VICTOR Osimhen is easily Nigeria’s biggest and costliest export to the European game. The 21-year-old rose to stardom courtesy of his remarkable performances playing for Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets and winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2015. He was voted the second best player in that year’s cadet competition, having scored the most goals wearing the country’s green-white-green jersey. He emerged the highest goal scorer of the tournament with 10 goals, beating the competition’s existing nine goals set by Frenchman Florent Sinama Pongolle.

Osimhen, by this performance, joined the league of the country’s cadet stars primed to rule the world, with good guidance and luck against career-threatening injuries.

Not many expected Osimhen to hit the top performer button for the Super Eagles though he had the talent. Indeed, his movement through a few clubs didn’t help matters but he was lucky to have gotten his groove in the game playing for Lille FC in France. It didn’t take too long for him to get rave reviews after weekly outstanding achievements, winning several Man of the Match awards and gaining the confidence and respect of his coaches, mates and fans.

Osimhen became the soul of his French side, thus attracting the attention of Nigeria’s Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr. Rohr’s decision to drop another former Golden Eaglets star Kelechi Iheanahcho wasn’t a popular one, with the manager’s critics arguing that he ought to have looked at the Leicester City FC of England’s pedigree in the game, although they agreed that Iheanacho had lost form. For the critics, Iheanacho’s experience towered above what Osimhen was doing for Lille in the French Ligue 1, considering how competitive the Barclays English Premier League is among other European leagues.

One thing our administrators know how to do best is to make proclamations at the spur of the moment hinged on nothing. They are experts in thinking after they have spoken. Whenever the country’s soccer teams win trophies, a deluge of promises and pronouncements are made. One such wild talk is the Federal Government’s decision to keep fresh winners of the cadet world Cup to nurture them to bigger glory. Need I waste space to dwell on the failures associated with government’s directives.

Today, one of such products, Osimhen, is locked in contractual controversies in a simple transfer exercise others do with pomp and ceremony. The twists and turns in Osimhen’s move to Italian giants Napoli have been very embarrassing, with each side of the divide claiming to be the best option for the Nigerian. Sadly, nothing is being heard from our soccer authorities because they were not truly involved in Osimhen’s initial movement out of the country. Statutorily, our football authorities ought to know how he left the country to play in Europe, going by the promises made to the winning contingent when they won the World Cup in 2015.

The way things are going, one won’t be surprised if the matter is taken to FIFA  for adjudication, with as many as three agents and two big clubs embroiled in who gets what from the contractual agreement. One just hopes it doesn’t degenerate to this despicable level because it could lead to the player being sanctioned or, in some cases, punished with a ban, especially with the Qatar 2022 World Cup just two years away. The first allegation levelled at Osimhen is that of greed. But the simple rule in transfers is that players go for the biggest pies. Would you blame such players? No. A players’ lifespan, barring injuries, is between 10 to 15 years, after which his market value diminishes.

If it’s true that agent A (names withheld) took Osimhen to Europe in the first instance, leading to subsequent transfers which all the parties benefitted from, and if one of the parties feels he needs to move to agent B (names withheld), it therefore behoves on the former to take it in good faith and look for avenues for settlement based on what is contained in the legal documents binding them. Like lawyers say Res ipsa loquitur.

Mudsling shouldn’t be introduced to destroy the player’s career, no matter what, since a deal, which isn’t everlasting, had been struck. The aggrieved party should look at the document and see what he is entitled to since it is the player who has broken the pact, if the stories are anything to be taken seriously. Contracts ought not to be oaths but mutual understanding among parties.

Radio Punto Nuovo, as per Football Italia during the week quoted one of the parties to have said that:”It was not clear what happened. Perhaps something fishy went down, probably between the Presidents of Lille and Napoli. They will certainly have promised him money. Lille for some reason wanted to only sell to Napoli because there’s an excellent relationship between the presidents. At the moment, my company doesn’t need to look itself in the mirror, the two clubs do.”

Pity. What was he expecting? The clubs own the player. In any transfer, negotiations start with interactions between the clubs involved. Whatever transpired surely would have arisen from a deal beneficial to all the parties. After all, it is where the player wants to play that determines the transfer. It could also mean that the clubs conspired against the agent because of his reservations in the international media over racists chants which have poured odium on the game in Italy. Poor agent. Lessons learned no doubt.

The news on Wednesday was positive about Osimhen being unveiled Friday as a Napoli player. This report is, however, subject to last minute changes. The clumsy manner in which Osimhen’s transfer has been handled underlines the fact that we learned nothing from Mikel Obi’s troublesome transfer in 2005.

Osimhen has shown that he isn’t a naive African by demanding a share of his image rights, no matter whose ox is gored. Not all things coming from Africa are cheap. Those blaming Osimhen for the delay in signing his contract should know that he becomes the most expensive player in Africa, making his photographs the biggest image the club’s fans want everywhere. Besides, Osimhen’s photographs track a lot on the internet and it is only fair that he has a chunk, not a slice, of all that comes with his images.

Need I state how much Cristiano Ronaldo earns on his Instagram page to mention just one platform? According to Forbes, Ronaldo earns nearly $1 million per paid post on Instagram and has the second-highest income from Instagram-related revenue at $23.3 million.

According to a report by Buzz Bingo, Lionel Messi was placed second on the list of highest-earning global personalities via their Instagram accounts. The 32-year-old earned €670,000 ($760,000) per Instagram post which rounds off to €26.8 million ($30.4 million) in the past year.

Football is serious business because it launches you into great opportunities. It will be a crime not to tap into the goodies. Days are gone when players celebrate passion over everything else. And getting the opportunity of increasing wealth via image right is an offer tantalisingly too good for Osimhen to miss.

The Napoli deal should be signed on his terms and not give the club too much control over his future. Because I already envisage the Serie A side slapping a buy-out clause of 200million pounds on him when (not if) he eventually signs.


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