NAPOLI manager Rudi Garcia believes Victor Osimhen’s love for the club has not diminished even after the Super Eagles striker was mocked in a distasteful TikTok video posted by the club’s official account.
The Nigeria international shook off the controversy last night to score one of the goals in Napoli’s 4-1 Serie A victory over Bologna, although he did not celebrate as enthusiastically as he normally does.
Garcia was asked if he had thanked Osimhen for scoring the goal and rediscovering his smile.
“I complimented him, which is different. I have had a very good rapport with Victor since the moment I arrived,” he told DAZN in his post-match interview.
“I am happy because he scored a goal and centre forwards always want to score goals. He was unlucky hitting the crossbar and upright in the last few games, but I told him to stay focused on the game.
“Technically, he provided an assist today, because I had named him as the penalty taker this evening. I do not take someone off penalty duties if they make a mistake, but he decided to give that assist to Zielinski.”
The Frenchman said he hoped the club Napoli can put the TikTok drama behind them after Osimhen and struggling Kvicha Kvaratskhelia struck against Udinese.
It was a tense situation going into last night’s match at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, with some fans and media calling for the Garcia to be fired.
Osimhen confronted the coach over a substitution, and then threatened legal action against the club over the TikTok video mocking his missed penalty against Bologna.
“Don’t you worry about me, I have some experience, I’ve got broad shoulders, I’ll be fine,” the former Lyon manager said.
“I am happy for the lads, we really enjoyed seeing this Napoli side control the game, create many chances and push harder to turn good fortune our way.
“For example, Kvara hit the woodwork twice, but he got the goal eventually. He was fantastic tonight, as he also earned a penalty, provided an assist, but the important thing is that he scored after all that and it means a lot about his mentality.
“Now that he has scored, I think it will take a big weight off his shoulders. I had spoken to him for a long time, told him not to think about it too much, to just enjoy his football. There are few players who can take men on the way he can, we encourage him to do that and when he plays with joy, everything is fine.
“The only negative aspect of the evening is that we conceded a goal, even if it was a great goal from Samardzic. We won at home, but importantly won the way we wanted to win.”
On the Osimhen situation, Garcia assured the Nigeria international that nobody meant him any harm while still supporting the striker’s reaction to the humiliating video.
“In Bologna we were all frustrated at not winning and he was even more after missing a penalty, so that can happen. We cleared the air, it all went back to normal,” Garcia said, referring to Osimhen’s outburst when he was taken off with four minutes left on the clock.
“Over the last two days there was a bit of trouble with some clumsy behaviour. Nobody wanted to be hurtful, not the TikTok with the video of Victor, nor Victor by taking his photographs down on social media. Nobody intended to hurt anyone, these are instinctive reactions and are understandable.
“It is his social media account, he can do what he wants with it. All I can say is that he loves this jersey and will give everything for Napoli this season as well.”