This Tuesday, the King returns. Edinson Cavani will play at the Stadio San Paolo for the first time since 2014. Unfortunately for Napoli fans, though, he is still representing Paris Saint-Germain.
‘El Matador’ joined Napoli in 2010 and spent three years with the club, scoring 104 goals in that relatively short time. Prior to his departure, many believed he would surpass Diego Maradona as the club’s all-time top goalscorer, an honour which now belongs to captain Marek Hamsik.
During the summer transfer window there was heavy speculation that Cavani would return to the south of Italy to pull on the Partenopei kit once again. Accompanied with a cryptic tweet from reliable Napoli journalist Carlo Alvino, and flights that Cavani was apparently on, the rumours that he was going to make his triumphant return had leverage. Despite that, nothing came of it. All fans were given was a statement from club president Aurelio De Laurentiis saying that he was their Cavani. Dream over, right?
Well, maybe not. Napoli supporters soon found out that Edi would make a return to play in the shadow of Vesuvius, as his PSG side was drawn into Champions League Group C with them. While he may not be playing for Napoli, Cavani will surely receive a hero’s welcome (a complete 180 of the reception he received in PSG’s friendly with Napoli back in 2014) upon taking the field he once called home.
At the San Paolo is where the first steps can be taken towards making the dream of a Cavani return come true. Unsurprisingly, the talk of a possible switch back to the Partenopei for El Matador have resurfaced. De Laurentiis has also added fuel to the fire, starting that the door to Napoli is open for Edinson, all he has to do is lower his wages. While he may playing in Naples as an adversary, hearing the roar of 50,000+ in attendance very well could make Cavani think that much more about a return to Campania for good.
Following the formalities, though, both sides will have to remember who they’re fighting for. This fixture, while not decisive, will all but confirm which of these two teams will be one of two sides progressing on to the next round of the Champions League. In the reverse fixture it seemed that Carlo Ancelotti’s side would come away with all three points, essentially ruining PSG’s chances of making it through to the round of 16. The Partenopei controlled things at the Parc de Princes, taking the lead twice before falling victims to a Angel Di Maria wonderstrike. Cavani failed to score in the match, and Kalidou Koulibaly will surely set out to see that the same happens in round two.
This build-up to the match has set up what should be an unforgettable evening in Naples. A sold out crowd, high stakes, and the return of a club favorite. The match has all the makings of a classic. So, will Napoli emerge victorious against Thomas Tuchel’s men, announcing to the world that they will be taken seriously among Europe’s heavy hitters and further push the idea of a return on Cavani’s mind, or will El Matador silence those to whom he once brought immense joy? Whichever occurs, on Tuesday we will witness the return of the King.