In this scout report, I will be looking into the young Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen and how he has settled into Lille boss Christophe Galtier’s system at the Ligue 1 side. I will delve into how Osimhen fits the system and his strengths and weaknesses backing my points up with statistics and tactical analysis showing how he has racked up 13 goals and 5 assists in this domestic league season.
Ability in the attacking phase
Osimhen’s heatmap in 19/20
From what we can see in this heatmap, it shows Osimhen spending the vast majority of his time on the right side of the pitch as well as the penalty area. As we look further into this, Osimhen’s time in the box is not justified by the amount of shots he has taken per 90 in Ligue 1 this season, being at a rather average number of 3.4 shots but this is on par with Sergio Aguero. This is because both players are alike only taking shots they know will pay off, both players tend to hit shots hard and low aiming for a goal every time.
We can eliminate the theory that Osimhen is a deep-lying forward with creative attributes as he only completes 13.1 passes per game and only 0.8 of these are key passes, the Nigerian also only completes 0.4 dribbles per game. After you have seen these statistics, it becomes pretty clear Osimhen is most likely deployed as a target man by Christophe Gaultier with the aim being for the rest of the Lille team to create opportunities for Osimhen by sending long balls. Osimhen can use his pace and strong stature to his advantage to make sure he tends to the first and second balls an example of this was when Lille faced off against Nimes :
All Osimhen’s Goals have come from inside the box which expands my proof of my acknowledgment of his role. Osimhen’s clinical finishing and movement has allowed him to get 0.51 goals per 90 which is pretty much a goal every 2 games which is a fantastic return for a 21-year old striker:
I was alluding to the fact Osimhen has great movement off the ball in the box, this is because whoever is crossing the ball becomes the defenders first priority as they begin to watch the ball and pressure the ball carrier instead of Osimhen, this allows him to use his good movement in the box to his advantage this means he can make a run while the defender is concentrated on the crosser of the ball and then when the cross comes in if it is successful.
There are a multitude of examples of this is in action, what ends up happening is the defender marking Osimhen will venture towards the ball when it is crossed in and try and clear it, leaving Osimhen with space to run into and put the ball in the back of the net I have highlighted a prime example below.
Osimhen can use his movement in the box in other ways, he occasionally stalls his run before he runs backwards towards the edge of the box so the cross can be aimed there where he is in space and has time to release a shot. This is a prime example of this happening:
Osimhen also has a great aerial ability he has the body strength as well as the height to beat defenders in the air, of course his movement will help with this but it is mainly his athletic stature that contributes to his aerial ability. He scored a good header from a corner against Chelsea in the champions league this season beating 2 defenders to the ball and then he put it in the back of the net
Osimhen practically carries every ability needed for a target man, this can further be proven by his immense hold-up play which he can use to lay off other players to create goalscoring chances. One reason his hold up play might be so good is his ability to hold on to the ball. He only has 2.9 unsuccessful touches per 90, this is only 0.6 ahead of Harry Kane who has one of the best hold up play reputations in the world. His hold up play has definitely contributed to him amassing 5 assists and 0.8 key passes per 90, I know what you might be thinking only 0.8 key passes but this is high considering the role Osimhen plays. This is level with Sergio Aguero who joins Osimhen on 0.8 key passes per 90. Osimhen likes to play with his back to goal before receiving the ball and sometimes making a swift turn prior to laying off one of his team-mates. He displayed this in Lille’s encounter with Strasbourg in September.
Osimhen is the strongest in the box but we can’t knock his ability to make runs and cause problems with back-lines he likes to get in between centre halves before accelerating and finding space to the right or the left or make the central run before hopefully getting a shot off. To the Nigerians misfortune, he didn’t score from this opportunity but it is a prime example of what he can do and if he does it correctly and consistently it leads to more goals, it tends to be more of a nuisance against teams who deploy a higher line.
Ability in the defensive phase/in transition
When Lille lose the ball, in transition they will begin to press and block off passing options. This usually includes Osimhen if they lose the ball high up the pitch as they press aggressively, this happened in a game Lille played against PSG in Ligue 1 this season:
Lille player Reinildo won the ball through the press and Osimhen blocking the player contributed to this after this Osimhen could swiftly move into a position of space where he would be passed the ball and could have a shot, here’s the photo:
This has shown how Osimhen works in transition offensively and defensively. We can now move onto where he is positioned when Lille do not have the ball. when Lille lose the ball they tend to swiftly transition into pressing from the front using the logic that attack is the first form of defence, so when Lille are off the ball and they have not gained the ball from the forwards press, Osimhen will stay forward and will not come back on the defence or contribute to any defensive work. This is so if Lille are to win back the ball they have the option to pass it long which is commonly used as I explained earlier.
Areas for improvement
Osimhen is still young at the age of 21 and will obviously have areas to improve upon. No one is the perfect player but with improvement Osimhen could become one of the best in the business. One of the youngsters biggest flaws is having the knack of being caught offside a few too many times. He has been caught offside 1.3 times per 90 on average this season, this is 0.8 offsides per 90 higher than Moussa Dembele of Lyon. This can be very easily fixed as he is already smart off the ball inside the box so it should be simple to implement this all over the pitch. Despite being caught offside a lot there is no doubt the striker can combat the offside trap as he has shown especially in his game against Angers. From what I have found it seems the young striker is committing a few too many fouls and on average in Ligue 1. He commits 2.2 fouls per 90, which could probably be avoided seeing the position he plays this would just involve him concentrating more throughout the full game.
This has not seen a decline but rather a rise in recent affairs. In Lille’s last game before Ligue 1 was suspended, he committed 4 fouls, all of which were unnecessary especially for someone in his role who does not have to commit to as many defensive duties as the rest of his team. All of these areas for improvement I have listed can be easily fixed with some extra concentration throughout games.
After researching Osimhen, I have come to the conclusion he has the ability and potential to become an excellent player on the European stage in the UEFA Champions League this season. With some slight improvements, Osimhen could be the best in the business for years to come with his clinical movement and finishing alongside his incredible transitional play. The starlet has a good future ahead of him with many clubs interested in his services, even Premier League clubs. It will be interesting to see if he moves and if he can make as big a contribution he has made at Lille, scoring a jaw-dropping 37% of their goals in the domestic season.