Messi? Falcao? Don't forget Napoli's Edinson Cavani
There is no doubting Edinson Cavani always leaves his footprint in front of goal. Since his €16 million move to Napoli from Palermo, the Uruguay international has silenced doubters with his consistent performances up front.
Cavani has scored 56 goals in 79 Serie A games for Napoli so far, and he added four more against Dnipro in the 4-2 Europa League win on Thursday to keep European hopes alive.
There have been comparisons between Cavani and Falcao, with many claiming the Atletico Madrid man is the world's best #9. Falcao is exceptional and has a case following his hat-trick against Chelsea in the European Super Cup earlier this year, but no one can argue Barcelona's Lionel Messi is the best #9 in the world.
Yes, Messi, is a false #9, but he is still a #9. He does all of the roles of a traditional centre-forward and scores more than anyone else because he gets more shots and opportunities. It's why Barcelona play for him and only him.
However, Cavani is up there even though he rarely gets the credit he deserves. There are reasons for this. One of those is playing in Serie A. Lets face it, the Italian league is the fourth best in the world; it lags behind La Liga, the Premier League and Bundesliga in Germany. Cavani is playing, scoring and doing his job, but he does not have the coverage Falcao gets in Spain.
Falcao has been getting the spotlight and he has proven himself on the big stages like his performance against Chelsea and his goals in La Liga. The Colombia international gets chances to prove himself at the very top like when he plays against Real Madrid and Barcelona. Cavani has yet to do this. It's easy to see why some are leaning towards Falcao as being one of the best.
On the pitch, Cavani is just as good as the Colombian if not better. The Napoli man is always scoring the important goals. He is like a one-man team, even more so now that Ezequiel Lavezzi is no longer at the club. Let's not forget, despite losing top players like Lavezzi, Cavani is still the big fish and he has overcome the little problems.
With Lavezzi gone, Napoli have replaced rather than added to the squad, yet Cavani is still shining. The former Palermo man is one of the top finishers in the world and a proven out-and-out goal scorer.
He scored four in one night in Europe; not many players can do that. Some will argue he only scored against Dnipro. However, no matter who you are playing against, scoring four in one game and coming back to win from a losing position is beyond world class.
Following the win over Dnipro, Cavani said (via Goal.com) he wanted to surpass Diego Maradona's goals record at Napoli. Perhaps he should be looking at the bigger picture. Maybe he needs to move to a bigger club to fulfil his potential and become one of the best #9's of all time.
Cavani is part of a team of underdogs whose ambition is to win Serie A, but there is too much quality and grandeur ahead of them in the league for Napoli to do it.
Perhaps moving to a bigger European club would suit him. A natural in front of goal, when Cavani sees the white sticks in front of him, he almost always puts the ball in between them, no matter who he is playing against. He is that good.
Like Falcao and Messi, Cavani is astonishing, exceptional, but he needs to shake off that tag of being in an underdog side. The Uruguay forward can fit into any top team and he needs to take the next step to become a global superstar.
There is a feeling that fans are not seeing enough of Cavani because he plays at Napoli. It would be so different if he was under the spotlight of a club like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City or even Juventus. It's simple, Cavani is one of the top strikers in the world; he just isn't playing for one of the top clubs in the world. Only then will he get the credit he deserves.
He has the potential to be remembered among legends of the box like Andy Cole, Alan Shearer, Gabriel Batistuta and Romario. With the right team around him, Cavani can become a club legend and win the big trophies rather than just compete for them.
Any top club out there who is looking for goals should sign him. It's hard to see anything but even more goals if 'El Matador' joins a top European side. Of course, the choice is ultimately down to him.
He could do a Batistuta and stay at one club for most of his career (Fiorentina), not achieve, and then leave at the end of his career to win something elsewhere. Or, he could move now at 25 and achieve more at a club capable of winning the big trophies.
Is Cavani's ambition really just to break Maradona's goal haul at Napoli? There is no doubting he is on the way to fulfilling that target, but his quality and potential would be wasted there. Maradona's goals actually meant something. They had purpose, they won trophies, they made history.
Honestly, can anyone see Napoli winning Serie A, the Europa League or Champions League anytime soon? These are trophies Cavani would no doubt like to win, and he will, if he joins a club with the right structure and framework where he can hit the ground running.
Juventus need a striker and Cavani will be a better bet than Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente. The Uruguay forward is a syringe full of goals, just the medicine Juve need in attack if they are to pursue their own European ambitions.
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