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Spalletti: We need Osimhen, our team suffers without him

Partenopei struggling without Super Eagles striker

Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti bemoaned the absence of top scorer Victor Osimhen after watching his side labour to a 2-1 win over Lecce in Serie A. The Partenopei needed to hold on for the win against a Lecce side struggling in the league this season, with a second-half own goal proving to be the winner for the league leaders.

Napoli have been without their goal machine Osimhen since the international break after the striker hurt himself on duty with the Super Eagles. In their first game without Osimhen following the break, they were walloped at home 4-0 by AC Milan, who they will face in a few days’ time in the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals.

Spalletti spoke about Osimhen’s peculiar qualities which make him one of the best strikers in world football. The Italian manager talked about how his striker helped bring his teammates into the game with his movement and the positions he takes up.

“It’s difficult without him, cos he has this way of running into space, this physicality, he can draw everyone to him & create the space for his teammates,” Spalletti said. In his absence, the Italian manager has started with Giovanni Simeone and Giacomo Raspadori in each game, with both strikers failing to make an impact.

This season, Osimhen has mostly been used as a battering ram in counterattacking situations by the Napoli boss. The striker is left to run the channels, chase down long balls and cause chaos in the opposition ranks. This affords the technically gifted Khvicha Kvaratskhelia the space to manipulate the ball and find the net or create goalscoring opportunities. It is, therefore, no surprise that the Georgian winger has struggled in Osimhen’s absence.

Spalletti hopes to have him back soon and when asked about his condition, the boss replied that he was close to full fitness.

“We need to see how he reacts to strong physical activities; so far he’s done some basic jogging. Osimhen wants to play every game, but there are situations that need to be evaluated carefully. He really did run the risk of hurting himself badly and being ruled out for the rest of the season, so the medics were right to make him take some time out.”

Osimhen was reportedly pain-free in the day leading up to the Lecce match, but the manager and the club opted against risking him against Lecce with an eye on the Champions League clash against AC Milan. Spalletti will spend the weekend hoping his talisman is fit enough to run the Milan backline ragged once more.


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