Bellingham smokescreen could help Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or Man Utd secure Haaland upgrade

Matthew Stead
Arsenal target Victor Osimhen

The summer of 2023 was supposed to belong to Jude Bellingham but the Dortmund midfielder may have to share the spotlight with Arsenal target Victor Osimhen.


It was supposed to be the summer of Jude, the transfer window in which the brilliant teenager stepped up for his hard-earned turn on the Borussia Dortmund conveyor belt.

Bellingham has waited patiently as the gilded bricks of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland were carefully removed from the Yellow Wall and sold to the highest bidder. Only on both occasions, their ultimate destinations had long since been suspected: Man Utd ‘forced’ Dortmund to accept a £110m fee a year before they signed the former and the Etihad was always a planned stop on the latter’s meticulous career map.

The difference this time is the presence of more than one viable suitor. The queue for Bellingham has grown steadily over the last couple of years and come season’s end all etiquette will be abandoned. There will be pushing and shoving and cutting in line. But while Europe’s finest and most financially flamboyant continue to flutter their eyelashes at England’s midfield fix-all, Victor Osimhen has tried his utmost to redirect their gaze.

“A lot of people worldwide consider the Premier League as the best and the strongest league but now I’m in one of the best leagues in the world which is the Italian Serie A,” said the current Capocannoniere leader, his 19 goals trailing only Haaland’s 27 in Europe’s top five leagues.

“I’m working so hard to make sure that I achieve my dream of playing in the Premier League some day,” he added. “But like I said, it’s a process and I just want to keep on this momentum and continue to do well.”

The mere mention of the word “process” triggered a deep-rooted compulsion in the mind of Mikel Arteta; Arsenal have come from nowhere to supposedly lead the Osimhen race.

But there will be no procession. Bellingham may have to share the summer transfer spotlight with a player of similarly distinctive calibre, another capable of individually solving the difficult equation of an entire position and commanding the singular focus of Europe’s elite. Osimhen is a centre-forward panacea and Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are known to be interested in at least trying to delay the inevitable conceptualisation of a Premier League “dream” that Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd, Newcastle and others want to share.

The Nigerian is a crushingly rare commodity: that blend of smart positioning, electric movement, ludicrous athleticism, exceptional finishing, wonderful hold-up play and tireless pressing is potent. It feels like the laboratory tests which helped construct the ultimate goalscorer in Haaland were run again but modified slightly to produce Osimhen, the perfect dynamic modern striker who might not score at quite the same unfathomable rate, but who does the other stuff better and can adapt to different systems instead of needing everything built around and geared towards him.

Osimhen is essentially a younger and theoretically more attainable Harry Kane – although that comparison will be ruined when he soon helps Napoli make their long-awaited Scudetto a mathematical certainty, winning the first trophy of his career in the process.

The Champions League could feasibly follow; Chelsea have removed Bellingham from that stage for the time being but Osimhen can replace him in that temporary shop window before they both compete for attention at the end of the season. It was assumed that the world’s leading clubs would put aside a nine-figure sum to sort their midfield issues with one deal but Osimhen might use that smokescreen and slipstream to secure his own record move.