NAPOLI coach Luciano Spalletti has likened Victor Osimhen to the late Argentine legend Diego Maradona, ahead of their Europa League second leg knock-out round play-offs clash against Barcelona.
The Partenopei played a 1-1 draw with the Blaugrana in Camp Nou last week.
The 23-year-old Nigerian, who is Napoliâ€™s top scorer this season with 11 goals in 20 games this term, according to Spalletti, possesses an â€œanimal furyâ€ in key moments during games, which he said Maradona had during his playing days.
The Italian coach added that Osimhen had outstanding characteristics and extra qualities that were not easy to find in other players.
â€œOsimhen hasnâ€™t suffered any further problem to his knee so he starts tomorrow (today) against Barcelona,â€ Spalletti said ahead of the game
â€œWith that header against Cagliari, he (Osimhen) proved to have a sort of animal fury which is much-needed in key moments. Maradona had the same thing and somebody else should have it in our team.
â€œYou can see Osimhen has it when he faces his opponents. He has outstanding characteristics and some extra qualities that are not easy to find in other players.â€
Napoli full-back Giovanni Di Lorenzo also believes Osimhen needs more support if the Partenopei are to stand a chance of winning against their more illustrious opponents.
â€œWe must try to accompany him (Osimhen) more as a team. It is true that in the first leg, as I said before, we suffered a bit from their dribble. If we want to go through, we have to win and be proactive. We need to get Osimhen some more playable balls.â€
So far this season, the former Lille star has scored a goal in every 156 minutes and his goals have also brought Napoli 11 points out of 54 in Serie A, which is 20 per cent of their total tally in the league.
The Nigerian will once again play with a protective mask against Barcelona.
Napoli were lucky to collect a 1-1 draw against Cagliari on Monday, picking one point from the Sardegna Arena, thanks to a late equaliser by Osimhen.
â€¦Napoli star tipped to shatter Barca
AS NAPOLI prepare to face Barcelona in the second leg of their Europa League knock-out round play-offs round, Italian website Football Italia believes Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen can help the Partenopei advance to the next round of the competition, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
The 23-year-old Nigeria international, who has scored seven goals in 16 Serie A and four in the Europa League this term, is tipped to cause danger to the Blaugrana defence, thanks to his pace and physical skills.
The website believes Barcelona defenders, who are not too fast, will struggle to deal with Osimhen in the game billed for the Stadio Maradona, where both teams will need to outscore themselves to qualify for the Round of 16.
They also believe the Nigerian is becoming more consistent for Napoli this season, although injuries had affected him during his two-year spell at the Stadio Maradona.
In Napoliâ€™s last game, the former Lille striker came off the substituteâ€™s bench to rescue a point for his side in the 1-1 draw against Cagliari on Monday.
Meanwhile, the former Lille forward will hope to add to his four-goal tally in the Europa League when Napoli host the Spanish giants at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Osimhen ended his wait for a Europa League goal with a brace as Napoli settled for a 2-2 draw against Leicester City in their first Group C game back in September 2021.
He got this third in the Parthenopeansâ€™ 3-2 defeat to Spartak Moscow before adding to his tally as the Italian outfit returned to winning ways following a 3-0 thrashing of Legia Warszawa.
Osimhen was, however, fit to face the Spanish giants in the first leg of the round of 16 last week but was unable to add to his four-goal tally as the game ended 1-1.
He will however have the chance to do so as they host Barcelona in Italy today.