Talk around the Emirates suggests a potential exit of star striker duo, Alexander Lacazette, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Arsenal would then be back onto the market for another forward to lead the line. Looking to replace a majority of their goal hauls is a difficult task. Aubameyang so far this season has contributed to 47% of Arsenal’s goals. When looking across upcoming talents in Europe there are a few names that stand out. One is Victor Osimhen, the 20-year-old Nigerian currently playing in France for Lille.
What makes him a realistic and believable option is that Osimhen has been on Arsenal’s radar before. Following a record-breaking goal-scoring performance at the FIFA U17 World Cup. Barcelona and Arsenal both offered him positions at their clubs. He instead chose to go to Wolfsburg in Germany however as he wanted to regularly be involved in first-team football. Landing in Lille last summer he has burst into mainstream attention. In this scout report, we will explore the youngster’s game that is making him such an effective forward through tactical analysis and why Arsenal could once again make a move for him.
Danger inside the penalty area
Osimhen has scored 7 goals and assisted two in 11 starts for Lille this season. What makes him so prolific as a goal scorer is his off the ball movement. Similarly to Aubameyang, he’s able to create space for himself and intelligently get himself in goal scoring spaces. Calculated and clever, he is at home when he’s inside the box. Commonly benefiting from players out wide making chances. Whether if the opposing defence is settled in shape or transitioning he’s just as effective.
In the image below, the defender is running toward the goal anticipating the cross from wide to come across goal. As the defender looks toward the ball Osimhen intelligently makes a run in behind him out of view. Osmihen stops once he reaches the penalty spot creating space in-between him and the defender and gives him time to take a touch and unleash a shot onto goal when the ball reaches him.
Last season he had an xG of 0.55 per 90 minutes. Below is his shot map from this season. He’s scored five of his goals from the penalty area. Victor Osimhen also has taken 37 shots inside the penalty area. The majority of a club’s goals will come from the penalty area throughout a season. What we can take from this is that he can consistently get into these good positions. Getting into these positions will allow him to produce large goal tally across a season.
Combine his intelligent movements with the talented skillset the youngster possesses and you have someone with the potential to be a world-class striker. He always knows where the goal is even when he receives the ball with his back to goal he is able to quickly turn and make a shot. His finishes are lethal as he generates immense power on them. When he receives the ball all he thinks is “goal” as he consistently looks to generate a shot, it’s reminiscent of Harry Kane’s mentality in the attacking third. He takes 2.5 shots per 90 which is more than Aubemayang at 1.8.
Standing at 6’1 he offers an ariel threat as well which is something that could be considered missing from Arsenal’s current forward options. Scoring headers and also offering an outlet on longballs. Through analysis you can see Arsenal for numerous seasons now has struggled against teams that press high and have no option to go long to. Osimhen has 4.1 successful ariel duels per game and competed in 12 ariel duels per 90 last season.
Osimhen also offers speed in his game. This allows him to make effective runs in behind defenders punishing teams attempting to utilize a high defensive line. Below is a great example against Valencia in the Champions League. He starts well behind the two centre-backs and makes it onto the ball blasting past them and running through on goal. In a league like the Premier League where defenders are athletically some of the best in the world, this is an important quality.
Osimhen during possession always plays with his back to goal. Positioning himself on a CB, through his body positioning he can scan the majority of the field and the players around him. When Lille progresses the ball forward they can look for him as a reliable vertical passing option. He doesn’t hold onto the ball long, making quick layoffs to the nearest option. Wingers often come from wide, positioning themselves in between the defensive and midfield line and receive a pass from Osimhen. He has a reliable first touch which assists with this play greatly, making less unsuccessful touches than Roberto Firmino of Liverpool.
As you can see in the image below is a tactical analysis, a midfielder is looking for a vertical pass and Osimhen is open. The left-winger comes inside to receive the layoff and it creates a shot onto goal. For Arsenal this season we’ve seen the likes of Pepe and Saka struggle to connect in the attacking third. Osimhen as a point of attack could be a potential solution similarly to how Lille uses him in their attacking tactics.
Of course, the 20-year-old has a lot to develop and learn. Some of his passes can be under hit, having a 67% passing accuracy right now may cause concern for some. But there have been signs of him being able to consistently influence a game across 90 minutes. Below is a pass map against Toulouse where he attempted 22 passes in the game spread throughout the middle third. If this part of his game can develop he could offer dynamic passing solutions and sequences when he drops into midfield creating space for players around him.
Lacazette and Aubameyang will have to leave someday and even if it was this summer it simply wouldn’t be the end of the world. Through this tactical analysis of Osimhen, you can see why so many are excited about his future. Offering an interesting dimension to the team from a tactical and profile standpoint. The holdup play of Olivier Giroud while maintaining the lethal attacking play of Aubameyang.
Being 2o years-old of course he would need time to adjust and develop if he came to Arsenal. Transfermarkt has his price at £11 million. He would most certainly be worth more especially come the summer if he continues on his upward projection. Victor Osimhen having every tool necessary to become one of Europe’s top forwards would most certainly be a great addition to any club needing a striker in the next 2-3 transfer windows.