Napoli deny having ‘frosty’ relationship with striker Victor Osimhen

By Sports Desk October 20, 2023

Napoli have dismissed claims that relations with star striker Victor Osimhen have turned “frosty” after contract talks broke down without resolution.

Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis had revealed discussions over an extension to the 24-year-old Nigeria international’s current deal, which runs until the summer of 2025, had reached a standstill, prompting suggestions of a breakdown in the relationship between club and player.

Osimhen, who has been linked with a move to the Premier League with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all touted as potential suitors, has found himself in the headlines in recent weeks after a video posted on the club’s official TikTok account appeared to mock him, while he was also involved in a public spat with manager Rudi Garcia, for which he has since apologised.

However, a statement issued on Napoli’s official website on Friday said: “SSC Napoli would like to clarify recent comments made by president Aurelio De Laurentiis regarding Victor Osimhen, given that his words have been distorted by certain media publications.

“President De Laurentiis did not say anything negative about Victor. He simply stated that after a series of lengthy contract negotiations which ended with the parties shaking hands and agreeing to continue together, Victor had second thoughts.

“President De Laurentiis hopes this is merely a pause for reflection. Over the coming weeks, when Victor will not be able to play as he recovers from injury, the president, Osimhen and his agent Roberto Calenda will sit down calmly to discuss the future.

“Describing relations between Osimhen and Napoli as ‘frosty’ is entirely out of place.”

Osimhen is currently recovering from a hamstring injury suffered during Nigeria’s 2-2 friendly draw with Saudi Arabia in Portugal last Friday and is facing several weeks on the sidelines.

He will therefore play no part in Saturday’s trip to Verona – Frank Anguissa and Juan Jesus are also in the treatment room – as Garcia’s men attempt to bounce back from successive home defeats by Real Madrid in the Champions League and Fiorentina in Serie A.

Victory at the Stadio Bentegodi would steady the ship for the side currently sitting in fifth place in the table ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League visit to Union Berlin.

Verona are without a win in six league outings and have collected only two points along the way, and boss Marco Baroni knows they will have to be at their very best to take anything from the reigning champions.

Baroni told a press conference: “Tomorrow we’ll face the reigning champions. In general I always believe in what we do: in order to reach our goal we need everyone. The more we are solid as a group, the faster we’ll improve.

“Napoli is a really tough side to face. We’ll have to give it all both as individuals and as a team, we can’t do differently. Then we’ll see the final response on the field.”

Related items

  • Netherlands 0-0 France: Simons denied as spoils shared at top of Group D Netherlands 0-0 France: Simons denied as spoils shared at top of Group D

    Xavi Simons saw a potential winner controversially disallowed as the spoils were shared in a 0-0 draw between the Netherlands and France in Group D at Euro 2024.

    A VAR check led to the Dutchman's 69th-minute strike being chalked off for offside, stopping the Oranje from booking their place in the round of 16 with a game to spare.

    Antoine Griezmann squandered a host of chances for France, who struggled in front of goal with Kylian Mbappe relegated to the bench due to a broken nose.

    Both sides move onto four points, and after Austria's win over Poland earlier on Friday, it is all to play for between the top three on the final matchday, with Poland the first team to be officially eliminated from the tournament. 

    The Netherlands came flying out of the blocks, with Jeremie Frimpong forcing a fingertip save from Mike Maignan with less than a minute on the clock.

    France soon found their footing though, with Griezmann, wearing the armband in Mbappe's absence, failing to scramble it in from six yards after Adrien Rabiot's lay-off before he drilled another effort just wide of the post.

    Maignan was required again when Cody Gakpo cut inside from left before whipping a firm shot across goal, as the goalkeeper got a strong hand to it.

    Just before the half-hour mark, Marcus Thuram looked set to break the deadlock after beating the offside trap, but one-on-one with the goalkeeper, he sliced his effort over the crossbar.

    After a slow start to the second half, France rallied on the hour mark, with Aurelien Tchouameni flashing a header over before Griezmann saw another glorious opportunity smothered by Bart Verbruggen at his near post.

    Against the run of play, Simons thought he had given the Netherlands the lead by picking out the bottom-right corner after latching onto the rebound of Memphis Depay's saved shot, but Denzel Dumfries, in an offside position, was judged to be impeding the goalkeeper and the goal was ruled out after a lengthy VAR check.

    Toothless France struggle without their talisman

    All the pre-match talk centred on whether Mbappe would be fit to play after suffering a broken nose against Austria.

    The answer: he was not. Instead, he started on the bench, with Marcus Thuram tasked with playing as the main forward in his absence.

    Griezmann provided their foremost threat though, appearing in his 11th consecutive game at the Euros for France – Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (18) and Germany's Toni Kroos (13) are the only outfielders on longer such streaks for their nations.

    It was a record-equalling appearance for the stand-in captain too, his 32nd at major tournaments, the most for a French outfielder along with Lilian Thuram.

    However, the forward had four of France's five first-half shots, finishing with five overall, but failed to lead Les Bleus to a statement victory.

    Still, France's wait for a win without Mbappe in their starting lineup goes on, as they have failed to come out on top in any of their last seven such matches (four draws, three defeats).

    Netherlands smother Les Bleus

    After losing both meetings in qualifying for Euro 2024 by an aggregate score of 6-1, the Netherlands were likely not too happy to come up against Les Bleus once more.

