The expected return to action from injury by SSC Napoli of Italy striker, Victor Osimhen has been put on hold by a positive test for coronavirus, which the player’s club confirmed late Friday, which was the same day the youngster clocked 22, megasportsarena.com reports.
It turned out to be a New Year’s Day laced with varying implications for Osimhen, as he returned from treatment in Belgium in high spirits, got news about an improvement in his value ratings and received a warm welcome from his club, only for him to find out the positive COVID-19 report later on.
What began as a ‘Happy New Year,’ with great expectations of a return to excellence and regular game time for Osimhen turned round full circle within hours, as Napoli confirmed that Osimhen had been diagnosed with COVID-19, though their official statement also pointed out that he was asymptomatic.
The product of Ultimate Strikers Football Academy of Oregun, Lagos has been sidelined since last November, after dislocating his shoulder while playing for Nigeria in a 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone.
Osimhen has scored two goals in six league appearances with Napoli, but he has not played since November 8 because of the shoulder injury, thereby limiting his game time with the team that paid Lille Metropole of France a club record fee of up to 80 million euro ($94.6 million) to buy him on a five-year deal last summer.
However, Napoli on Friday revealed that Osimhen tested positive for COVID-19 on his return to Italy from Belgium, where the club had authorised him to continue his recovery from the injury, and the latest setback could rule him out of the Italian Super Cup against Juventus on January 20.
The Naples-based club’s statement revealed: “Napoli can confirm that Victor Osimhen has tested positive for COVID-19 following his return to Italy. Osimhen is currently asymptomatic and has not come into contact with the rest of the squad.”
Sadly, the confirmation from Napoli means fervid speculation about a likely return for Osimhen in Sunday’s Italian Serie A clash with Cagliari will no longer be possible, nor will he even get the chance of playing next weekend, considering that he will have to observe 14 days in quarantine.
The latest bolt of sad news for Osimhen came barely 24 hours after news emerged that the striker had entered 2021 atop the Nigerian players’ market value chart with a rating of 50 million euro, while third place surprisingly goes to FC Lorient of France attacker, Terem Moffi.
Before Moffi though, second placed on the latest figures released by Transfermarkt goes to Club Brugge of Belgium attacker, Emmanuel Dennis Bonaventure, as he stands between Osimhen and Moffi in the top echelon of Nigerian players with the biggest increase in market value since January 1, 2020.
Osimhen’s €50m value is an increase of 66.7 percent on his rating at the start of the year, while Moffi is third on the list with an astonishing 7,900 percent increase in his valuation, as a huge difference of €5.93m takes his current worth to €6m.
There is also an increment of €5m for Moffi, who is now represented by England-based Nigerian agent, Emeka Obasi, who also handles Ola Aina, Joe Aribo, Alex Iwobi and Chuba Akpom, as he is third with a new rating of €8m, but that is far behind Bonaventure, who is now worth €16m.
Fourth place goes to former SC Heerenveen of Holland winger, Chidera Ejuke, who now plays for CSKA Moscow of Russia and fifth is Chidozie Awaziem, who is on loan from FC Porto of Portugal to Boavista, with a valuation that has increased from €2.5m to €6m.
Sadly, all focus around Osimhen for now has shifted to Friday’s report about his positive test for COVID-19, which put paid to an earlier report by La Gazzetta dello Sport that the striker was expected back in training next week but would still take some time before returning to action.
The newspaper reported further that Osimhen would meet with Napoli’s medical staff to take stock of his physical condition, once he returned to Naples, adding: “(He) will have to undergo new instrumental tests to evaluate his complete recovery, but it will be difficult for him to be available for another 10 days.
“Recovery times, after such an injury, can be between 60 and 70 days. In short, as regards the times we should be there: Osimhen should return for the away match in Udine, scheduled for Sunday 10 January.”
Another Italian newspaper, Corriere dello Sport were, however, more cautious in their own permutations, as they stated: “Napoli hopes to be able to recover him at least for the Super Cup against Juventus on January 20. Gattuso hopes that he can’t wait to hug his forward again.”