Edinson Cavani has been the talking point of several stories recently, with many papers linking him with a summer move to the UK. The Metro reported this week that Juventus’ director general, Giuseppe Marotta, has pulled out of the race to sign the Uruguyan, attributing the main reason as excessive cost.
He was quoted as saying that 'Cavani....was not a realistic target' in light of PSG's valuation of the player. This has left the door wide open for several British clubs, and topping the list are Manchester United.
However, if the Red Devils do want the forward as much as the press are reporting, they are going to have to shell out a lot cash. Cavani signed for PSG in 2013 for a record €64 million. In April this year, Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al Khelaifi was quoted as saying that if Manchester United put together a £50 million offer, he 'would not even look at such a bid'.
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But there is something tediously familiar with this story.
Two years ago the Mirror suggested United were tabling a £50 million deal for the then Napoli player. Of course that didn't work out. Last summer, both Manchester United and Chelsea were strongly linked with the player, particularly during and immediately after the World Cup. At that point in time Chelsea were looking at a striker deficit, with confidence in Eto'o gone, and before they went on to sign goal machine and the legally-confirmed-two-years-younger-than-Cavani Diego Costa.
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But Chelsea may be glad they made that choice last year, and it is not surprising that they aren't really linked with the Uruguayan this summer, after they also picked up Loic Remy from Newcastle last August, and the Frenchman has proved a valuable option from the bench.
CAN CAVANI PERFORM IN THE PREMIERSHIP?
While Diego Costa has gone on to be a goal-machine for Chelsea, with almost 1-for-1 in the Premier League, and still in third on the goalscorers board despite significant time off the pitch, Cavani has not been in such illustrious form.
With one game left to play in the season, Cavani has netted only 16 league goals - level with his achievement last year. And although he still sits in fourth place on the goalscorers' leaderboard in France's Ligue 1, it is not viewed as difficult a league as the Premiership.
Added to this, whether it is for club or country, Cavani is always eclipsed by a world's best striker. At PSG, Ibrahimovic (yes, he who was caught shouting at director Leonardo on air during their league win celebrations in 2013) has always been the main man up front and the Parisians have always put his interests first. As such Cavani has been quoted in the past as being unhappy with his role, which he would prefer to be up infront of the goal, but has become more marginalised to the wing.
For Uruguay, he will always have the controversial and technically excellent striker Luis Suarez ahead of him. During World Cup 2014, the balance of power became clear in the first games of the tournament, where Cavani was mostly used in build-up play, supporting Suarez, or running through from the flanks. This did not stop him making an impact though, and notably he was responsible for setting up both of Suarez's goals in the landmark 2-1 defeat of England.
However, past the group stages, and Suarez's expulsion from the tournament for clearly and deliberately biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini, Cavani failed to fire. Which is ironic for the man who split from the pre-tournament training camp to hunt and kill two boars, six hares and, apparently, some protected creature that the Telegraph said they were not allowed to talk about.
Despite scoring on his international debut for Uruguy against Colombia in 2008, his performance against the same nation in the knockout stages of 2014 was far from impressive. Without Suarez to feed into he appeared somewhat lost, incapable of aiding Diego Forlan effectively, and listing around the pitch unable to carry the team himself. It starkly highlighted Suarez's contribution to their campaign.
In terms of his player attributes, the now 28 year old striker appears to have lost a touch of pace occasionally this year. And added to this, despite excellent reading of the game, close control, passing and free kick taking all being excellent, he clearly is not built for the physicality of the English game. This has been clearly seen in many a contretemps with now team-mate David Luis, including during the PSG v Chelsea Champions League game last season.
STILL A CHANCE AT MAN U?
All-in-all, Cavani is still a strong player, and he has shown great skill in assisting main strikers at both club and international level. The fact that his transfer rumours are appearing in the press is a sign of exactly how high he is held in esteem.
And, given his frustration with not holding court up front for PSG, there is a strong possibility he will look to make a move as he enters what should be the peak of his career.
However, he is simply not the player he was for Napoli. Back then he was young, fast, flamboyant, and looked to be a player developing to be an out-and-out striker of the highest calibre. The last two years have seemingly put paid to that. And looking at French league goalscorers who have flopped after moves to the Premiership - both Gervinho and Chamakh failed to deliver at Arsenal - a smooth transition to the Premier league is far from guaranteed.
Meanwhile, Manchester United are looking at a striker drought in the summer. Falcao seems unlikely to be sticking around at the club, Van Persie has still only managed 3 good seasons to date in his career and is hotly rumoured to be given his marching orders before he turns 32, and the team has already endured a tough uncharacteristic season, scoring almost 20 goals less on the road than rivals Man City. So what they need now more than ever is an all-out goalscorer up front with Rooney et al., and someone who will not need time to adapt or find their feet in the position.
A striker will be a top priority for Van Gaal, and he may not have his pick. Existing targets include Benzema - who Sir Alex Ferguson couldn't successfully court in 2009 - and he would be unlikely to look to move to Manchester after Madrid. When Juventus’ director general said they were out of the race for Cavani, he confirmed the Bianconeri's dedication to sign Paulo Dybala from Palermo - and for a rumoured £30 million too. So that Italian option now seems unlikely for Van Gaal. Alexandre Lacazette from Ligue 1 runners up Lyon is another option touted. The top goalscorer has shown rare form this year, including scoring 13 league goals away from home, but all the same doubts persist over his form translating across the Channel.
While Man U have signed up-and-coming Dutchman Memphis Dupay this month, big name rumours aren't that popular in the back pages, and there seem to be two stories going out at present - big names who won't come to the club (Mats Hummels), or entirely unrealistic transfer rumours (Pogba, Ronaldo, Bale, even Messi).
There is still plenty of time for Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United, and they will certainly be busy in the transfer window, if not as successful as some fans might hope. But while Messi is clearly an unrealistic target, Cavani would probably be an unwise one. And although the preferred option would be to buy someone like Ibrahimovic from 3 years ago, picking up that player's current second-fiddle, at frankly extortionate financial cost (bordering on mis-selling), does not seem a logical move for a club who need to resolve the future of this position in order to vie for the title next year.