Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis was in a state of deep despair at the end of the 2009-10 season following the side’s dismal show in the Serie-A. Napoli finished 6th on the league table with just 59 points, trailing league champions Inter Milan by 23 points despite investing a record sum for the services of talented striker Fabio Quagliarella. The local lad failed to make his presence felt racking a tally of just 11 league goals at the end of the season.
The attack was in a state of tatters with a distinct lack of quality which had to be addressed as soon as possible. Quagliarella was clearly unfit to don the club’s colours which the president had long realised. In such a bleak scenario, De Laurentiis decided to take a decision which had every chance of backfiring by investing in the services of Palermo youngster Edinson Cavani who was hailed as the next big thing in world football. Cavani was handed the centre stage after being signed on loan comprising of an option to buy with Fabio Quagliarella shipped off to Juventus on a permanent deal.
The gamble paid off rich dividends with the Uruguayan striker going on to emerge as a fan-favourite on the back of his lethal finishing and game-changing abilities, drawing comparisons to none other than club legend Diego Maradona. Cavani went on to score 26 goals in his debut season emerging as the highest league goal-scorer in Napoli’s rich history.
The striker who was nicknamed El Matador at Palermo delivered performances which helped the side finish 3rd on the league table, enjoying UCL qualification for the first time since the retirement of club legend Diego Maradona. The striker went on to enthral the fans with his excellent gameplay and consistent performances over the years before finally joining French giants Paris St Germain for a record fee of €64 million in July 2013. Cavani’s ability to emerge as a matchwinner with his passionate and clinical gameplay helped Napoli finish 2nd on the league table at the end of the 2012/13 campaign, their highest finish since the Scudetto win in 1990. The Uruguayan striker enjoyed a teary farewell from the fans who were sad to witness the departure of a footballer who had earned their love and affection with his ruthless goal-scoring displays, racking an impressive tally of 104 goals in just 138 matches.
However, things were hardly going to be as easy at the French capital with controversial striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic enjoying the centre stage and utmost confidence of manager Laurent Blanc. Cavani was expected to contribute by setting the game up for the Swedish striker which was hardly the role he enjoyed at Napoli. The striker took this in his stride contributing with 25 goals in 43 appearances at the end of his debut season which is quite spectacular considering his absence for 1 month due to a thigh injury.
However, the ex-Napoli striker sadly failed to sustain this form in his second season after being consistently deployed out wide by Blanc. The Uruguayan had clearly lost his mojo and clinical prowess in front of goal with a distinct droop in efficiency noted by the critics. Despite the criticism and negativity, Cavani kept his head down, winning the hearts of the supporters with his incredible work rate and defensive mentality while contributing to his utmost in attack.
His intensity and passion for the game earned praise and appreciation from none other than star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic with whom he enjoyed a prolific partnership. Ibrahimovic hailed Cavani as an all-round footballer who could defend and earn possession after dropping in midfield, deliver a tempting ball from the wings and ensure selfless gameplay through thick and thin.
The 31-year-old has emerged as a senior figure at the club following Ibrahimovic’s exit, in his favoured central role with youngsters Neymar and Kylian Mbappe on the wings. Cavani’s experience can play a key role in Neymar’s transition into a mature, consistent footballer with teenage sensation Mbappe crediting the senior striker for his development as a footballer as well. The Uruguayan is currently the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer with 157 goals in just 229 games, despite featuring down the flanks frequently in the past. The striker from Palermo has emerged as a legendary figure at Paris St Germain with his work-rate, dedication and intense passion over the years. A victorious campaign in Europe this season would certainly add the missing jewel in the crown.
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