Sunday May 26 2013
Benitez and the Cavani problem

With Rafael Benitez on the verge of joining Napoli, Alex Mott looks at the burning issue the Spaniard will have to resolve.

It’s been a week of rumour, counter-rumour, tease and conjecture. When Walter Mazzarri announced he would be leaving Napoli following their final game of the season, the Press had been in overdrive speculating on who would replace the 51-year-old.

First it was Rafael Benitez, then Roberto Mancini, Roberto Martinez or Roberto Di Matteo. On Friday afternoon at around 4.30pm, the movie mogul revealed that the interim Chelsea Coach would lead the Partenopei next term. "Benitez is the new Coach of Napoli,” he told reporters. “I gave myself a birthday present. I'll make it official in the next few days as he has to end his time at Chelsea, but he'll be our new Coach for the next two years."

However, just hours later the Stadio San Paolo side’s chief admitted he’d been somewhat hasty. “I have closed a deal for a new Coach,” he claimed. “But I cannot officially announce it until he is released from the club he is currently contracted with. I cannot tell you who it is because of UEFA regulations. As soon as the club release him, I will announce it.”

Whatever the mixed messages mean, it seems almost inevitable that the former Inter man will be sitting on the bench in Naples next year. And, depending on who you ask, that could either be a cause for celebration or commiseration.

The Madrid-born tactician is considered one of the most divisive in the game. His time at Valencia was an unmitigated success, breaking the Liga duopoly and winning the UEFA Cup in 2004. Liverpool were next, and another European trophy – this time the Champions League – cemented his place as one of the most in-demand Coaches on the continent.

But an ill-fated 25 games at the Nerazzurri sullied his reputation and saw him out of work until Chelsea made him interim manager following Di Matteo’s sacking in December.

Bolshie, confrontational and temperamental – Benitez certainly has an abrasive streak which can put certain fans’ noses out of joint. There’s no doubting his tactical acumen, though. In the big games, and especially on European nights, the 53-year-old has the habit of getting it right. Nine major trophies in 12 years is a record that even the very best would envy. Rafa wins you silverware – and that’s a fact.

One burning issue casting a shadow over the whole appointment is Edinson Cavani. With 29 League goals this term, it’s probably fair to say that the Uruguayan forward has almost single-handedly guided the Partenopei to their second-place finish.

Rumbling in the background however, is the persistent rumour that the striker will leave Naples in the summer for pastures new. His father admitted recently that “if Edinson does leave Italy, then I think his future will be in Spain,” and the links with Real Madrid just keep on getting stronger and stronger.

It’s likely Benitez will need to prepare for life without his star man and how he does that could mark his reign as either a failure or a success – right from day one.

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Have your say...
I don't mind Cavani leaving, I really want to see Insigne get a chance and develop rather than be a secondhand player.
on the 5th June, 2013 at 5:35pm
If it is true that Napoli is buying Gomez for 20 mil Euoros then I think they have the intent of selling Cavani. Although Gomez is not as versatile as Cavani he is one of the most lethal strikers in the world. And Napoli would have another 40 mil to spend on players (and De Laurentiis has stated that he will add money and go big this season). Normally I would not buy into the Gomez rumor but the German paper Bild is not a BS source.
on the 3rd June, 2013 at 1:54pm
serie a needs cavani to stay
on the 29th May, 2013 at 10:18am
I think that Napoli have a bright future, but Benitez must buy right players, not like at Liverpool, where he bought poor players like Jovanovic, Kyrgiakos, Dossena and other(there were really much)! So i hope he will buy a really good players. as a goalkeeper i want to see for example Leno from Leverkusen, or Akinfeev. In the defence some improvements too
Leno, Sanctis, Kapino
Maggio(Umtiti)Astori, Benatia(Cannavaro), Armero(Ogbonna)
Behrami, Hernanes
Insigne, Hamsik, Cerci
on the 28th May, 2013 at 9:30pm
As much as I would love Cavani to stay 63 mill is half a new 50.000 seater stadium. And with a sponsor Napoli is almost there. Juventus earn 25 mill more each year because of their stadium. So in a few years Napoli, with a new stadium, can refuse the sale of a new Cavani.
on the 28th May, 2013 at 7:46pm
If Cavani leaves for 60m euro and a few other fringe players go, then Napoli could really build a strong team

