Manchester United’s pursuit of Napoli striker Victor Osimhen has caught the attention of many football fans, with the possibility of the Nigerian striker joining Premier League sides Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle, Tottenham, and Manchester United in next summer’s transfer window.
If Osimhen makes the move to Manchester United, there is a chance for an impending rivalry with Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, who joined the club in 2022. The potential of the two strikers vying for the Golden Boot in the Premier League next season could define the Manchester Derby and reignite a rivalry similar to the famous rivalry between Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy in the early 2000s.
Comparing Osimhen and Haaland’s goal tally since turning pro
Osimhen has been a consistent scorer since his professional debut in 2017. He has played for several clubs such as Wolfsburg, Charleroi, Lille, and currently, Napoli. In the 2022/23 season, Osimhen has scored 21 goals and made five assists in 23 Serie A appearances.
Haaland, on the other hand, has been a revelation since turning pro in 2016. He has played for Bryne FK, Molde, Red Bull Salzburg, Borussia Dortmund, and currently, Manchester City. In the 2022/23 season, Haaland has scored 28 goals and made seven assists in 26 Premier League appearances.
Osimhen vs Haaland: Expert opinions
But while Haaland and Osimhen have both shown immense potential, they have very different playing styles and skillsets. Haaland is a classic center-forward, blessed with lightning pace, incredible strength, and a clinical eye for goal. His physical attributes make him a nightmare for defenders to deal with, and his ability to create chances out of nothing has been a key factor in City’s success this season.
Osimhen, on the other hand, is a more versatile striker, capable of playing in a variety of positions and adapting to different tactical setups. His dribbling skills, agility, and close control make him a difficult player to mark, and his ability to create space for himself and his teammates is one of his biggest assets. His work rate off the ball is also commendable, with his relentless pressing and defensive contributions making him a well-rounded player.
When it comes to comparing Osimhen with Haaland, opinions are divided. While some believe that the Norwegian striker is the better of the two, others argue that Osimhen has the potential to surpass Haaland in the future. Former Germany and Liverpool striker Dietmar Hamann believes Osimhen is a “better all-round player” than Haaland.
“Haaland is probably the best centre-forward in Europe at the moment – if you look at his goalscoring record,” the German pundit explained.
“You would also have to mention Osimhen in this conversation who is a brilliant player. For me, Osimhen is probably a better all-round player than Haaland right now and links up play better.
“Haaland is a very direct player and I was cautious whether he really fits into that city team. He may prove me wrong at the moment, if you look at his goalscoring and stats, but they could still be trophyless at the end of the season.
“I think he’s a player every top club should go for, because for me at the moment, Osimhen is the best centre-forward in the world,” Hamann said as quoted by Metro UK.
Former Napoli striker who won the Scudetto with club in the 1989/90 season, Careca, also highlighted some similarities between both strikers.
Speaking to Italian paper It Mattino, Careca said, “Osimhen has unique characteristics. A bit like Haaland, the City ace, who looks heavy but instead has extraordinary agility. Osimhen is doing great things after overcoming many physical problems and hasn’t yet shown his best: the margins for improvement are considerable.
“Meanwhile, his regularity is striking: he always scores. He has incredible willpower and then it’s as if the ball was looking for him and not vice versa. He positions himself very well, he is always in the heart of the action,” he added.
It’s clear that Osimhen has the potential to be a great addition to United’s squad, but can he propel them to greater heights? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, if he does end up signing for United, it will be interesting to see how he fares against Haaland in the Manchester Derby.
What Osimhen would bring to Manchester United
If Osimhen were to join Manchester United, he would bring a wealth of experience and versatility to the team. He can play as a central striker, on either wing, or even as a second striker. He is also known for his excellent movement off the ball, making him an ideal fit for Manchester United’s style of play under coach Erik ten Hag.
Former United forward and Osimhen’s countryman Odion Ighalo believes the Napoli striker will complement Marcus Rashford if he eventually joins the Red Devils.
“I think it’s a good fit because he is a young boy, he runs and he can score goals,” Ighalo told Sky Sports. “Having Victor Osimhen and Rashford in the top at Manchester United will cause any defender panic, because they are two fast players and they are goal scorers.
“I think he will fit in Manchester United so well. If he asked for my opinion and what should he do, I would advise him to join Man United because, for me, they are the biggest club.
“He is a goal scorer, he never stops. Osimhen is like an ant. He is a striker that doesn’t give defenders a chance to rest; he is always going to be on you, he is always going to press you and he isn’t afraid.
“He is somebody who has the heart of a lion. He will try and put his head on any ball to try and score, I know that. He takes risks and I think it would be a feat for Man United, just in the same way this Argentina defender [Lisandro Martinez] – The Butcher… you see that guy going for every ball. He is similar to Osimhen.”
