Gonzalo Higuain Is Ideal Replacement for Edinson Cavani at Napoli

Tim KeeneyContributor IJuly 24, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 26: Gonzalo Higuain of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring their opening goal during the La Liga match between Real Sociedad de Futbol and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Anoeta on May 26, 2013 in San Sebastian, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Losing Edinson Cavani had the potential to destroy Napoli

A second-place finish in Serie A, the club's best since Diego Maradona was roaming Stadio San Paolo, had most fans saying "finally."

It has been a slow, painful climb back to prominence for the club that has endured an incredible amount of hardships—relegation to Serie C, bankruptcy, rebirth under Aurelio De Laurentiis—over the past two decades.

Although Napoli has been solid over the past couple of seasons, 2012-13 was the "we're back" moment. 

And Edinson Cavani was a vital part in that. 

The 26-year-old Uruguayan became the first Napoli player since Maradona to lead Serie A in goals, netting 29—40 percent of the team's production—in what was a dominant, transcendent season. 

With him shipped off to Paris Saint-Germain this summer, however, a major decline for Napoli became a realistic expectation, and that's something the loyal fans simply don't deserve after finally getting another taste of success. 

But who knew replacing the premier striker in Italy could have gone so swimmingly? 

With the reported €64 million earned from the Cavani deal, Napoli has been able to sign winger Dries Mertens from PSV Eindhoven, center-back Raul Albiol from Real Madrid and forward Jose Callejon also from Real Madrid

It doesn't stop there. 

According to the Press Association via The Guardian (with confirmation from president De Laurentiis), Pepe Reina and Gonzalo Higuain will very soon follow:

Gonzalo Higuaín and Pepe Reina have passed medicals at Napoli and will be presented to the club's fans on Monday night, according to the president, Aurelio De Laurentiis.

"Higuaín and Reina have passed their medicals and will soon join the rest of the group," De Laurentiis tweeted. "On Monday there will be a big party at the San Paolo. You will be able to get to know the new players and the new shirts."

Squawka Football's Twitter account sums up Napoli's summer quite well:

Business indeed. 

Higuain, obviously, is going to be the most important player of the group in replacing Cavani, and while truly replacing someone of his caliber is next to impossible, Higuain has the talent to keep Napoli in title contention. 

With Real Madrid last season, the Argentine international netted 16 goals and tallied five assists in 28 La Liga appearances. 

Sixteen goals may not seem all that prolific on the surface, but remember he started just 19 matches and came on as a substitute in nine. 

From an efficiency standpoint, Higuain was one of the best goalscorers in Europe, per WhoScored:

Higuain isn't going to be the speediest player on the pitch, but he is always in the right place and is a world-class, clinical finisher. 

As long as he gets opportunities, he will produce. 

And with players like Marek Hamsik behind him, Goran Pandev next to him and Mertens on the wing, there will be plenty of opportunities. 

So, fear not Napoli faithful. The loss of Cavani won't send you back into the unspeakable period.

It will just start the Higuain Era.