Tuesday April 24 2012
Champions League Cavani

Week 34 delivered an interesting warning from Edinson Cavani to Napoli, one that Rob Paton feels you can’t blame the player for.

“Will I stay at Napoli even if we don’t qualify for the Champions League? I don’t know, the club will deal with this sort of thing. I am focused only on playing my football and winning every game. The club will think about the rest and they know what to do. For as long as I am at Napoli, I will continue to give my all for this team.”

So said Edinson Cavani before he’d even left the pitch in Week 34, no doubt alerting Europe’s major clubs that the man Aurelio De Laurentiis has more than once promised won’t be sold, might be. With his choice of words on Saturday evening, the 25-year-old Uruguayan, whose experience of Champions League football is still fresh in his mind, had consciously opened the door to a new stream of transfer speculation about how he might return to the competition for next season.

Napoli’s win over Novara this weekend, with the help of Cavani’s opening strike, ensures that in closing the gap to third place to four points with five games left, the striker’s primary route back into the UEFA tournament may come without the need for a transfer, something that is likely to be the footballer’s first choice.

Indeed, it is arguable that Cavani is only the striker he is – one that has scored 60 goals in the past 21 months, is almost unrecognisable from that which Napoli signed from Palermo and has attracted so much attention – because of his teammates at San Paolo and because of Walter Mazzarri’s open tactics that are designed to feed him as a single focal point.

From Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi’s duel free-roles behind him to Christian Maggio and Juan Zuniga’s probing and relentless running and provision of crosses from the flanks, everything is at Napoli to support Cavani. Their understanding so as to regularly find Cavani in his what otherwise seems like unpredictable movement for opponents to mark – for example, knowing if he is going to make a late run at the back post or an early run to the near post – and his ability to capitalise on chances provided, has developed an interdependent relationship between team and striker.

Importantly, it is an on-pitch network that is backed up by an off-pitch focus – pre-match provided a good example, when David Trezeguet’s claim that Mazzarri has blocked the club signing him last summer was confirmed by the Coach and explained because: “I didn’t want a shadow for Cavani.”

As the two first-half strikes to decide the weekend’s game demonstrated – Cavani may be integral to Napoli, but so too is Napoli to Cavani. Mazzarri’s decision to encourage Blerim Dzemaili to play alongside Hamsik and behind the shadow-less forward – the midfielder began the game retreating into midfield before instruction – was cited as being as much of a contributing factor to the home side winning as the fact was that Cavani netted the crucial first and had a hand in the second. Napoli may have a style of play that has brought criticism upon Mazzarri this term for its inflexibility, but it exists for Cavani, who continues to benefit from it.

Indeed, Cavani’s failure to score or generally affect play in the past few weeks’ most important games – against Chelsea, Juventus and Lazio – coincided with a selection shake-up in the team, from Hamsik’s deployment in central midfield to Maggio’s absence and even a shift in formation against the Aquile.

“The most important thing now is to win, no matter how, if it is by three, two or just one goal. It doesn’t matter if they are my goals or others, it is three points that are vital to make up the positions in the League,” added Cavani to the above veiled threat of a summer departure.

Significant it was that he delivered this message, as it is one he has been relaying for the past few weeks. Indeed, for now hinting at leaving, it is important to note that Cavani’s behaviour is otherwise still that of a man who is both aware of what he benefits from at the club and who is keen to still win with it.

On from taking the lead on the pitch last season, this term has seen the footballer also develop into a more talismanic character away from the field too. Weekly messages through the media of the team’s need to concentrate and to win every game have reportedly been matched by the same regular assertion made to his teammates in the dressing room. This is a player who now knows his own importance to the team but is taking a proactive interpretation of it to his teammates, aware of the interdependence he has already developed with them.

However, for the faith that his teammates and the club’s fans can take from his consistent and genuine determination to return to the Champions League with the Partenopei, the admittance that he doesn’t know where he will be come next season if they don’t, should equally be heeded. There are other teams out there who might fancy giving Cavani the service Napoli have provided him these two seasons.

Have your say...
At anonymous. You speak of european commitments. Because of the european winter and the delays caused Juventus at times had as full of fixtures than any side in Europe. Even still, european commitments are not as significant as they used to be since getting rid of the second group stage, that was some 10 years ago..
on the 26th April, 2012 at 6:33am
Napoli need to make the Champions League over Lazio. Lazio would be a total disaster for Serie A.

