Radamel Falcao, Robert Lewandowski and Edinson Cavani. When analysing the most coveted strikers in European football right now, there are arguments for and against all of them. Recent Monaco signing Falcao has a tireless work rate, is terrific in the air and possesses one of the great knacks in football: predatory finishing. Borussia Dortmund forward Lewandowski is strong with his back to goal, quick for a big man, can shoot off both feet and has an uncanny ability to to pick the right touch, pass or flick. He dovetails perfectly with the attacking trio in behind him. What of Cavani? Well the Napoli number seven has all the attributes of Falcao and Lewandowski rolled into one. Manchester City were originally thought to be the favourites for his signature, but Chelsea have also joined the bidding war.
Cavani began his career at Uruguayan club Danubio. After impressing at the 2007 South American youth championships, he attracted the attention of Italian giant Milan and Juventus. However, he signed for Palermo in January 2007. Initially struggling to make an impact at the ‘Rosanero’, the departure of Amauri to Juve in 2008 cemented Cavani’s place in the first team.
He joined Napoli in 2010 and was in instant success. He scored twice on his debut against Swedish side Elfsborg in the Europa League, scored a dubious goal on his Serie A debut against Fiorentina and notched another on his home debut against Bari. Cavani linked intricately and devastatingly over the next couple of seasons with Marek Hamšík and Ezequiel Lavezzi at the tip of the ‘Azzuri’ attack. They were particularly effective in the Champions League campaign in 2012, where they were overturned by eventual winners Chelsea despite a 3-1 first leg victory. Lavezzi departed to PSG in the summer of 2012, but Cavani surpassed his previous seasons form again. He scored 38 goals in 43 games in 2012/13 and was top scorer in Serie A with 29. In his three years at Napoli, Cavani scored an incredible 104 goals in 138 matches.
Manchester City have already expressed their interest in the Uruguayan colossal. Wounded after Manchester United regained the Premier League title and with Manuel Pellegrini in line to take over from the sacked Roberto Mancini, City are expected to spend. Shakhtar’s Fernandinho and Sevilla winger Jesús Navas have already signed and Málaga wonderkid Isco is another potential transfer. Cavani would surely fit into that makeup, as Pellegrini likes to play with wingers and a forward who can latch onto chances. Cavani would surely also strike up an understanding with David Silva. With City looking to sell Eden Dzeko, a striker is a big priority.
The return of José Mourinho has heralded a new sense of optimism at Chelsea. Mourinho has spoken of evolution rather than revolution, with only one or two signings planned as part of that process. A prolific striker is surely on his radar, and with the Romelu Lukaku potentially heading back out on loan, Cavani is surely his number one target. Cavani is Mourinho’s type of centre forward. Strong, physical and quick, he can also adapt to a number of formations (he is known to drift wide left for Uruguay). He is equally as good with his back to goal as he is running in behind centre backs. The potential of Cavani being supplied ammunition from Juan Mata and Eden Hazard is a scary prospect.
Chelsea have now made their interest concrete with a bid that Napoli have rejected. It looks likely the blues will make another offer. It will be interesting to see if City join in with a bid of their own. Real Madrid may also still want to add Cavani to their side. The reality is, he would fit into any side, any style, any system. He is the complete centre forward. When asked about a potential transfer in April, Cavani said. “Real Madrid, Chelsea and City interested in me? I just think about Napoli.” The time has surely come for him to think about another club, another challenge.