Edinson Cavani: Why He'd Thrive at Manchester City

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IFebruary 20, 2013

With 67 Serie A goals in just over two-and-a-half seasons at Napoli, it is clear why Edinson Cavani looks to be Europe's hottest striking property at present. 

Of those elsewhere who could be prized from their current employers, it is possibly only Atlético Madrid's Colombian forward Falcao who could argue that claim with any justification.

The 26-year-old Uruguayan's £52 million release clause has been widely reported (Independent) and it appears that financial heavyweights Real Madrid and Manchester City could be among those who would be willing to threaten that figure. (Daily Mail)

Renowned Italian football agent Mino Raiola has been among those to predict that this campaign will be Cavani's last as a Napoli player (Football Italia) and, given the sizable financial backing of those linked to his services, it's easy to see why that is the suspicion.

Without looking at all his possible options, we can look at what Cavani could add to any employer by using one suitor as a case study. In this case, we will use Manchester City.

In January, the Citizens parted with Italian striker Mario Balotelli to AC Milan for a fee that reportedly totals somewhere around the €22 million mark. (BBC) He has yet to be replaced while, for the time being, Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko is also consistently linked with a move away from the Eastlands club this summer. (The Sun)

The indications are clear. Manchester City will be in the market for a striker at the end of the season.

Unlike either of the club's other forwards, Argentine's Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez, Cavani is a sizable figure at just over 6'0" tall. While he may lack inches on the supposedly departing Dzeko, that is substituted for increased athleticism and technical ability.

All too often this season, the 2011-12 champions have found themselves to be too predictable this year. Aguero and Tevez as a strike force offers dynamism but little alternative if struggling for a breakthrough, while Dzeko has often performed best as a substitute. It is an interesting conundrum.

The hope would be that Cavani could offer the best of both worlds.

Quick and agile, the Uruguayan would fit neatly into a system containing either Tevez or Aguero, as well as the creative talents of David Silva. In theory, all four could be utilised concurrently if needed and a potent attacking unit could be formed.

Given his aerial ability, he could also offer a more direct threat should that approach ever be required—something neither Tevez or Aguero offer.

Balotelli was supposed to be the man who could offer a more rounded striking presence, but the Italian proved an inconsistent threat in his limited playing time. Regular off-field indiscretions also proved an unwanted distraction.

While their four forwards were able to fire the club to Premier League glory last season, it simply hasn't proved to be the case second time around.

City have, at times, looked bereft of a top quality attacking focal point for Aguero and Tevez to feed off and were left casting admiring glances across the city to the immediate impact of Robin van Persie at Manchester United.

The hope would be that Cavani could have a similar effect in a blue shirt.

If we look at the statistics behind City's season on WhoScored, we can better understand the issues they have faced. At an average of 59 percent possession, it has not been a problem keeping the ball while most of their play is conducted inside the opponents' half. All promising figures.

The problem then is coming further up the pitch. In their title winning campaign, City were scoring machines with an average return of 2.45 league goals per game. That figure has now dropped to 1.85. The number of shots per game, also, is notably down from 19.4 to 17.1 when compared to last season.

The club's dominance of possession and field position is simply not translating, as it should, into shooting opportunities.

Midfielders Samir Nasri, David Silva and Yaya Toure contributed a combined 30 assists between them last campaign, but that number has dropped to just 11 this year. Is their service to blame? Or have the strikers simply not been offering viable targets against teams that know they are able to defend narrowly?

Of all the club's strikers, it has been Dzeko who has scored with the most regularity this season. The feeling is, though, that the club lose fluidity with his presence. It has come to a point, though, where the Aguero-Tevez partnership was clearly not working.

Cavani, then, could offer some sort of remedy to the club's attacking woes. If necessary, he can offer an aerial threat from early crosses into the box from the club's full backs. Importantly, though, he is equally adept at linking play in a manner that should better suit his Argentine forward colleagues.

Mancini has become stuck between two non-ideal solutions. He would, seemingly, be content to lose Dzeko but is forced to play him more out of necessity than desire.

The alternative has seen City become too predictable and easy to mark out of the game. Teams have become content to allow them possession in and around the penalty area in the belief that they can be nullified.

There is no doubt that the club, with Financial Fair Play restrictions on the horizon, would rather not splash out on a £50 million centre-forward. Cavani, though, may prove too tempting to resist.

Van Persie was the club's desire for last summer and, had he chosen the blue half of Manchester, then you would have to think the season may have turned out very different.

Mancini, should he remain in the hot seat, will be determined not to see the same mistake occur once more this summer.


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