Osimhen is a huge doubt for Barcelona’s UCL clash

Osimhen is a huge doubt for Barcelona’s UCL clash
Photo by Icon Sport

With the conclusion of AFCON 2023, Europe-based African players should return to their clubs, including Napoli striker Victor Osimhen.

It was, by far, one of the most exciting tournaments, with the host nation dragging themselves from a poor start to emerge winners.

Many fans were less than satisfied with the performance of Osimhen for the Super Eagles, as he scored only one goal throughout the tournament.

Inside reports have emerged of the status of the Napoli forward, as his club expects him to return to action soon, but things are not going to script for him.

With the return of the UEFA Champions League, there is a high chance that Osimhen will not be available for their home clash against FC Barcelona.

Osimhen in fitness issues ahead of Champions League clash

Victor Osimhen in second place for Nigeria
Photo by Icon Sport

Napoli will host Spanish heavyweights Barcelona on Wednesday in their first leg, UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie.

However, there are hints that their talisman will not be available for the tie following a gruelling AFCON 2023.

Osimhen, who played all seven Super Eagles matches in less than four weeks and scored one goal, seems to have fitness issues.

The latest reports suggest that he lost 3-4kgs in weight during the tournament, and despite finishing second, Nigeria returned home to a government greeting and plenty of activities.

At the reception with the Nigerian president, the Super Eagles players received gifts, properties and national awards in honour of their performance at AFCON 2023.

Meanwhile, Osimhen is yet to return to Napoli.

Osimhen is not yet in Naples

Will Osimhen be fit for Barcelona tie?
Photo by Icon Sport

The situation with the Super Eagles striker also puts doubt on his availability for Napoli's next Serie A game, with his fitness and late arrival to the club.

According to reports in Italy, Osimhen, who has courted interest from various clubs, including Chelsea and Real Madrid is not yet in Napoli despite leaving Nigeria for his base.

Following the reception by the Nigerian president, the Napoli striker had a delayed journey after he missed his connecting flight.

Osimhen was due to arrive in Napoli on Thursday morning but failed to make it. Reports say it was not his fault, as he flew from Nigeria to a European capital before heading to Campania, and a delay saw him miss the connecting flight.

However, there is no cause for alarm, as he should be at his club before the end of the day. He will not join the rest of the squad in training, which puts a massive doubt on his availability for their Serie A clash with Genoa on Saturday.

The 25-year-old striker has missed the last seven games by Napoli across Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana due to AFCON.

Ahead of their Champions League clash with Barcelona, Osimhen is now in a race against time to be fit for the game.

Barcelona have had defensive issues recently, conceding goals, and Napoli expects Osimhen to play a vital role in helping the Serie A side make it to the quarter-finals.

The former Lille striker has scored only one goal in the Champions League this season. It came in a 2-0 win over SC Braga in Napoli's last group game.

This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter.