Napoli sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli has sensationally revealed that the club signed Nigeria international Victor Osimhen in 2020 after Erling Haaland snubbed the Partenopei to join Borussia Dortmund.
The 23-year-old joined Napoli for a reported €75m fee in September 2020, months after Haaland’s move to Borussia Dortmund.
The Norway international is described by Giuntoli as his “biggest regret.”
“The contract with Salzburg was done already; we would have paid his €25m clause. He and Osimhen were our priorities and when Haaland opted for Borussia Dortmund, we went for Victor. To us, they were on the same level,” he told Il Corriere Dello Sport.
The Partenopei are the Serie A leaders, the only unbeaten side in the Italian topflight, and are enjoying an eight-point lead over second-placed Milan.
Osimhen has been Napoli’s best player and perhaps one of the best in the Serie A this season, with the Nigerian forward scoring nine goals with three assists in 11 league appearances for the Neapolitans.
The Partenopei have achieved amazing results in Italy and Europe, despite selling some of their best players last summer, including Kalidou Koulibaly, Lorenzo Insigne and Fabian Ruiz.
What’s the secret of Napoli’s success this term?
“Commitment, competence and the courage of ownership that has proved his worth in the last 18 years,” Giuntoli added.
“COVID forced us to change because the wage bill was no longer sustainable and the situation almost reset the financial resources.
“Despite COVID, De Laurentiis invested in signing Osimhen, but we had to make drastic decisions and open a new cycle.”
Giuntoli has been at the club for almost 10 years and has sometimes had a tense rapport with president Aurelio De Laurentiis.
“I can’t deny that there have been some misunderstandings, but it’s understandable in a rapport that’s been lasting for 10 years,” he admitted.
“Perhaps, he didn’t like my attitude at some point and thought I had some technical choices wrong.
“I consider De Laurentiis a manager with an extraordinary vision. Disagreements quickly disappeared and we started a dialogue, choosing a new path, and creating a familiar rapport.”
Their most brilliant summer signing was arguably Khvicha Kvaratskhelia who joined the Partenopei for just €10m.