Arsenal could miss out on top target as Saudi club look to pounce in £101m deal

Harry De Cosemo
Victor Osimhen has scored 65 goals in 108 league games for Napoli

Napoli striker and reported Arsenal target Victor Osimhen could be the next big name to move to Saudi Arabia after it emerged that Al-Ahli are planning to pay his release clause at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Osimhen, 25, has proven himself to be one of the best strikers in the world over recent years, reaching double figures for goals in Serie A every year since his move from Lille in 2020. His tally of 26 in 2022/23 helped the club to only their third league title and first since 1990.

But this year hasn’t gone to plan. The club finished 10th and went through three managers; Luciano Spalletti’s departure saw Rudi Garcia arrive before Walter Mazzarri returned for three months and Francesco Calzona finished the campaign in charge. Former Chelsea and Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has since been appointed.

Osimhen set for Saudi?

Although Osimhen still performed fairly well himself, scoring 10 goals, there is an acceptance that he will likely leave the club this summer. The new contract he penned earlier in the season runs until 2026 and contains a 120m euro release clause, and although there has been an expectation that a European club would trigger it, it now appears that there could be competition from the Saudi Pro League.

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Italian publication Il Mattino is reporting the interest and say Osimhen is almost certain to leave Napoli, who it also claims will not negotiate on the price for the player. Osimhen hasn’t agreed to the move but he could now have a decision to make. PSG are said to be keen on him as they look for a replacement for Kylian Mbappe after his move to Real Madrid on a free transfer was confirmed, while Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is said to be an admirer as he searches for a striker.

Were Osimhen to move to Saudi he would be the most expensive transfer, but would join a host of big names in the league. Neymar became Al-Hilal’s star attraction before suffering a knee injury, while Cristiano Ronaldo is the main man at Al-Nassr. Joining Al-Ahli would see Osimhen combine with former Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez.

He has been viewed as one of the league’s biggest targets and it would be a huge statement of intent. Osimhen was voted African Player of the Year in 2023 and he would arguably be the first world superstar to make the switch while at the very top of his game.

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