CONSIGLI - de sanctis, rosati (bosman)
ASTORI - gamberini (10m)
CANNAVARO - diakite (bos)
OGBONNA - britos (13m)
MAGGIO - zuniga - mesto
ARMERO - dossena (8m)
INLER - radosevic - cossu (bos)
NAINGGOLAIN - behrami - conti (10m/bos)
HAMSIK - dzemaili - el kaddouri
INSIGNE - pandev
DAMAIO - ferreyra - calaio (22m/10m,free)
on the 28th May, 2013 at 1:25am
on the 28th May, 2013 at 12:43am
It'll be a fun ride with Benitez on the bench next season, I assure. At first, it didn't look to good as he prefers tactics over fast floring football so we may not play the high tempo game we're used too. However a man who has won the league with Valencia twice and has alot of success, it could guarantee us results and an improved squad. As for Cavani, I'd want him to stay but if he goes it'd still be a win-win situation. We'd get lots of players with the money that we'd recieve for him
on the 27th May, 2013 at 7:07pm
As a Napoli fan I hope Cavani does not leave but with a half decent striker Napoli will still score lots of goals if they sell him and they don't change the team too much. We are in the champions league and this is not time to change everything about the team and it's 352 system. Benitez is a good coach but does not know Italian football so hoping he learns quick and we don't have another Donadoni!
on the 27th May, 2013 at 4:46pm
If they can sell Cavani for £50 million + then with champions league revenue, plus any other players that are sold. Napoli should have a huge budget to rebuild the squad. For me, Damaio should be the number 1 target to replace Cavani, £25 Million on him should be enough and would still leave a hefty war chest left to improve the defense and midfield. I just hope Rafa does a good job and doesn't waste money on average players
on the 27th May, 2013 at 1:38pm
If u ppl don't like him then let him come to Roma n build the team
on the 27th May, 2013 at 9:34am
De La is interested in Dzeko but Rafa wants Torres. I don't think either player will make the same impact as Cavani.

Rafa might be a bad choice, IMO. Since Napoli has returned to Serie A, it has been used to the three-man defence. Reja used it first and Mazzarri was the same. Donadoni used the 4-3-1-2 and failed.

Rafa has the players that could fit into a 4-2-3-1 but I don't know how he can make it work. He's tactically sound but he's also a poor man-manager.
on the 27th May, 2013 at 8:46am
As a Neopolitan I living in the UK & watching Benitez in the Premiership I see this as a marriage made in heaven. Napoli need a proven, experienced manager that has champions league credentials. Its a win win situation with or without Cavani. If they sell him they can spend all the money on a number of quality signings, if Cavani stays they keep the best striker in europe. I think Benitez can go that extra step Mazzarri could never achieve. Winning the Scudetto and last 4 in europe.
on the 27th May, 2013 at 7:56am
Every player has an asking price and if Real can meet Napoli then its crazy money not to say no. Benitez will also allow a bit more youth in the side I reckon and will hold Napoli in good stead. Re-invest Cavani money wisely and its a good deal.
on the 27th May, 2013 at 7:49am
Benitez will prove to be a disaster for Napoli, mark my words. The man's ego is so big he'll think he's bigger than Maradona!

Napoli need a coach who is familiar with Italian football and knows the passion of the Neapolitans.

I'd sign Trap on a 2 year deal right away. The old man still loves the game and is a fountain of knowledge. De la has made an error here, just as he did when he brought in Donadoni.

If not Trap, then Edy Reja!
on the 27th May, 2013 at 7:00am
i hope Cavani will stay. Benitez + Napoli with Cavani will lighten up Serie A next season, plus he is a 'tournament specialist' kind of manager, so we can dreaming about italian side doing well and go further in UCL. but i also hope they'll reinforce. as well as Lazio, Fiorentina, Udinese and Roma. With Mazzari at Inter and Benitez in Napoli, next year's match between two sides will become more and more poisonous.
on the 27th May, 2013 at 5:48am
I like his tactical approach to the game we will be more organized very different style than Mazzarri and the most important thing, I believe he will instill a more consistent confident mentality to us that was not there in the past we will see, clearly he still has to earn the trust of us Napoli fans. Cavani leaving should bring us in a solid group of players to balance things out his achievements and everything he has done with Napoli will surely be missed. New start for that Scudetto dream.
on the 27th May, 2013 at 2:26am
Cavani will leave. Money talks. People who thinks different are in denial. 63 millions? You think Napoli will turn that down? Cmon.And frankly, I think Cavani himself would rather play along Ronaldo then havin Benitez as coach. I hope I'm wrong as I'm extremely against these absurd amount of money invoking in player transfers.
on the 27th May, 2013 at 12:56am
I think they should cash in on Cavani, remember Ibras sale and the signings Inter were able to make with the Money. If Napoli can sign some real Quality in defense and obviously a replacement for Cavani like Dzeko/Tevez/Ibra who knows what could happen next season.
on the 26th May, 2013 at 10:34pm
Of Europe to regroup and re build there squad after mourinho left them in the mess there in now and gaspierini's poor management. Rafa will no doubt take Napoli to that next level they so badly need and hopefully Napoli do keep hold of there stars now or else bring 2 or 3 in return I want series a to over take the over ratted Spanish league now in co-ef points and position. #ForzaJuve #ForzaSerieA
on the 26th May, 2013 at 10:11pm
I can agree with yogesh rafa will no doubt do his best to keep cavani at napoli at the same time could use the moni to invest into the squad hevily with depth and an extra force in attack and defence he will put a fight for the tittle and an Even better one inthe champions league that Napoli has in the past he all ready has players like Hamsik Inler insigine behrami and keeping cavani would only just make the structure of the team much stronger forget his time at intermilan who need a season out
on the 26th May, 2013 at 10:07pm
good but the blog doesnt shows you the whole big picture.
no denying the fact that Cavani's family (mother,cousin & now father) hope to one day see Cavani in Madrid.
but on the other hand, dont you realize, an internationally acclaimed coach like Rafa Benitez would be single handedly enough to convince Cavani to believe in the project & harbor realistic silverware dreams, atleast for one more year.
anyways, do you remember the things Juve won after Zidane left ?
on the 26th May, 2013 at 8:27pm

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