There is something about strikers with long hair I don’t like, in fact any footballer with long hair for that matter – I wouldn’t want to be accused of discriminating. For me, one of the worst sights you can see at a football match is an opposing striker galloping through on goal with some sort of flowing mane following him as he goes-that sight usually means one thing…GOAL! Napoli striker Edinson Cavani is one such striker.
Go back three seasons or so and everyone but the Football Manager addicts amongst us would ask the question ‘Edi-who?’ on hearing the name Edinson Cavani. Fast forward to now and Cavani’s stock has risen, as he has become one of the most converted strikers in world football. Cavani has grown from a young pup finding his way in a dog-eat-dog football world, to a tough Doberman who chases goals for fun.
Cavani has made steady progress season-after-season since he was first given a chance with Uruguayan club Danubio, but it was for Uruguay’s under-20′s during the South American Youth Championships in Paraguay where he really took his opportunity to shine. Cavani set the tournament alight, notching 7 goals in 9 games, as a 19-year-old Cavani announced himself to scouts worldwide. After the tournament success, it didn’t take long for him to get a move as Italian side Palermo snapped him up, gaving him the opportunity to play and improve in Europe. Cavani impressed at Palermo – in his final season (2009-10) he finished with 15 goals, forming a potent partnership with the experienced Fabrizio Miccoli and helping Palermo to a 5th place league finish.
Cavani’s current club Napoli got a rude awakening to his talents after he scored in the open game of the 2009-10 season for Palermo against the Naples outfit. Cavani popped up just before half-time to turn the tide of a game that Napoli had dominated in the first half. An attacking 3, made up of debutant Javier Pastore, Miccoli and Cavani, were the difference in the second-half as Cavani won a second half penalty that sealed the game and the points for the Sicilians. Napoli and Palermo spent the season battling each other to qualify for the Europa league, but it was the Miccoli/Cavani 32-goal partnership that proved to be the difference between the two sides as Palermo finished ahead of Napoli in fifth place. Napoli saw the understanding Cavani formed with Miccoli and Pastore and knew he would be the perfect compliment to the skills of Marek Hamšík and Ezequiel Lavezzi, so Cavani was snapped him up in the summer of 2010 on a 5-year contract.
Napoli have been slowly rebuilding the club’s reputation and Serie A status since bankruptcy in 2004 and Cavani was seen as a striker that could take them to another level. A more business-savvy Napoli saw Cavani as the ideal investment who would only improve and grow in value playing with the attacking talents of Hamšík and Lavezzi. Now Napoli can be confident of getting at least €50m for Cavani this summer as he is tracked by Europe’s leading sides.
Cavani will again lineup against one of his suitors tonight as Napoli take on Chelsea in the second leg of their Champions League tie. Chelsea know what a devastating attacking threat Cavani can be after he breached the Chelsea defence by scoring in the first leg and also gave Gary Cahill a harsh introduction to life in the Champions League. In Chelsea’s eyes, Cavani would be an ideal replacement for Didier Drogba and real competition for the impotent Fernando Torres. Cavani has it all; strong on the ground and in the air, can score any type of goal, he has great movement and has the composure any top striker needs. Chelsea will face stiff competition from the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City if they want to sign the Uruguayan this summer, but no one would be surprised to see Cavani make the move to either Real Madrid or even more likely Barcelona.
This seasons Champions League has marked the true coming of age of Edinson Cavani. He finds himself joint third top scorer in the competition on 5 goals, ahead of the likes of van Persie, Drogba, and Ronaldo. It has taken time for Cavani to get his chance to prove his worth in Europe’s top competition, but soon he will undoubtedly be dominating the Champions League on a seasonal basis. Chelsea could be taught a harsh lesson by Cavani & Co. tonight, all eyes will be on John Terry to see if he can contain him, but if we are lucky we will soon be seeing such tussles on a regular basis as Cavani is destined for the very top and hopefully the Premier League.