Ighalo also compared Osimhen with former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, likening the former’s hunger to succeed to that of the Ivorian.
“I think Didier Drogba,” Ighalo added, giving his verdict on who Osimhen reminds him of. “I remember Didier Drogba, the way he scored goals, the way he fought, the way he ran, the way he put his head and leg on every ball. He just wanted to score goals.”
Former Red Devils striker Andy Cole believes that the Nigerian has the potential to make a huge impact at Old Trafford, asking his former team to pick him ahead of Spurs Striker Harry Kane – another player United are eyeing.
He told King Casino Bonus, “Harry Kane is 30 years old next season and Victor Osimhen is currently 24 years old and he’s already done a lot at his age too. Italian football is difficult but there will be no doubts that he can adapt to the Premier League.
“If Manchester United want to pay £100m for a 24-year-old or a 30-year-old, you have to look at it in the long term. The only value Manchester United can get from Kane is if he can win them the Premier League.
“Meanwhile, Osimhen is near the same age as Erling Haaland and look what he’s doing at the moment. If Haaland stays at Manchester City for another four years, he’ll still be worth £100m or more, so it depends on what Manchester United are looking for.”
Arsenal legend Henry however believes Kane will be a better fit for United.
Speaking on CBS Sports, Henry said, “Ah, personally you know what – because, sorry it’s personal and sorry Napoli fans but we are talking about something that can happen or not, but again because of the Premier League and he knows the Premier League, I am United, I go Kane.
“That doesn’t mean Osimhen isn’t a good player or whatever, it has nothing to do with that, I think Osimhen can adapt in any league but if I am United I would look at ‘okay, this guy [Kane] doesn’t need to adapt to anything. He has a way of dropping that can allow Marcus Rashford to run in behind him when he drops, Kane can play anywhere also.”
Despite the differing opinions, there is no denying that Osimhen has the potential to make a big impact at Manchester United. His ability to score goals from a variety of positions, coupled with his pace and power, could provide the Red Devils with a much-needed boost in attack.
Reminesce of Henry-Nistelrooy striker rivalry
If Osimhen does join United, it could set up a tantalizing battle between him and Haaland for the Premier League golden boot, with both players likely to be key figures for their respective clubs. It could also reignite the Manchester Derby rivalry, which has historically been one of the most fiercely contested fixtures in English football.
Henry and former Manchester United and Netherlands striker Ruud van Nistelrooy were once involved in a memorable rivalry in the Premier League. Henry and van Nistelrooy both scored an impressive number of goals during their time in England and were often compared to each other. If Osimhen does move to Manchester United and rivals Haaland for goals, it could potentially lead to a similar rivalry between the two strikers.
The Henry-Nistelrooy rivalry of the early 2000s is a testament to how much a top-class striker can impact a team’s fortunes and the league as a whole. With Haaland and Osimhen poised to take center stage in the next chapter of this rivalry, the Premier League could be in for a treat.
Manchester City’s response to the potential rivalry
Manchester City, on the other hand, have no intention of letting their star striker, Haaland, go. City’s manager, Pep Guardiola, has praised Haaland’s contribution to the team, saying, “Erling is one of the best young players in the world. He’s a goalscorer, but he also has an incredible work ethic and team spirit.”
City will be hoping that Haaland can continue his excellent form and lead the team to more success next season. With both Haaland and Osimhen hitting top form, the upcoming Premier League season is sure to be an exciting one, with the potential for a new rivalry to emerge between the two strikers.
The arrival of Osimhen to Manchester United would also add to the already fierce rivalry between the Red Devils and Manchester City. With Haaland already on the books at City, a potential goalscoring battle between the two strikers would only add more fuel to the fire.
Speaking to reporters, Osimhen expressed his excitement about the possibility of playing in the Premier League, saying, “A lot of people worldwide consider the Premier League as the best and the strongest league but now I’m in one of the best leagues in the world which is the Italian Serie A.
“I’m working so hard to make sure that I achieve my dream of playing in the Premier League some day but like I said, it’s a process and I just want to keep on this momentum and continue to do well”
But would Osimhen be the right fit for Manchester United? Under new coach Erik ten Hag, United have been playing a high-pressing, possession-based style of football, which requires quick, agile forwards who can make intelligent runs and create scoring opportunities. Osimhen’s speed, strength, and intelligent movement make him an ideal candidate for this style of play.
Ultimately, only time will tell whether Osimhen can live up to the hype and become a top goalscorer in the Premier League. But with his talent, work ethic, and determination, he certainly has the potential to become a star for Manchester United and a worthy rival to Haaland and other top strikers in the league.