Napoli's Edinson Cavani: Serie A's Most Wanted Striker
Edinson Cavani is one of the most talked-about transfer targets in world football right now.
With the possible exceptions of Brazil's wunderkind Neymar and Columbia's Radamel Falcao, Cavani's name has been in more papers and on the tongues of more tipsters than any other player. And for good reason.
After moving from Danubio in his native Uruguay, Cavani established himself as one of Italy's better forwards at Palermo. The Sicilians tend to run hot and cold—as evidenced by their current relegation struggles—but Cavani was a constant source of goals for them, and despite being quite young, he quickly developed into one of the Rosaneri's key players.
It was his move to Napoli in 2010 that really saw him blossom though. Initially signed on loan with an obligatory purchase clause, Cavani wasted no time in impressing for the Partenopei. He scored twice on his debut—he netted for Palermo and for Uruguay on his debut, too—and hasn't stopped scoring since.
Since the days of Diego Maradona, few have excited the crowds at Naple's Stadio San Paolo quite like Cavani. There have been fan dedications, more than one pop song and even the eloquent support of the city's archbishop. "God serves himself," opined Crescenzio Sepe, "by having Cavani score goals".
How paltry the €17 million purchase seems now. With an obscene 71 goals in 97 Serie A matches, the Uruguayan has been instrumental in Walter Mazzari's side becoming one of Europe's most potent teams.
It's not only for his goals that he has a €70 million release clause in his contract, however. Few footballers at the highest level run as much or work as hard for their teammates as Cavani does.
Europe's most illustrious clubs want Cavani because he's the complete package. When he first arrived in Italy, he had Palermo's club captain Fabrizio Miccoli and the seasoned striker Amauri ahead of him. Nevertheless, Cavani forced his way into the first team through a combination of dedication, hard work and unbridled talent.
He did the same at Napoli, and there's every reason to believe that he'd do the same at whatever club he moves to next. There's no such thing as a dead certainty at the highest level of football, but Cavani's as close as they come.
Even off form, he's still better than most. He proved as much recently against Torino in the league. Cavani was dropped to the bench for the game, having arrived back in Italy late from international duty.
When he was brought on as a sub, it looked as though his time away had taken its toll on the Uruguayan, as he needlessly hand-balled and gave away a penalty towards the end that let the hosts back into the game.
His reaction spoke volumes. An incredible free kick increased Napoli's tally to four before his extra-time strike secured the three points for Mazzari's men. Blerim Dzemaili scored a hat-trick, but all the talk was of Cavani.
As it stands, he's six goals ahead of his nearest rival in Serie A's scoring charts and looks set to become Napoli's first capocannoniere since Maradona.
He's just 26 but is already one of the best players in the world. He's settled down, with a wife and two kids, and is deeply religious. He's succeeded everywhere he's gone and scored against the biggest names in football.
This is no flat-track bully. Those goals have been hard earned by a player as dedicated as he is talented. And wherever he chooses to move to next, that won't come cheap. But it won't matter, because that kind of prolificacy is priceless.
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