MANCHESTER menaces Erling Haaland and Marcus Rashford are the talk of the Premier League — but a star 1,500 miles away is causing a stir in Italy.
Nigeria hitman Victor Osimhen has scored 19 in 23 games for runaway Serie A leaders Napoli and has been compared to former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba by none other than old boss Jose Mourinho.
If the Blues have their way, Osimhen could follow in Drogba’s footsteps this summer should Todd Boehly prise him from stubborn Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis.
The new Chelsea owner is considering a £110million summer swoop, as revealed by SunSport earlier this month.
Nigeria hero and ex-Everton forward Daniel Amokachi reckons Lagos-born Osimhen is a blend of THREE legendary African strikers — not just Ivorian Drogba but also Liberia talisman George Weah and Nigeria star Rashidi Yekini.
The 1994 World Cup star told SunSport: “Osimhen is a reflection of Rashidi Yekini, Didier Drogba and George Weah.
“That’s what makes him different. All those players never gave less than 100 per cent.
“He’s the same. He’s strong, he shoots very good, he’s technically sound, he’s got speed. He’s the best No 9 in the world.”
Osimhen, 24, is spearheading Napoli’s charge to their first Scudetto since Diego Maradona inspired the 1990 title triumph.
He won Serie A’s player of the month for January — scoring an outrageous goal against Mourinho’s Roma — and could be Player of the Year.
But with long limbs and a spindly frame, he looks more like a basketball player than a footballer.
He broke Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for the highest jump in Serie A earlier this month with an astonishing 2.58metre leap.
His pace and strength are too much for defenders to deal with on top of his superb link-up play and movement into space.
Osimhen scores all types of goals, whether they be poacher’s tap-ins, headers and long-rangers off each foot and even from almost impossible angles, as he proved with his effort at Sassuolo on Friday.
It has been some journey to the top for the striker, though, with regular injuries and even at one stage a bout of malaria impeding his progress.
He moved to Wolfsburg in Germany as a 17-year-old, before heading to Belgium with Charleroi and then on to France with Lille.
It was there, he played alongside ex-Southampton star Jose Fonte.
The pair struck up a friendship, despite their 15-year age gap, and still stay in touch.
Euro 2016 winner Fonte, 39, told SunSport: “Apart from being a great footballer, he’s a very nice guy who wants to listen and get better every day.
“He likes to laugh, tell jokes and have fun. He’s a hard worker but he’s very sociable.
‘NIGHTMARE TO PLAY AGAINST’
“It’s a nightmare to play against him because he doesn’t stop running.
“He’s fast, he’s tall, he’s competitive, he’s aggressive, he doesn’t shy away from tackles and cherishes defenders being physical with him.”
Convincing Napoli to sell will not be easy, with just over two years remaining on his contract.
De Laurentiis stated publicly that the forward, who wears a protective mask after breaking a cheekbone and eye socket in November 2021, is not for sale.
Amokachi, 50, who now works as a special advisor to the Nigerian sports minister, said: “It’s rare Napoli release players. He’s a fans’ favourite. I don’t see them letting him go.
“But if they do, Osimhen can fit into any league in the world.”
While Fonte added: “He’s not the final product, that’s the scary thing — he’s getting better and better.”