This article was originally published in August 2019 here.
The young Nigerian striker has just moved to Lille OSC this week from Royal Charerloi SC. He scored 19 goals in the Belgian League last season aged just 20. His move is reported to be about €14 million. Meanwhile, Lille have sold Rafael Leão to AC Milan for about €35 million this week also.
Osimhen will will be one to keep an eye on at Lille this season, especially with their Champions League campaign, and I’m sure he’ll be becoming a mainstream name and have larger clubs looking at him.
Physically, Osimhen stands at 6’1″ with long legs and a good natural frame but lacks muscle mass. Despite this he shows good strength in aerial duels and in his hold up play which are both essential parts to his game. For Charerloi he is the target of long balls, usually directly from the goalkeeper, competing in 12 aerial duels per 90 which is the third highest for strikers in the league. He doesn’t have a great jump and sometimes didn’t use his body enough under high balls, but was still effective at supplying flick ons and receiving long balls. He won 40.9% of his aerial duels, which was the 11th highest for strikers in the Belgian top tier and top out of U21 forwards.
The Nigerian international has decent pace and works hard in and out of possession. He can seem a little heavy footed at times and lost his footing a few times with poor balance. He had good stamina, maintaining his work rate to press the opposition high and give support runs late into the game.
His acceleration was average and he didn’t have much of a short burst of pace to speak of even if his overall speed was decent. His agility could have been better when turning and changing direction but he was a tireless worker.
Osimhen was an effective target man and did well under long balls. He usually positioned himself on the sideline as the keeper prepared his goal kick. As the goal kick was taken, the striker drifted into a half space to meet the ball and flick it on or bring it down. He has a great first touch and received the ball really well. Using his chest to bring the ball down regularly, including at speed. The young striker also used his thigh or knees to control long passes. He had good control, often using his knees to juggle the ball and avoid pressure, although this often lead to the him losing the ball. He brought down high balls well and kept the ball tight.
As you can see from the graphic, he doesn’t complete many passes. He’s very much a back-to-goal striker, playing mostly layoffs to teammates. He completed just 2.7 forward passes per 90 last season. His passing was decent with good technique and was smooth, although could be under or overhit at times and needed more consistency. He was good at bringing his teammates into play with his layoffs and holdup game. He held up the ball well but sometimes didn’t use his body enough to protect the ball.
Osimhen was good on the counter also, using his good touch and movement. He didn’t tend to travel with the ball unless isolated and starting the counter attack. He liked to charge down the wing, knocking the ball past opponents and using his long legs to protect the ball despite not particularly close control. But, he’s unlikely to take on his man with skill and dribbles mainly on fast attacks into space and down the wing.
The striker is also a good finisher. He’s got a powerful shot who constantly gets into good scoring positions. He has good movement to get into these positions and has very high shot volume, taking 3.9 per 90 which was the highest in Belgian league. He also takes 4.6 touches in the box, 4th highest in the league.
The graphic above shows a run he regularly made. As the opposition full back pressed he saw the dog-leg created and made diagonal runs into the space and in behind the line.
In the box, he worked hard for his positioning and made good movement across his man with darted runs, especially to the front post. He made sure to position himself in his marker’s blindspot and created space for himself. Along with his physical presence in the box, he is a dangerous striker who is good at being on the end of big chances and converting them.
On top of this, he was a good presser. He worked hard throughout the match to press the opposition defence with good intensity. Charleroi were the fourth highest pressing team in the league last season. Osimhen was able to read play well and react to it, forcing the opposition into errors.
Overall, Osimhen is an exciting young striker who looks set to be a success in France. He’s strong with good finishing and movement. He has good control with a high work rate, ability to hold up the ball and an effective high press. He thrives on the counter and will be an asset for Lille next season as they look to repeat this season’s success despite losing Leão to Milan and Pepe to Arsenal.