    However, in the absence of Mbappe, who has scored six goals in five matches against the Dutch, the Netherlands were able to hold firm.

    At the Euros, the Oranje have now avoided defeat in all three of their group-stage meetings with France (2000, 2008, 2024).

    Defensively, they stood strong. Despite France having 13 shots, only three were on target as they created 1.4 expected goals (xG).

    Virgil van Dijk led by example, making the most clearances (seven) of anybody on the pitch as the Netherlands protected their clean sheet.

  • Martinez has no concerns over Ronaldo fatigue as Portugal face Turkiye test Martinez has no concerns over Ronaldo fatigue as Portugal face Turkiye test

    Roberto Martinez has no doubts about Cristiano Ronaldo's ability to play 90 minutes every few days at Euro 2024, as Portugal prepare to face Turkiye in their second game.

    Portugal opened their Group F campaign with a nervy 2-1 win over Czechia on Tuesday, with Francisco Conceicao coming off the bench to net a 92nd-minute winner.

    Ronaldo – the all-time leading scorer at the Euros with 14 goals – played all 90 minutes in the Selecao's opening match, becoming the first player to feature at six different editions of the tournament (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020 and 2024).

    He endured a frustrating outing, failing to score from five shots worth 0.73 expected goals (xG) including missing one big chance, as defined by Opta.

    The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has seen his place in the Portugal lineup debated since he was surprisingly dropped by Fernando Santos at the 2022 World Cup.

    Martinez, however, feels the 39-year-old is more than capable of playing a full part, saying: "How many games did Cristiano play last season?

    "There is no other player who has been at six European Championships. He brings experience, he offers us chances to score and opens up spaces. 

    "We analyse the data and can see what he does. He's in the team because he deserves it. He can play every four days."

    Some in the Portuguese media have questioned whether Martinez should field another striker alongside Ronaldo, but the former Belgium boss wants his team to attack as a collective. 

    "He was the striker with the most shots on target, he was disciplined, he worked hard. He's an area player, he opens up spaces," Martinez said.

    "The important thing for us is to arrive in the area. We are not a direct team. We want to get into the final third with six or seven players. We don't need another player close to Cristiano, we need six or seven."

    Turkiye could call upon huge support at their opening match in Dortmund, as they overcame Georgia 3-1 in one of the games of the tournament to date. 

    Martinez predicts a hostile reception for his team on Sunday, saying: "We expect the stadium to be loud. Turkey had a lot of support in the stands. 

    "We also need to be ourselves, controlling the tempo and bringing width because that is what we do best. 

    "Turkey showed they can defend but their focus is always to attack. They are aggressive, they have character and attitude. There are no secrets."

  • Columbus Crew v Sporting Kansas City: Vermes looking to improve 'soft' defending Columbus Crew v Sporting Kansas City: Vermes looking to improve 'soft' defending

    Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes wants to see a better defensive display when they travel to Columbus Crew in the MLS on Saturday.

    Sporting KC sit second from bottom in the Western Conference, having won just three of their 19 games so far.

    After back-to-back losses to LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake in which they conceded four goals in both, Vermes admitted they needed to rectify the situation as soon as possible.

    "I can't deny the fight of the guys, but defensively, it's too soft," he said. "Unfortunately, it's similar to what happens in a lot of games.

    "We can be fighting back in a game and give away a nothing goal. There's a ton of chances that could put us way ahead, but we can't be giving up the goals that we give up. That's it; that's the game."

    Columbus, meanwhile, are right in the mix in the Eastern Conference, sitting sixth with 27 points.

    A 2-1 defeat to Inter Miami snapped their four-match winning streak in the MLS, but head coach Wilfried Nancy is confident they can quickly put that result behind them.

    "It has been good games, good performances," head coach Wilfried Nancy said. "[The last game] was also a good performance, but we were not good at certain moments. This is again something that we did well. We have grown a lot regarding these kinds of games."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Columbus Crew – Cucho Hernandez

    Cucho attempted 10 shots in the Crew's defeat to Inter Miami on Wednesday, his third game with at least 10 shots since making his MLS debut in July 2022.

    All other players in MLS have three total games with 10+ shots in that time (Raul Ruidiaz, Hany Mukhtar, Julian Carranza, one each).

    Sporting Kansas City – William Agada

    Agada scored two of Kansas City's three goals on Wednesday, his fifth multi-goal match for Sporting. Only five players have recorded more multi-goal games in the team's history.

    MATCH PREDICTION: COLUMBUS CREW WIN

    This will be the Crew's first regular-season home match since losing to FC Cincinnati on May 11. Columbus are winless in four straight MLS home matches after winning 12 of their previous 14 home league games.

    Kansas City have lost nine of their last 10 regular-season matches (W1), including losing six in a row on the road in league play. This is the first time in the post-shootout era (since 2000) that Sporting have lost nine times in a span of 10 such matches.

    However, Kansas City have lost just one of their last 12 matches against Columbus (W7 D4) dating back to October 2012, though three of the last four meetings have ended in draws. This will be the first meeting between the sides in Columbus in one day short of five years (June 23, 2019).

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Columbus Crew – 64.2%

    Draw – 19.1%

    Sporting Kansas City – 16.7%

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.