Osimhen, Lille finds Pepé's heir - Corriere dello Sport

Osimhen, Lille finds Pepé's heir - Corriere dello Sport

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Nigerian, 20, grew up in Lagos and played in Belgium in Charleroi. It was discovered by sports director Luis Campos: he conceded two goals in Ligue 1 to replace the forward that Arsenal blew at Napoli

ROME - An almost financial relationship between Milan, Lille and Mr. Paul Elliott Singer, 75 years old on August 22, American from New York, has generated an estimated wealth of 3.2 billion dollars, a family of Jewish origin, pharmacist father and housewife mother, two brothers and a law degree at Harvard. The Elliott fund governs Milan and has increased its stake (9.5%) in Telecom Italia, but it has also been decisive for the rescue of Lille: without Singer's help, the French club would have been demoted automatically in Ligue 2 by DNCG, the supervisory commission of the French federation. At the end of May, the Elliott fund buffered a debt volume of nearly 250 million. He prevented President Gerard Lopez from taking the books to court and that Lille slipped from second to last in the standings, thus renouncing the qualification for the Champions League. The repayment plan envisaged by the Elliott fund, to cover the recent recapitalization, will have to be completed in three years.

ASSIGNMENTS - Lille has limited maneuvering autonomy. The sporting director is Luis Campos, Portuguese, who Roma had contacted in the spring with the idea of ​​giving him the Monchi armchair, returned to Sevilla. He is not only the director of the market and one of the most esteemed talent-scouts on an international level, but above all he is the mind of the Elliott fund. And he is the man who in forty-five days, between July and mid-August, piloted a series of outgoing operations that allowed Lille to cash 145 million: 80 for Nicolas Pepé (chased by Naples and taken by Arsenal), 25 for Rafael Leão (passed to Milan, always controlled by the Elliott fund), 22 for Thiago Mendes (hired by Olympique Lyon), 9 for Anwar El Ghazi (purchased by Aston Villa, newly promoted in the Premier League) and 9 for Youssouf Koné ( always flown to Olympique Lyon). The coach, Christophe Galtier, remained in great harmony with Luis Campos and rose to the chair in Lille with his 4-2-3-1, just as he had managed to do in the eight years spent on the Saint-Etienne bench.

THE ROUTE - Luis Campos has created a virtuous circle. Sell ​​to restore the budget. And to buy in reasonable numbers with the aim of planning new capital gains: here is the logical path of a Lille that starts again in Ligue 1 after the emotions of last season, when it has been able to overturn every prediction and placed behind Paris Saint Germain, champion for the sixth time in the last seven championships, but beaten 5-1 by the Galtier team in the second round (14 April): a lesson to Thomas Tuchel, who also risked the exoneration, a majestic game in front of Thiago Silva and Verratti, Dani Akves and Mbappé.

YAZICI AND OSIMHEN - Luis Campos is the guarantor of the Elliott fund: he disassembled and rebuilt Lille following a rapid interlocking game. He spent sixty million, closed the market with a positive sign of almost ninety million. Lazio anticipated Yusuf Yazici, born in 1997, on Turkish midfielder, who paid sixteen million at Trabzonspor: the manager Tare had thought of this midfielder as the ideal heir of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Yazici has the stuff of talent, has the watermark of the predestined: he immediately distinguished himself in the twenty-two minutes in which he was employed last Sunday, on the occasion of the comeback victory (2-1) against Nantes. He touched a free-kick goal and delighted the new fans with a series of playstation passes. Yazici was the most expensive investment supported by Campos, which also convinced the PSG to sell him the art son Timothy Weah, left wing, for ten million. But the most urgent issue to be resolved was the replacement of Pepé, 24, Ivorian, twenty-two goals and eleven assists in the past championship, which preferred the Premier League and Arsenal to Napoli's offer.

IN BELGIUM - Campos found Pepé's impersonator in Belgium: he showed up in the Charleroi offices and closed the negotiation for the Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen, which cost twelve million and ready to sign a contract until 2024. A sweet, soft race , from athletic tracks: dribbling, shooting, blonde crest, progression, shooting (especially right). But also fantasy, elegance, muscles. He is one meter and 85 meters tall, he was born in Lagos on 29 December 1998: from the Ultimate Strikers football school in Wolfsburg, until last summer's loan at Charleroi, where he scored nineteen goals between the championship and the play-off, enchanting in the team coached by the Italian-Belgian Felice Mazzu.

REAL MADRID - Osimhen had been followed by Milan and Atalanta also liked him, but Lille had already gained a leading position and waited for Charleroi to redeem him for three and a half million from Wolfsburg to define the deal. And the debut in Ligue 1 of Osimhen, third with Nigeria in the last edition of the Africa Cup, was a surprise package with the red bow: one-two, standing ovation, a place in the Top 11 of the newspaper "L'Euqipe" , perfect agreement in 4-2-3-1 with Jonathan Ikoné (1998), Timothy Weah (2000) and Jonathan Bamba (1996), two actions almost photocopied to mark Alban Lafont, who arrived at Nantes on loan from Fiorentina. He won an Under 17 World Cup with Nigeria in 2015 in Chile, closing the tournament also with the title of top scorer (10 goals and two assists in the national team coached by Emmanuel Amuneke). He erased the memory of Pepé. The last player to make his debut with a brace in Lille was Nolan Roux, on January 28th 2012, against Saint-Etienne. He dedicated his magic day to his father: "He is sick, it is the only treasure I have left in my country since I lost my mother. This wonderful moment is for him, it will make him a little stronger, "the Nigerian striker, often compared in the course of his career to Didier Drogba, told the newspaper" La Voix du Nord ". The dream? Playing one day for Real Madrid, as he confessed some time ago in front of the microphones of Rtbf, Belgian TV.