According to reports in France (via RMC Radio) last Tuesday, Paris Saint-Germain have reached an agreement with Napoli’s prolific Uruguayan marksman Edinson Cavani. The stories claimed that Les Parisiens have struck a deal in principle with the player and his entourage.
However, both PSG’s sporting director Leonardo as well as various sections of the Italian media later rejected those reports (via Football-Italia).
Since then, the club have had to deal with the speculation continuing to surround the future of coach Carlo Ancelotti, who is reported (via ESPNFC) to be unhappy in Paris and has informed the club of his desire to quit. The Italian denied those suggestions, but Leonardo earlier that week had claimed that Ancelotti’s future “is in his hands” (via ESPNFC).
Any potential deal for Cavani will likely depend on Ancelotti being coach next season given the knock-on effect it would have on some of PSG’s current top stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Speculation is just as intense regarding his future with many believing he will depart in the summer (via ESPNFC).
However, if the Swede were to stay, then a move for Cavani would go a long way toward solving both Ibrahimovic and PSG’s biggest problems this season.
The main reason Ibrahimovic would be unhappy in the French capital is the unfair amount of pressure he is under constantly. He shoulders the heady expectations of the team thanks to his role as their most industrious player. When Ibra is not on form or has a quiet game, the fans get on his back and not the other players.
The towering striker has taken this criticism personally, probably feeling that his outrageous goal scoring feats (32 goals in all competitions and counting) are going unappreciated. He admitted (via ESPNFC) that after PSG’s come-from-behind victory over Nancy in March.
Plenty has been made of the proposed 75 percent tax law playing its part in any potential decision to leave; it should be emphasised that the club and not the individual would pay this. The pressure from the sky-high expectations of the Parisian public has been a major turn-off for the 31-year-old.
For some time though it has been clear that the Swede needs a natural strike partner, a predator, alongside him for PSG to recognise their potential and fulfill the owners’ ambitions of domestic and European dominance.
An impressive Champions League quarterfinal showing against Barcelona will encourage the club, and any potential signings, ahead of next campaign. The signing of Cavani would be with the continental stage in mind.
However, his impact would be lessened without Ibrahimovic to play alongside.
The former AC Milan man has been vital to everything that Ancelotti’s side have achieved this season and to sell, or worse allow, their most valuable player to leave would be foolish. If Les Parisiens can lure Cavani to France, it makes Ancelotti’s side a totally different beast, particularly in Europe.
It may be Ibrahimovic’s goals that have dominated this season’s exploits, but it is impossible to not notice how much more creative he has become. The Swedish international has provided 15 assists across all competitions (seven in the Champions League alone) this term as well as notching 31 goals.
Watching him, particularly in the Champions League, his creativity comes to the fore. He dictates the play for PSG and orchestrates the game, the build-up, goals, everything. To get the best out of such a talent, PSG have been desperate for a player of Cavani’s calibre to allow Ibrahimovic to focus on that part of his game.
One of Cavani’s former teammates at Napoli, Ezequiel Lavezzi, could yet play a persuasive role in any potential move for the Uruguayan phenomenon. But it has been the Argentine who has partnered Ibrahimovic up front for the majority of this season, alternating with Jeremy Menez and Kevin Gameiro.
Those three have been less than clinical when it comes to the biggest chances. PSG may well win Ligue 1 by more than their current nine-point margin, but that is more thanks to their rivals’ inconsistency than PSG thoroughly dominating Le Championnat.
Arguably Ancelotti’s side have not reached that level of consistency yet, and that is because they do not have someone to share Ibrahimovic’s goal scoring responsibilities and to take the weight off of his shoulders. Cavani will do that.
Too often this season PSG have been frustrated by defensive opponents in Ligue 1 set up to not concede, or punished in Europe for not taking their chances. The key opportunities in games like that often fall to Ibrahimovic’s strike partner because of the way Les Rouge-et-Bleu are creating their chances through the Swede. Cavani would provide the clinical edge that has been missing this campaign.
Champions League success will be PSG’s priority next season. Bettering their quarterfinal showing against Barcelona and perhaps even making the final itself will be a minimum requirement. This will be made more likely with a player like Cavani in the side.
The true value of the transfer will only be recognised, though, if Ibrahimovic stays or the club find a new No. 10. But together Ibrahimovic and Cavani would be one of Europe’s most deadly duos.