Roberto Calenda, manager to Super Eagles star, Victor Osimhen has claimed that Barcelona was interested in bringing him to replace Luis Suarez before Napoli sealed a five-year deal believed to be worth up to €80 million with Lille to sign the Nigerian striker.
Osimhen netted 18 competitive strikes last season in France and afer signing for Napoli made an impression by scoring a hat-trick and providing an assist in an 11-0 friendly win over Italian fourth division side L’Aquila during a last Friday.
Calenda has now revealed that Osimhen would have been playing for Barcelona if the Spanish club were more serious.
“I usually never talk about these things, out of respect for professionalism and the club. It is right that Napoli say things as they went, they are the main players,” Calenda told Radio Marte.
“I can say that it was a well-conducted negotiation by the parties, we started from a distance. The signing took place with constant communication and we were good at keeping track of it.
“[It was a] difficult operation, Tottenham and Liverpool wanted Osimhen until the end, even Barcelona initially wanted him instead of Suarez. Napoli, however, did everything. They wanted him and took him.”
Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso stated that Osimhen needs time to gel with his teammates as he is not a Maradona kind of signing and Calenda feels same way.
“The boy [Osimhen] is an exemplary professional, very serious and very serene. This is important when you get to teams where there have been players who have made football history,” Calenda continued.
“The coach’s [Gattuso] words are right: you have to wait and give him time because he comes from far away, he must adapt to our championship and our customs. But without a shadow of a doubt he has great talent and I am sure he will prove it because he has some important characteristics.”