If they need make the Champions League and Keep Cavanni, plus add 2 more defensive players. They could make a run.

Consider they should have beat Chelsea this season, and who know could be playing for the Title now.
on the 25th April, 2012 at 7:57pm
Napoli are no where near as strong as Juve! The only Napoli players that would get in the Juve side are Maggio, Cavani, and Lavezzi,(Hamsik is good but overrated). Juve are much more solid, much better tactically, and overall, possess more quality. I also feel that Mazzarri is a weakness. He is tactically naive-a one-dimensional coach that has no plan B, doesn't rotate his squad-allowing them to get either exhausted or injured, and fails to give youth a chance-I fear for Insigne next season!
on the 25th April, 2012 at 12:18pm
Great juve! If juve had European commitments they would have finished 7th again. Napoli are just as good in fact better than juve when the team is fully fit. Juve are a good squad with a great manager but have no real class players apart from Pirlo and Buffon. Sorry but juve are not a great side!
on the 25th April, 2012 at 10:06am
with all due repsect to Napoli, cavani is wasted at napoli, he should and probabaly will join Juve if he is to to go up another level FORZA JUVE great cavani!!
on the 25th April, 2012 at 8:48am
I was hoping to have Pepito Rossi in Juve. But after the second nasty injury, absolutely no.

Vucinic, Quagliarella, Matri, Cavani would make super Juventus
on the 25th April, 2012 at 6:31am
Cavani would be the beautiful final piece in the new Juventus jigsaw. He would be the perfect reference point, which is all that is lacking, especially if Vucinic starts next season the way he is finishing this. What a combination they could potentially be. I also think that his presence would help Matri and Quagliarella, because he would take the pressure off them to score. I rate both very highly and I think between the four, they would score 50 goals and terrorise defences at home and abroad.
on the 24th April, 2012 at 11:16pm
I looking forward to see him playing for Juve next season.....FORZA JUVE!!!!!!!!!
on the 24th April, 2012 at 7:05pm
Cavani has the potential to be an all-time great. I think he'd fit in perfectly with Juve's system. Imagine Pirlo feeding Cavani? Vuc, Vidal, Marchisio, Lich, supporting him? He'd get great service, and Cavani is willing to come back and defend when needed - as Juve's strikers are asked to do under Conte. As a Juve fan, I would LOVE to see Cavani come in to our side in the summer. That would be amazing. Although Marrotta favors his bargain-basement buys too much. We'll see.
on the 24th April, 2012 at 6:13pm
Cavani is an exceptional player, whether he leaves or not, he still depends on his team mates to supply him like any other top striker/goalpoacher would.
on the 24th April, 2012 at 4:01pm
great striker. I dont agree with the below comment which says he is merely the product of good service. Many strikers get good service, but only the top ones score 20+ goals in a league as tough as serie A. Juventus make so many chances but the strikers just dont have the strength and composure of Cavani or Ibra. Put Cavani in the Juventus side and watch him become an all time great.
on the 24th April, 2012 at 3:19pm
Come To juventus.....let us dominate even more!....
on the 24th April, 2012 at 2:59pm
I hope he stays. And if not in Naples at least in Italy. Although I can't see anyone in Serie A being able to afford him, unless Juve decide to break the bank.
He's a fine player. Not as involved or productive as Lavezzi, but still the man Napoli need to finish off the chances.
If Napoli sell anyone, I think they should sell Hamsik(despite his new contract). He's a bit overrated and if someone wants to pay 20m+ for him, then Napoli should take it and sign a centre-back and full-back.
on the 24th April, 2012 at 1:00pm
In my opinion, Cavani is a product of the system. An overrated player who is benefitting from great service. He is a solid striker but not worth the price it would take to pry him from Napoli. The most impressive of the "3 Tenors" is Lavezzi. He is a relentless workhorse who makes everything work. As a Milan fan, I think he would be the perfect cog in the Milan machine.
on the 24th April, 2012 at 11:58am
good point frm d author...
Napoli and Cava r toooo interdependent...
ders gonna b no Trident without all 3 Tenors...
Pls. dont leav Naples..
forza Napoli sempre per vita...
on the 24th April, 2012 at 11:17am

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