If recent reports are any indication, don't expect the Summer of Edinson Cavani to stop anytime soon.
The Uruguayan striker has arguably been the hottest name of the summer, both for what he's done on the field and what's about to happen off of it. Cavani was ascendant during the 2013 Confederations Cup for his country, helping lead his team to a second-place showing in their group.
Though Uruguay ultimately lost both of their elimination-round matches, it's hard to pin that on Cavani. He scored each of Uruguay's three goals against Brazil and Italy, helping put a scare into the eventual Confed Cup champs and push the Italians to penalty kicks. For anyone who ever wondered about Cavani's place among the world's elite, the festivities down in Brazil should have completely ended that debate—if it ever existed in the first place.
All that said, Cavani's accomplishments for his country haven't gotten nearly the amount of spilled ink and pixelation that his impending transfer has. Throughout the summer, Cavani has arguably been the hottest name on the market. Neymar's move to F.C. Barcelona may have carried more weight when it happened, but the market for Cavani has kept just about everyone guessing.
For those looking for an easy American comparison, Dwight Howard would probably be the answer. While there are a few favorites, no one knows where Cavani will end up. Nearly every club with a deep pocket around the world has made their intentions known, to the point where it changes almost by the hour where Cavani's likeliest destination will be.
So it's exactly like Howard. You know, without the petulant waffling. Or the billboards. Or the questions about whether he will stay with his current franchise; Cavani will not be coming back to Napoli next season. Or the wonderment about whether you can win a championship with him as your best player.
With Cavani, the answer is almost certainly yes. The 26-year-old forward has emerged as one of the world's premier creators from the forward spot, dwarfing all Serie A competition last season with 29 goals. Cavani was so head and shoulders above the remainder of his luminaries that only one player—Antonio Di Natale of Udinese—had more than 20 scores.
So I guess you could say it's understandable that clubs are falling over themselves to land Cavani. Which ones, you ask? Well that depends on the day, of course.
Manchester City has been oft-mentioned throughout this process, and they seemed to be a front-runner for a while. But based on a recent report by BBC, City have seemingly taken themselves out of the running for monetary reasons of all things. City have been known to play opossum before, however, considering the market, BBC's report is probably spot on.
The trio of clubs have deep pockets and plenty of motivation to land a top-tier player like Cavani. Chelsea are looking to make a strong move toward the top of the Premier League, with Jose Mourinho's arrival creating an expectant summer spending splurge. PSG does little else except splurge, and they are looking to make major waves in European competition. Madrid seemingly just wants to make a create-a-team of superstars to dethrone F.C. Barcelona in La Liga.
At this point, no one ultimately knows what will happen. Chelsea, PSG and Madrid are putting themselves in a place where their eggs are firmly placed in one basket right now. They want Cavani. Each club has secondary options on the table, but that's all they are.
Eventually a true favorite—I'm guessing PSG based on their bidding of £50 million, per The Guardian's Dominic Fifield—will emerge and the other two sides will go by the wayside. They'll sign secondary options and move on as the losers of this entire saga.
Until the victor of The Hunger Games: Catching Cavani is finished, though, there is only one winner in this saga: Napoli.
On the surface, it's easy to say the Naples side is losing out the biggest here. Cavani is leaving their club. He's emerged as one of the finest strikers in the world since coming over to the club in 2010, and losing someone of his caliber is obviously going to create a ripple in the locker room. After all, the only way to better yourself from losing the 10th-best soccer player in the world is to, I dunno, land the ninth?
Those are fair points—they just miss the biggest one. By ridding themselves of Cavani now, Napoli are able to reap the greatest possible rewards for his departure. As it stands, the club is currently going to fetch a minimum of £50 million for Cavani's services. That number will probably only rise, as clubs continue to tug on Cavani's rights like two seven-year-olds battling for their favorite toy.
It's been obvious for months that Cavani had no interest in returning.
"I'm fine in Naples, but in football there are lots of things to consider," Cavani told La Repubblica in April (h/t ESPN). "I can only say that I will give my all in this shirt until the last day I wear it."
At the risk of putting words in Cavani's mouth—though I think it's relatively safe considering how things have gone this summer—that's player speak for "thanks for the memories." Cavani was going to head elsewhere, to a place that will get him all the international recognition of someone of his caliber. That wasn't going to happen so long as he was in Naples.
Luckily, Napoli should be able to use the rewards they reap from this bidding war to position themselves well in Serie A. They were still nine points behind Juventus in the table last season with Cavani on the roster, and his departure could open up enough funds for a more well-rounded roster.
And even if it takes a couple years to reach the pinnacle of Serie A, forcing Cavani back and having a black cloud hanging over the 2013-14 campaign is no way to live. The time to move on for both sides has come. Napoli just needs to get theirs while it's happening.
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