Lille unleashed Eden Hazard onto the world. They helped develop Nicolas Pépé and it was while with Les Dogues that Rafael Leão started to deliver on the hype surrounding him. When it comes to developing young, attacking talent, the Ligue 1 side know what they’re doing.
They’ve struck gold once again.
Despite losing Leão and Pépé in the summer, Lille have impressed in Ligue 1 this term. Currently, in fourth position and just seven points behind second-place Marseille, Christophe Galtier’s men are showing that last season was no fluke. The feeling was this would be a transitional season for the club after a busy summer transfer window. But nine wins from 18 matches suggests otherwise.
And the star of the show happens to be one of the players signed to fill the void in the attack: Victor Osimhen.
The Lille No.7 has notched 13 times in the French top-flight and he scored twice in the Champions League. He’s also chipped in with four assists to take his total goal involvement tally to 17 from 27 appearances in the French top-flight.
According to Sky Sports, a host of Premier League clubs are keeping tabs on the Nigeria international. Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are all rumoured to be interested in the forward. But Le10Sport have revealed Manchester United have made the 21-year-old a priority for when the transfer window reopens.
The Red Devils believe the Lille No.7 has “all the qualities” to succeed in the Premier League. But what is he all about as a player, and why are so many teams seemingly eager to add him to their ranks?
By no means is Osimhen a pure poacher. His heatmap, shown above, highlights the fact he gets on the ball throughout the final third. On a per 90 basis, the 21-year-old is averaging just 29 touches but of those 5.86 are coming in the opposition’s penalty box. For a bit more context, 20 per cent of his touches are in the area. More impressively, 11 per cent of his touches are shots. The youngster doesn’t need need to be heavily involved to be dangerous – a trait that will certainly appeal to interested clubs.
His output appears to be sustainable. Osimhen has averaged 0.51 goals from an expected goals average of 0.52 and a post-shot expected goals average of 0.48. After initially impressing in Ligue 1, many assumed his form would tail off but the numbers suggest there’s no reason for that to happen. If anything, his output will likely increase if he’s playing alongside better team-mates.
His shot map is another reason teams will be watching him closely. At a young age, players can lack patience and the experience required to make smart decisions on a consistent basis.
Yet the Lille forward has only a handful of shots from outside the penalty area this season, showing he’s intelligent enough to know that the likelihood of him scoring increases if he takes an effort closer to goal.
His shot placement map will be even more encouraging for interested clubs. Osimhen isn’t just looking to test the goalkeeper, he’s looking to hit the corners whenever possible. So far this season, 21 of his shots have been either side of the centre of goal and 14 of those have been bottom corner efforts. It’s no coincidence that nine of his goals have been scored in those areas.
He’s passed the Ligue 1 test. To keep progressing, Osimhen needs to move onto bigger and better things. Linking up with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes could be a good place to start and it’ll be a lot of fun to watch for United supporters.