As Victor Osimhen pow-wowed Inter Milan defender Milan Škriniar in their league encounter over the weekend, it was hoped his injury from the head collision would be negligible despite being visibly swollen before leaving the pitch.
It has since emerged that Osimhen had significant fractures to his cheek bone and surrounding structures leading to a delicate operation that would take no less than 2 months to convalesce.
There were mixed messages in several media outlets as some designated 1 month to his recovery (which delighted some Nigeria fans who still harbour hopes of seeing the budding striker feature at the Afcon) while others reported 3 months recovery.
Whichever it is, Osimhen will need time to recover from the latest mishap and perhaps reflect on his health issues since his celebrated move to Napoli in July 2020 for the now-widely-disputed €70 million.
After playing just 6 league matches in his first season in Italy, Osimhen suffered a nasty shoulder injury whilst playing for Nigeria in an Afcon qualifier against Sierra Leone in November 2020 (after falling awkwardly on a dodgy turf). He would miss a total of 14 games for Napoli afterwards.
Disobeying coronavirus protocols in December 2020 whilst on holiday in Nigeria would lead to Osimhen missing at least 2 games immediately after recovering from the shoulder injury because he tested positive for the deadly virus.
Things would scarcely improve in the new year as he was knocked unconscious having fallen awkwardly after a collision with Atalanta defender Cristian Romero in which he hit his head on the field in February: perhaps an omen of what was to come late in the same year.
Osimhen would spend a night in hospital and would miss 3 games. In short, injuries and illness robbed the lanky striker no less than 19 games last season – what neither him nor Napoli wanted, more so as he hadn’t particularly hit the ground running.
For a roughly 1 goal per 3 games striker last season, missing those games meant at least 6 goals that never materialised across all competitions for Osimhen: a telling affirmation of what he missed.
And this season, sadly I might add, has followed suit. A calf strain in October stole 2 games from him with this latest cheekbone injury set to sideline him for another 15 games across competitions for Napoli.
For us Super Eagles fans, words fail to convey the disappointment of our most lethal striker missing the Africa Cup of Nations in the new year.
Chances to add to his collection of goals and accolades for club and country have just gone up in smoke at the time he was starting to hone his skills as a striker.
I do wish Osimhen speedy recovery.
Perhaps a psychologist or another trained professional can look into why he has been injured a lot lately.
Of all strikers available to the Super Eagles at this time, Osimhen’s recent injury record is the most worrying and puzzling to me.
Iheanacho missed no game last season or this due to injury; Onuachu has been as fit as fiddle in the past 2 seasons whilst Super Eagles hopeful Sadiq Umar last missed a league game to injuries almost 3 years ago.
Even underwhelming Super Eagles striker Terem Moffi has no noteworthy injury entry on his record over the past two seasons.
Also, controversial returnee striker Ighalo is busy lining his pocket with cool oil-money with no injuries in sight.
In fact, if you compare all the games these players missed due to injuries in the past 2 seasons, they come nowhere near ¼ (a quarter) of Osimhen’s missed games, something I find astonishing.
I pray for Osimhen: racking up injuries and spending so much time recovering takes a toll on the body and diminishes a striker’s sharpness at least in the short-term.
I think Osimhen should tone down his exuberance and be selective as to how he channels his energy on the pitch rather than fighting every battle and risking a caution (or an injury).
He is expected to make a full recovery. Hopefully he will pick up from where he left off.
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