Okay, so it’s an international break, which means that any substantive news will be hard to come by. In that vein, the latest scurriulous rumour has us offering Gabriel Jesus (and cash) to Napoli to prise Victor Osimhen away after a truly bizarre TIktok scandal seems to have burned any bridges between the club and player. In the absence of anything else to discuss during the fortnight (for the younger one among us, that means “two weeks”), let’s indulge this latest silly salvo, shall we?
First, the scandal. For reasons that beggar belief, Napoli posted to Tiktok a truly weird clip in which Osimhen is clamouring for a penalty, with a cartoonishly fast commentary dubbed over in which he appears to beg, like a chipmunk on crack, for that penalty. The fact that he went on to miss the penalty only salts the wounds. The fact that a club would take a nick out of its own player—and to do so in racially overloaded tones—is jaw-dropping. Thierry Henry called it “wrong on every level…comparing a black guy to a coconut, where I come from, you get punched in the nose”. Osimhen’s agent has threatened legal action, and it would seem that the player’s time at the club will come to an end sooner rather than later, with the January window looming.
The question then becomes, should Arsenal move for Osimhen? We’ve been linked to the Nigerian for several years now, and we’ve craved a clinical finisher for just as long. For those wondering about his finishing, he scored 26 goals in Serie A last season, with just two of those coming from the spot. He added five more in Champions League play, suggesting that he can in fact perform at the highest levels even if he was scoring against second-tier opponents (Ajax, Eintracht Frankfurt, and AC Milan).
Jesus has been quite good in many areas, notably pressing and versatility, but he hasn’t quite kicked on in the one area we’ve needed and hoped for: scoring goals. While he’s been a touch better than Richarlison in that area, he’s hardly set the Prem alight. On the other hand, he’s shown his ability to play across the front line and has energised our attack as a result. In 42 appearances, he’s scored 14 goals and added eight assists. Those are, at a risk of slighting the man, barely Walcottian numbers (Waltcott-esque?). Of course, the goals contributions amount to just one metric of his value, albeit a very valuable one. Still, it’s hard to feel that Jesus has lived up to his billing. If Napoli are open to a swap. we might do well by ourselves to at least consider it.
One downside would be that Osimhen is cup-tied, having featured in Champions League fixtures already. Assuming that we’d send Jesus in exchange, we’d be left with Nketiah as our only out-and-out striker for subsequent UCL fixtures going forward (assuming we progress from the group stage, of course). While it’s true that we could deploy Havertz there, one barrier to his development and integration has been his deployment to innumerable positions. I feel like I’m peeling an onion here. Too many layers.
For myself, I have to admit to wondering whether Osimhen might be just too much a prima donna to be worth it. Say what you will about Jesus’s goals production; he’s a team-first player. It’s hard to know where Osimhen fits on that spectrum. We’ve seen our share of narcissistic, me-first but prolific scorers (Exhibit A: Aubameyang). There are rumours and innuendoes that suggest that Osimhem’s attitude could be a problem, and he certainly wouldn’t be the first player who let his attitude outstrip his ability. Could—or would—Arteta reign him in? The Spaniard has shown that he won’t tolerate divas, be they Guendouzi or Ozil or Aubameyang.
Should Arteta deem Osimhen worth a roll of the dice, even at the cost of losing Jesus, I have to feel it would be worth it. What say you? Is it worth swapping a team-first player who hasn’t been scoring as often as we’d like for a me-first player who scores as often as we’d like?