Victor Osimhen from Lille and he becomes the most expensive African player of all time, costing the Italians €81.3m including bonuses, according to L’Équipe and reiterated by sources contacted by Get French Football News.
Osimhen earned €80k a month in France and now will receive between €4m to €5.5m a year net excluding bonuses. The base fee is €71.2m plus €10.1m in guaranteed bonuses. Their initial formal offer which arrived to Lille on 20th July at 10:00 in the morning after the player had undergone a medical with Napoli in Rome two days earlier. The eventual total fee will take the deal to €81.3m, which eclipses the sale of Nicolas Pépé to Arsenal last summer for €80m.
The 21-year-old’s move will also see his former club, Belgian side Charleroi, receive around €7m owing to a sell-on percentage fee that was capped at this amount. This deal has been in the offing for weeks, but was slowed following Osimhen’s decision to dump his previous agent, Jean-Gérard Benoît Czajka, in favour of William D’Avila, after receiving recommendations from Emmanuel Dennis at Club Brugge. D’Avila works in Italy with Andrea D’Amico.
Following this change, on 13th July, the two clubs had to start negotiations again, notably on the intended contractual clauses, the contract with the kit sponsors, fiscal regulations and the sequestering of the agent commissions at €5m, after the player’s previous agents threatened Napoli with legal action.
When Ligue 1 was called off, on 30th April, Osimhen asked Lille if he could travel to Nigeria to see his sick father – the club politely declined, under the grounds that the pandemic could represent danger to their player. Osimhen’s father then passed away and the player was apologised to by the club, who paid for a private jet to take him to the African country.
Osimhen was absolutely crushed by the events that unfolded – he listened to his father about everything. Now, at the age of 21, he is expected to be the head of the family. But he faced it, delaying his return to Europe twice to spend the time necessary with his loved ones. After a long time thinking about it, Osimhen went for Napoli, despite initially ruling it out when speaking to Lille in March, because of his fears over racism in Italy. A call with Kalidou Koulibaly is what reassured him that this should not be seen as an issue.
Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso was desperate to sign the player, even offering to take a salary cut in order to make the move happen. At the same time, the Italian club was busy trying to incite a bidding war for Koulibaly as they seek to earn as much as possible from his transfer fee so that they can free up a non-EU slot.
They tried to include Gabriel in a deal with Osimhen and send winger Adam Ounas the other way in order to bring the price down – Lille rejected this. They will sell their 35-year-old goalkeeper Orestis Karenzis (35) for an inflated €4m to €5m price instead when the Italian market opens on 1st September.
Osimhen spoke with both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United) and Jürgen Klopp (Liverpool) on the phone – both failed to change Osimhen’s mind. As reported by RMC, the whole deal is payable over 5 years.