The former collaborator of Napoli sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli has revealed how far the 51-year-old went to stop Victor Osimhen from joining Liverpool in 2020.
The Nigerian striker – who’s reportedly valued at €150m (£130m) by his club in the wake of reported interest from Chelsea and Manchester United (Il Mattino in March) – was sought by Reds manager Jurgen Klopp three years ago.
However, he would instead sign for the Azzurri from Lille that summer and has gone on to Serie A glory this season with 23 goals for Luciano Spalletti’s side (Transfermarkt).
Giuntoli’s long-time former aide Giandomenico Costi told the print edition of Tuttosport (16 May, page 15, via Football Italia) how committed the Napoli chief was to landing Osimhen ahead of Liverpool, revealing: “The signing of Osimhen is Giuntoli’s biggest masterpiece.
“He [Osimhen] was locked in a hotel for three days. Giuntoli knew Liverpool were interested, and Jurgen Klopp had made his move, but Cristiano spoke to Osimhen in the hotel for three days until he convinced him to accept Napoli.
“He was full of energy. Giuntoli is a director who would call you 100 times a day. He knew Victor very well, he had even followed him at Charleroi.”
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Osimhen has since gone on to score 56 goals in 98 games for Napoli (Transfermarkt), proving to be a roaring success at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona since his move in 2020.
With Liverpool having just won the Premier League that summer, spearheaded by Mo Salah, Bobby Firmino and Sadio Mane in attack, it would’ve been understandable if Reds fans didn’t feel too disenchanted about missing out on the Nigerian.
The feeling may be different now considering what the 24-year-old has gone on to do in Italy, although Klopp didn’t linger on the near-miss for long, having since brought in Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo to bolster the forward line at Anfield.
There may be a sense of what could have been with Osimhen and LFC, but at least we can still boast an abundance of attacking riches who’d be the envy of most clubs in Europe.
A return of 70 Premier League goals this season – the third-highest in the division – doesn’t exactly indicate any great profligacy in the final third at Liverpool.
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