By Johnny Edward
Ademola Lookman is confident catching and surpassing his compatriot Victor Osimhen in the race for the Serie A topscorer award this season, Saturday PUNCH reports.
Lookman who is Serie A’s second highest scorer this season after notching 11 goals in 18 games, making him the second most prolific scorer in the league behind Nigeria team-mate Victor Osimhen who has notched 13 for league leaders Napoli.
When asked of his chances finishing ahead Osimhen, the 25-year-old told The Athletic, “No, not when he’s above you, anyway” laughs Lookman.
“I will catch him (Osimhen). Not I might, I will.”
The Nigerian international also revealed that Leicester City made no secret of his desire to sign him permanently but the club’s finances made that difficult.
They needed to sell before they could buy and weren’t getting any offers for players. Ultimately, Lookman was left to decide his own future.
“I had a few offers in England and I was thinking, ‘what do I really need next season?,” he continued.
“I sat down with my family and with Atalanta coming in, we just made up our minds that this was another stage in the journey that we need to go through because we felt like it was important that there was another layer added to me.”
His initial conversations with the Italian club convinced him it was the right move.
“Everything was about attacking football,”he added.
“Some of their results last season, they would win 6-5, or 5-4. That in itself was telling me it’s attacking football. It’s what you want to play football for. So that was a plus. And also, the manager (Gian Piero
Gasperini), he’s an intelligent individual. What he’s done at the club is amazing, taking the team into the Champions League and just the way he envisions football was something I haven’t seen before.”
Gasperini has been at the club since 2016 – an impressive stint by Serie A’s hire ‘em, fire ‘em standards. Lookman is full of praise for the 64-year-old who he says has given him the space to express himself on the pitch. “But that’s still within the structure of the team” he caveats. “Because everything is factored towards the way the team plays and how you can be a factor for the team.
“That was one of the first conversations I had with him. He was telling me how I can impose my qualities on the team to help them get better. And when he put it to me in that way — that’s a way that’s never been put to me before. Maybe it has, but I didn’t really understand it at that time. But now it’s like, ‘I get what you’re saying’”
Gasperini, or ‘Mister’ as Lookman calls him is the strictest manager he says he’s ever had.
“A very hard man. It was a new way of learning for me. I started to think about the game differently. I just knew what he expected from me.”
“The best players know what they have to do. And it’s not because they have a strict manager or they don’t have a strict manager, but they know what to do, and they’re focused on executing. That’s a key word: Executing. It’s a decisive word. And that decisiveness is something I’m keying into and learning.”
“Executing” is a word that comes up at various points during our time together. As is “mindset.” When asked why he feels things have come together in such a positive way for him on the pitch in Italy, Lookman first praises the club for giving him “the platform, the minutes,” but he also talks about a feeling that everything — on and off the pitch — finally feels right. “Since I first came into professional football, it’s been up and down. Now, for the first time in my career, everything that I’m doing is coming together. Whether that’s work away from training or whatever I have planned for myself, it’s all piecing together and it’s all working for me.”
Source: The Punch