Super Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen, faces a race to be fully fit for the delayed 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast next year, according to PUNCH Sports Extra.
The 24-year-old suffered a medium-grade lesion to the biceps femoris in his right thigh while in action for Nigeria in their 2-2 draw against Saudi Arabia in an international friendly on October 13 and will miss the 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and Zimbabwe next month.
Since sustaining the injury, Osimhen has missed Napoli’s last two matches against Hellas Verona and Union Berlin.
According to Il Mattino via Tutto Mercato Web, Osimhen is still undergoing his recovery plan and will carry out a new round of medical tests during the November international break, which is between November 17 and 20.
The report further revealed that Osimhen was unlikely to recover in time for Napoli’s clash with Atalanta November 25, adding that his club would not want to force him to return early. In view of this, he’s expected to be absent for another month.
This means that he is scheduled to return to action from December 25, 19 days to the start of the AFCON which holds from January 13 to February 11 in Ivory Coast.
Osimhen missed the last edition of the tournament in Cameroon due to a facial injury he sustained after a clash of heads with former Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar.
His absence could leave Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro without his biggest attacking threat heading into the tournament.
The former Lille striker finished as top scorer during the AFCON qualifying series with 10 goals — a form which puts him in firm contention for the 2023 African Footballer of the Year award, after his goalscoring exploits for Napoli last season led the Italian side to their first Serie A title in 33 years.
Meanwhile, Osimhen is reportedly unimpressed by club president Aurelio De Laurentiis’ recent statements regarding his contract renewal talks.
De Laurentiis hinted that the Nigerian had changed his mind after agreeing to the terms of a new contract with the club, saying, “If after a handshake things change, that is disappointing.”
Osimhen has less than two years left on his contract with Napoli and a new deal is starting to look increasingly unlikely, especially after he was recently mocked on the club’s official TikTok page, which sparked reactions in the Campania capital.
As reported by Il Mattino via TMW, Osimhen and his agent Roberto Calenda do not appreciate De Laurentiis’ recent comments and no new date has been set to continue contract negotiations.
The striker does not accept the president’s claims, feeling that an agreement was never reached in the first place.