Napoli have been dealt a major blow with the news that star striker Victor Osimhen will miss around three months of action after surgery on his cheekbone and eye socket after he was injured during Sunday's 3-2 Serie A defeat away at Inter Milan.
The Nigeria international is now set to miss key domestic and continental fixtures for the Italian outfit and important international games with Nigeria as the Africa Cup of Nations is now on the line.
"On Tuesday morning, Victor Osimhen was operated on his cheekbone and eye socket by Gianpaolo Tartaro, who was assisted by Dr Mario Santagata with Dr Raffaele Canonico also present," read Napoli's statement. "Titanium plates and screws were used in the operation. The player is doing well and will remain under observation for the next few days. Osimhen is expected to return to action in three months."
The Partenopei's medical update on the 22-year-old barely disguised their bitter disappointment at the news and it is easy to see why it is such a major blow for Luciano Spalletti and his men given his recent form and the team's position.
Napoli are currently level on 32 points with AC Milan in Serie A after both lost over the weekend while they only possess a one-point lead in UEFA Europa League Group C after a slow start but Osimhen's nine goals from his last 12 outings across all competitions have been vital to that.
With Lazio, Atalanta, Leicester City and AC Milan all to come before any potential movement to address the former Lille OSC man's absence in January, who can Spalletti turn to for fresh momentum with Arkadiusz Milik no longer there to step up when fit.
The most likely options
Lorenzo Insigne has already managed five goals across all competitions but is locked in prolonged contract negotiations which do not appear to be close to a conclusion which is a distraction while Hirving Lozano has three goals across domestic and continental competition so neither can considered prolific though they are the two most naturally fitted to move from winger roles inside and take up the bulk of the time.
Which brings into focus the likes of Dries Mertens, Andrea Petagna and Matteo Politano. The former pair have one goal apiece in Serie A and the Europa League after the Belgium international's consolation effort against Inter while the latter has only struck in the league.
Once upon a time, Mertens was Napoli's golden boy and he is still the club's top Serie A scorer, but injuries and age have taken their toll on the once talismanic attacker, and he is no longer the reliable force he once was.
Could it be that Spalletti will be forced to rely on the veteran Mertens? Or could Osimhen's misfortune lead to Aurelio De Laurentiis breaking the deadlock in contract talks with Insigne to end the debate over his future?
Whatever the case, Napoli need a solution or their strong start to this season could be undone by this injury.