Arsenal or Man United: Should Osimhen replace Ighalo or Aubameyang?

The LOSC Lille frontman’s appeal has increased in the last 12 months, prompting links bigger European clubs, including the Red Devils and Gunners

It’s been quite the turnaround for Victor Osimhen in the last year or so; the centre-forward has gone from enduring a torrid time at Wolfsburg to being top scorer for LOSC Lille with 18 goals in 36 games this season. In between was an encouraging loan spell at Sporting Charleroi which revived his career that threatened to wither away following inadequate game time in Germany.

The forward’s stock has risen considerably since his move to Ligue 1, and the top brass in the major European leagues have noticed; there have been transfer links to Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal in recent months, a turn of events that demonstrates the 21-year-old’s progress this term.

While a transfer to the Reds may be far-fetched as Roberto Firmino remains Jurgen Klopp’s preferred number nine, the situation at the latter pair confirms the viability of a potential deal.

United are evidently in need of a number nine, going by their reported targets in recent windows, as well as the loan signing of Odion Ighalo from Shanghai Shenhua in January. The ex-Watford man arrived after the Red Devils missed out on Erling Haaland in January, and they’ve seemingly shifted their focus to Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, who is valued at £200 million by Daniel Levy.

Frankly, there’s a fat chance of the Lilywhites getting anywhere close to that number from the Manchester outfit, so Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could either choose to extend Ighalo’s loan deal or pursue a younger long-term option in Osimhen to bolster his attacking options.

The prospect of teaming up with Marcus Rashford in the Red Devils attack is certainly mouth-watering, and the striker would be a good fit in United’s counter-attacking system. However, a major stumbling block could be Frenchman Anthony Martial, whose potential really excited the Theatre of Dreams upon his arrival from Monaco in 2015.

Still, the forward’s inconsistency and languid style divides opinion among the club’s supporters, and bringing in a forward with the profile of Osimhen could signal alarm bells for the 24-year-old striker who has never kicked on from his opening year in the Premier League.

Of course, several conversations will be had in the Manchester giants’ boardroom before a decision is reached over the direction the club will take, but on paper, the Lille frontman ought to fit right in at Old Trafford.

However, it’s not as clear-cut at Arsenal.

Admittedly, the Gunners’ captain and talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may leave in the summer, but choosing the Nigerian youngster to fill in for the Gabon star could overcomplicate matters for Mikel Arteta.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal 2019-20

Under the Spaniard boss, the former Borussia Dortmund frontman has been deployed in a wide role in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with either Alexander Lacazette or Eddie Nketiah deployed down the middle.

While Osimhen may replace the Arsenal captain’s goals, it remains to be seen if Arteta would deploy him down the middle or out wide if the North London club sign him as Auba’s replacement.

Indeed, the ex-Wolfsburg man has played all his games in France as the number nine while he was only deployed out wide in a handful of games in his time in the Belgian top flight. The last time the forward has somewhat consistently featured on the flanks was in his ill-fated time in the Bundesliga where he seldom played centrally.

Markedly, the young striker’s heat map this season shows an obvious bias for central positions and a tendency to drift wide right compared to occupying a position nominally wide on the left.

Mikel Arteta Arsenal

Thus, a transfer to Arsenal wouldn’t just give Arteta a selection headache upfront given Lacazette’s presence and the probable hindering of Nketiah’s development; it would also demand Osimhen to change his game if he’s to replace Aubameyang in the manager’s preferred approach.

Given the Lille frontman isn’t as blessed in the art of link-up play as the ex-Olympique Lyonnais striker, and to a lesser extent Nketiah, he may have issues having to change his style to suit the Spanish trainer’s game.

While it appears sensible to suggest the Nigerian could replace the Gabon international in theory, it may not be so straightforward in reality, meaning a move to Manchester could be a wiser move for the attacker.

It remains to be seen how things will turn out for Osimhen, but the striker can be pleased that his Ligue 1 performances are even prompting these sort of discussions. He’s been exemplary so far, and now needs to make the right move if he’s to take that jump to the next level.