In football you win some and you lose some. The same is true of transfers. Some players are an instant hit, while others fail to live up to expectations and you have to admit it’s not working and move them on. However, when that player then instantly blossoms into a real star and becomes a gold mine, clubs are left rueing their haste.
The case of VfL Wolfsburg and Victor Osimhen is a case in point. A hugely forgettable season-and-a-half at the Volkswagen Arena saw him sold for what they paid. Last week Napoli splashed out some €70 million on the much sought- after goal getter. You win some, you lose some.
The Nigerian striker signed for die Wölfe back in January 2017 from the Ultimate Strikers Academy in Lagos, Nigeria after an impressive showing at the U-17 World Cup in Chile. Wolfsburg paid a reported fee of €3.5 million. After just two brief substitute appearances, he was looking forward to breaking through in the 2017-18 Bundesliga season. Wolfsburg struggled and finished in the relegation play-off spot and the young Nigerian struggled equally. He was limited to 12 appearances (only three starts) and failed to score.
Having survived the play-off against Holstein Kiel, the club decided to offer Osimhen for loan only for both Zulte Waregem and Club Brugge to turn him down. Fortunately, Charleroi took a gamble on him and the rest as they say is history. 11 goals in 20 appearances earned him a €22.4 million move to Liile, where he continued to bang in the goals (13 in 27 appearances). With many major clubs showing interest, Napoli paid a club record €70 million to take him to the San Paolo and Serie A.
So, what went so wrong at Wolfsburg?
“When I arrived at Wolfsburg, everything was different compared to what I was used to,” the now 21-year-old Osimhen told Sport1. “The food, the climate, the language, the way people treated me.
“I thought, will I get through this? But if I had stayed in Nigeria, I wouldn’t have been given a chance like the one they gave me in Germany. It was my first time in Europe. I was only 18 but didn’t have the time to adapt.”
In the end Osimhen proved himself, albeit away from Wolfsburg, who had originally brought the youngster to Europe. That must hurt surely.
“Things like this happen,” VfL manager Jörg Schmadtke has admitted. “As a club you never want to be part of such developments, but you are never immune to it.
“The most important lesson is that you have to be patient with some transfers. You can’t say: We’ll sign you up, provide accommodation and food and then it will work. The importance of patience is sometimes underestimated.”