Victor Osimhen’s former agent Jean-Gérard Benoit Czajka, in this interview with Francefootball.fr speaks about the whole proceedings in the protracted transfer of the Super Eagles striker from Losc Lille to Napoli, explaining how he was disenged as the the player’s representative. He however remains adamant on going to court to seek justice.
How many years have you worked with Victor Osimhen?
Officially, I signed my first mandate with him and his father, I think he was 16 years old, it was well before the 2015 World Cup in Chile where he had soared. In fact, I had been working with him since the age of 14 with my partners.
How did you know him?
It is thanks to my associates in Nigeria. It is especially Shira Yussuf (Editor’s note: one of them) who discovered him at the age of 14, he told me about him very quickly. Thereafter, we had our contacts with Emmanuel Amunike, then coach of the country’s U17s. He told us: “Go see this little youngster, he’s a phenomenon”. By that insistence, he moved, we saw him and gave him a chance.
How was his arrival in Europe?
Before the 2015 World Cup, it had been offered all over Europe but to no avail … And then after the 2015 World Cup, everyone called me because it could have left Africa in a very affordable price but when it exploded in Chile, it inevitably skyrocketed. Finally, I got him signed when he came of age in Wolfsburg, Charleroi then in Lille, and finally 99% in Naples …
What happened that you weren’t by his [Osimhen’s] side until the last moment?
Good question … With my partner (Editor’s note: Didier Fresnay), when everything was going to happen, we were suddenly dismissed, to be replaced by a new agent (Editor’s note: William D’Avila) … July 13 in the morning , Victor asks me to accompany him to Naples to finalize everything. I said, “Ok”, but my flight to Naples was finally full and I couldn’t get there. Fortunately, moreover, because Lille had chartered him a private flight to go to Sardinia, to Olbia, where the 2 presidents were present. He couldn’t sign without me.
How did you react ?
My lawyers sent an email to Victor, Naples [Napoli] and LOSC. And on July 14, I in turn received an email “stopping abruptly and without cause” my contract of representation of Victor Osimhen which was in effect until January 2021. While the two clubs had agreed on the terms of the transfer weeks before, and all the details of Victor’s contract were known, the player had his medical visit in Rome during the week. Which is no doubt that his contract was signed with Napoli …
“Victor did not want to go to Italy”
He told me that racism issues scared him and that he didn’t feel it. He even told me in March-April: “I don’t want to go and play in Italy, even if it’s for Juventus at €10 million net per year”.
Precisely one of the reasons given in the press for your exclusion would be bonuses negotiated on a personal basis. What do you have to answer that?
These are nonsense that he put in the head of the player. We have writings from Napoli, there is a guaranteed commission that we received by email from Mr. Giuntoli (Editor’s note: the Sporting Director of Napoli) of €5M for the work done, which constitutes about 8% of the total gross contract negotiated. We are far from the negotiated personal bonuses as declared by Victor in the press!
Obviously I am aware that this may seem important to ordinary people, but it is a work of many years, of personal sacrifices which have resulted today in making Victor Osimhen the player he is, and which has the value it has in the market! And when everything is going to be realized, we are removed, to put a new agent!
Can you tell us the behind the scenes negotiations with the Serie A club?
We have been in contact with them since March. With the Covid, we finally managed to see each other at the end of May, at the beginning of June in Monaco with Giuntoli and then we moved with the player at the beginning of July in Naples.
To be clear, if we go to Italy it is because the two clubs have been in agreement for a long time and they told us so. I think that Lille did not appreciate that Victor comes and comes back without having signed his contract. The club had a bit of a knife under its throat with the transition to the DNCG.
Did you conduct all the discussions with Napoli?
Yes, and to be honest, Victor did not want to go to Italy. From the start, he had been stuck on the idea of playing in Serie A. He told me that racism issues scared him and that he didn’t feel it. He even told me in March-April: “I don’t want to go and play in Italy even if it’s for Juventus at €10 million net per year”.
How did you manage to convince him?
I told Victor that before having such strong ideas, that he had to travel to see for himself, meet people, talk with players who are confronted with racism, etc. … Something that we finally did on July 1, 2 and 3 when we met the coach, the sports director, as well as the president De Laurentiis who is a man with values and experience, and who seems to have convinced the player. Victor also spoke a lot with Kalidou Koulibaly and this was decisive in his choice for Napoli.
And then, we imagine that there is also the financial aspect …
Yes, it must also be said, when a big club like Naples offers you the post of holder, with a contract of around €30m net of taxes (over 6 years), it helps to make a positive decision at 21!
While you explain to us that for you everything is recorded, the transfer of the player is not yet official. How do you analyze this fact?
What I understand is that we are trying to justify “the work” of the “new agent”, having resumed negotiations from the start. I am in a hurry to discover the final contract signed by Victor, and to compare it with what we had mentioned with Napoli in writing. Especially since the morning of July 13, Luis Campos and Gérard Lopez contacted me by phone, strongly recommending that I negotiate with this new agent, otherwise, according to them, “I risked losing everything …” For me, he signed on the 14th, 15th or 16th. You can’t buy a €60 million player by having him undergo his medical examination without having already signed his contract.
You know Victor Osimhen well, do you think he really understands everything that is happening around him?
There is a lot of pressure. He certainly lost his footing. There’s this William D’Avila who must have been wooing him for a while. Maybe he explained to him that he could get him a better deal. I see him on July 9 in Paris to make a point, on the 13th, he tells me to take the plane to join him while the new agent is there … It is not possible because it is us who did all the work. And, we do not go twice to Naples, more exactly to Sardinia, without signing.
What is your position regarding a possible conciliation?
We have always worked honestly with Victor, which many agents cannot say, we are within our rights. And if we have to go to court to keep face, we’ll go … I would add that in my opinion, we do not go before an organization as serious as the DNCG without providing evidence that the operation of “flagship” sale of the summer will be formalized. We are quiet. My lawyers have all the documents on the work done. I will therefore assert my rights in court. Afterwards, it is very likely that I can be offered an arrangement, which I will not accept.
You have known Victor since the age of 14, from a human point of view, do you feel any bitterness after so many years being with him?
This isn’t the first time this has happened in football, and it won’t be the last time though. I am lucky to be a structured person and to have a little resources, so I will go to the end, if only for all these agents who are victims of similar situations but who cannot defend themselves and who lose the fruit of all their labor for years … ”
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