Since the departure of Diego Maradona in the early nineties, few football-mad cities have been desperate as for a hero as Naples. When Napoli’s president Aurelio de Laurentis completed the signing of Edinson Cavani three seasons ago, few could have predicted what they would witness and what sort of impact the Uruguayan would have.
In the last three seasons, the 26-year-old has developed from a mobile, hard-working, second striker into arguably one of the world’s best strikers, as deadly from inside the box as from outside it.
Cavani’s transformation from a ‘sort of’ South American Dirk Kuyt into Neapolitans’ latest hero has been nothing short of incredible and has seen the Uruguyan being linked with a host of different clubs ahead of this summer’s transfer window, who aren’t likely to be deterred by Cavani’s £54m release clause.
Chelsea and Real Madrid are reportedly the front-runners in the chase for Napoli’s number 7, but with both Manchester clubs also keen to get their hands on one of Europe’s most prolific striker, this could be quite a summer for the Uruguayan.
Since arriving in Naples, every season Cavani has given a massive return scoring 33, 33 and 38 goals respectively in all competitions, spearheading Walter Mazzarri’s men surge up the table, as Napoli began to entertain Scudetto dreams for the first time in two decades.
Juventus’ efficiency and Napoli’s own shortcomings meant that those dreams were to remain unfulfilled and prompted Cavani to admit that he feels the time is right for him to move on to a bigger club.
Cavani’s aerial strength and excellent technique would make him a perfect partner for Sergio Aguero at Manchester City, while Jose’ Mourinho’s favoured formation involves a potent target man, a role in which Cavani has thrived at Napoli.
The Uruguayan’s repertoire is as complete as that of any other striker. If a pattern has emerged throughout Cavani’s goalscoring exploits at Napoli it’s that there’s no pattern at all, for the Uruguayan has scored tap-ins, headers, long-range strikes and free-kicks.
Real Madrid’s new manager Carlo Ancelotti is a well-known admirer of the Uruguayan striker and the prospect of Cavani linking up with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel Di Maria and Isco et al is enough to get Real Madrid fans moist with anticipation.
A move to Spain would also minimise any potential issues deriving from a cultural leap, while playing in a league where teams don’t place as much emphasis on tactical defending as Serie A clubs could make life even easier for the Uruguayan, even if Cavani is a striker more than capable to look after himself.
Serie A defenders have resorted to some very debatable measure to limit “El Matador”‘s influence, none more so than Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, who resorted to pulling Cavani’s hair last season, only for the Napoli striker to elbow him in the face.
That’s not to say that Cavani is a dirty player, nor one who seems likely to cause controversy every time he steps on a pitch, like his countryman Luis Suarez, but the Napoli striker isn’t a shrinking violet either and would undoubtedly cope well even with the physicality of the Premier League.
Ironically, given that Cavani’s problem at Napoli has been the relative lack of an adequate supporting cast, doubts persist about the Uruguayan’s ability to excel when he’s not the team’s focal point on the pitch.
During his three seasons at Palermo, in which he wasn’t deployed as main striker, Cavani scored 34 goals in 108 league games, while he’s netted 78 in 104 Serie A appearance since joining Napoli, where he’s spearheaded the Azzurri’s frontline supported by Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi (before the Argentine’s departure for PSG).
In contrast, the Uruguayan’s goalscoring record for his national team is rather paltry when compared to his efforts for Napoli.
Cavani’s goal against Brazil in the Confederations Cup semifinal was only his second in a major tournament with Uruguay since he netted in the 2010 World Cup third spot playoff against Germany, with many arguing that Cavani’s influence is somewhat limited by playing alongside Forlan and Suarez.
Whichever club he joins in the summer, Cavani might not be the main man but the Uruguayan ‘s thirst for trophies and humbleness are such that he’ll be the last to be bothered by that.
Cavani’s 2012-13 Serie A season in numbers.
|Minutes per Goal||102.8|
|Chances Created (inc. assists)||31|