<
>

Osimhen silences the critics, Sarr makes up for lost time

play
Marcotti: Osimhen will be one of Europe's top strikers (0:48)

Gab and Juls discuss Victor Osimhen's standout performance in Napoli's 2-0 win over Cagliari in Serie A. (0:48)

Victor Osimhen continued his magnificent recent form with a goal and an assist as Napoli defeated Cagliari to move to the pinnacle of Serie A this weekend, prompting the question: Is he Africa's top striker in world football today?

Elsewhere, Ismaila Sarr continues to make up for lost time upon his return to the Premier League, while Congolese forward Yoane Wissa wrote his name into Brentford folklore.

Be under no illusion, that Super Eagles striker Osimhen came into this season under pressure.

Upon his arrival at Napoli from LOSC Lille in 2020, the striker was talked up by Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick, who suggested that the youngster could surpass the impact made by Diego Maradona at the San Paolo.

An ambitious prophesy at the very least, and certainly, Osimhen rarely came close to justifying his €80 million transfer fee last season, let alone emulate El Pibe de Oro in Campania.

10 goals in 24 league outings was an encouraging - if modest - return, particularly for the outlay, and Napoli's underwhelming campaign, coupled with the departure of mentor Gennaro Gattuso further raised the stakes for their big-money investment.

An early red card against Venezia this season -- later overturned -- represented an unwanted setback, but since that frustration, Osimhen has enjoyed a remarkable goalscoring run.

He impressed in the 2-1 victory over Juventus -- without netting -- and followed that up with six in his next four, including doubles against Leicester City in the Europa League and Sampdoria last Thursday.

On Sunday, he again excelled, opening the scoring in the 11th minute to send Luciano Spalletti's men on their way to a 2-0 triumph over Cagliari as they extend their 100 percent record this season.

The ex-AS Roma boss has previously got the best out of several talented strikers -- Francesco Totti, Alex Kerzhakov, Edin Dzeko and Mauro Icardi -- and Osimhen appears to be the next in line to benefit from his magic touch.

Already, Osimhen has six goals across Serie A and the Europa League this season -- only four fewer than he managed in the entirety of 2020-21 -- yet his performance beyond the goals also offers massive reason for encouragement.

His tussle with the grizzled Diego Godin was a real measuring stick of his progress, with Osimhen demonstrating aggression, aerial prowess and intelligence of movement to thwart the veteran centre-back.

His decision-making looks notably sharper, with Osimhen aware of when to bring other players into the game - he created one clear goalscoring opportunity - and when to beat a man with the ball at his feet - twice he got in behind the backline.

It was Osimhen who was directly responsible for Napoli's second goal as well -- forcing Godin to bring him down in the box before Lorenzo Insigne stepped up to convert the resulting spot kick.

"It's right that he enjoys this moment," legendary Juventus defender Ciro Ferrara told DAZN, as per Tutto Napoli. "He really played a great game, putting important defenders like Godin in difficulty."

- Tolu Arokodare regaining form, confidence in France

Defeated Cagliari manager Walter Mazzarri was also gushing in his praise of the striker after Osimhen gave his centre-backs such a miserable time on Sunday, acknowledging that he struggled to prepare his defence to contain the 21-year-old.

"Osimhen is phenomenal because he runs alone at five players and gets through," Mazzarri told DAZN. "We intentionally kept a deep defensive line because if we pushed higher like the other teams, we'd concede four or five like they did with Osimhen able to run into space."

After a maiden season in Italy fraught with complication, the youngster appears to have finally found his verve -- and his momentum -- in Southern Italy, and as his working relationship with Spalletti develops, expect the goals to flow.

While Mohamed Salah already has five goals to Osimhen's four, the only African player - operating as a centre-forward -- to have eclipsed the Nigerian in Europe's five major leagues so far this season is Amine Gouiri of OGC Nice, who struck his fifth of the campaign against Saint-Etienne on Saturday.

Credit must also go to Napoli's Cameroon loanee Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, whose influential midfield displays are fuelling genuine hope that the Partenopei could end their three-decade wait for an Italian crown.

Over in the Premier League, Sarr maintained his fine recent run of form with his fourth goal in six games as Watford came from behind to take a point at home from Newcastle United.

Sean Longstaff had given the Magpies the lead at Vicarage Road, before Sarr, unmarked at the back post, met Joshua King's flick-on to head the ball past the stranded Karl Darlow 18 minutes from time.

He now has four in six in the Premier League, with Saturday's effort coming on the back of a double against Norwich City and a goal in the 3-2 victory over Aston Villa in mid-August.

Newcastle remain winless, whereas Watford -- with Sarr looking menacing throughout to open up a cagey contest -- are appearing well equipped to weather the storm this season.

Emmanuel Dennis was withdrawn with 16 minutes remaining after a wasteful display, while William Troost-Ekong, Peter Etebo and Jeremy Ngakia also featured for the Hornets.

Yet it is Sarr, who remained with the club following their relegation in 2020, who deserves the plaudits.

Back in 2019-20 he showed glimpses of his class in the Prem, but after toughening up in the Championship -- and further adapting to the English game -- he's already only one goal off his five-goal haul for his maiden season in the top flight.

Elsewhere, Wilfried Zaha, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Abdoulaye Doucoure were all among the goals for Crystal Palace, Arsenal and Everton this weekend, while Maxwel Cornet marked his full PL debut with a goal for Burnley against Leicester City, before he was withdrawn with a hamstring problem.

The most memorable African contribution in the Prem this weekend, however, came from Brentford's Yoane Wissa, who came off the bench to net the equaliser in the Bees' dramatic 3-3 draw with high-flying Liverpool.

Salah had already scored one - tying him on five goals with Jamie Vardy and Michail Antonio -- and missed another golden opportunity before Wissa, a summer arrival from FC Lorient, ensured the points were shared.

Only four minutes after entering the fray, Wissa demonstrated remarkable composure to lift the ball over Alisson from close range after the Reds failed to clear their lines, ensuring the spoils were shared in the sides' first league meeting since 1947.

In Spain, Youssef En-Nesyri was Africa's star performer this weekend, firing Sevilla to third in the Spanish top flight when he opened the scoring against Espanyol.

The Morocco forward broke the deadlock in the 13th minute with a typically smart finish -- his third goal in six games -- as Sevilla extend their unbeaten run.

En-Nesyri's latest showing will surely fuel transfer talk linking him with a move to Arsenal in 2022, with the North African reportedly piquing the interest of Gunners boss Mikel Arteta.

In Germany, Mali's Amadou Haidara made it two goals in two with a strike in RasenBallsport Leipzig's 6-0 rout of Hertha Berlin, while Idrissa Gueye was yet again among the goals -- his third strike in five Ligue 1 outings so far this season -- as Paris Saint-Germain dispatched Montpellier 2-0.

Even so early in the season, the Senegal midfielder is already enjoying his finest scoring season since netting four in 32 for LOSC Lille in 2014-15, and he's clearly flourishing under the tutelage of Mauricio Pochettino.