Recent speculation suggesting that Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani is unhappy in the French capital pushed the Uruguayan international to the point where he has felt the need to address the rumours in public earlier this week in an interview with BeIN Sports France (h/t ESPN FC).
The Daily Star's Jeremy Cross is now reporting that he has snubbed a move to Old Trafford. Regardless of the continued speculation, there is no reason that the South American should feel anything less than satisfied with his showing for PSG since his summer arrival from SSC Napoli.
In the aforementioned interview with BeIN Sports, Cavani admitted that playing out wide for PSG is not the same as playing through the middle for the Italian club. Nevertheless, the 27-year-old has managed a respectable 14 goals in 23 league matches, of which 18 have been starts.
He has also created two other goals for strike partner Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Swede may well be dominant and one of the main reasons why the Parisians are in such rude health domestically and in Europe at present, but Cavani has made an important contribution.
As early as December, OptaJean indicated the pair had outscored the majority of the opposing teams in Le Championnat.
24 - Ibrahimovic & Cavani have scored as many or more goals than 17 of the Ligue 1 teams this season. Duo.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) December 14, 2013
On top of his 14 league goals, the Uruguayan international has struck four times in six Champions League appearances, twice in two Coupe de la Ligue fixtures and once in two Coupe de France outings.
In total, Cavani has scored 21 goals in 33 games across all competitions for the French champions.
Also take into account the fact that he has missed one month with a hamstring injury, a spell that included all five of the team’s February fixtures, as well as two other games because he needed to return to Uruguay to take care of his impending divorce.
His tally then becomes even more impressive.
Played in a position that is not his natural one—arguably not even his second-most comfortable one considering that he is often played wide on the left for his national team—Cavani has acquitted himself well in his first season in Ligue 1. It is a competition renowned for its rigorous defences.
It is also overlooked that, despite these supposed struggles to get to grips with life in a new country, a new language and a relatively new culture—PSG do boast a large Italian-influenced contingent as well as a number of Spanish speakers—Cavani’s exploits place him second only to Ibrahimovic in the scoring charts.
That is some feat for a player who is continually reported to be unhappy.
Yes, it could be argued that Cavani’s form has tailed off somewhat since the turn of the year. Just three goals in 10 appearances across all competitions suggest the player is somewhat preoccupied, but considering his distractions back home in Uruguay, it is understandable to a degree.
However, in no way can his contribution to PSG be considered disappointing or below par, as is being suggested on a regular basis.
As noted by OptaJean, there was a time earlier this season when the predator had scored 10 goals in as many games across all competitions.
10 - Edinson Cavani has scored 10 goals in his last 10 competitive games with Paris SG. Symmetry.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) December 10, 2013
Blanc’s side splashed an estimated €64 million on a player who would make the team more clinical in front of goal and more prolific all-round. PSG having already bettered last season’s goal total of 101 earlier this month demonstrates that Cavani has done exactly what the club envisaged he would do.
Perhaps the most telling sign that the Uruguayan is not unhappy when on the pitch though is the commitment he shows in the tremendous effort that he puts in on a match-by-match basis.
Although difficult to prove with the use of statistics, the athletic striker makes the most of his physical prowess and impressive stamina by expending huge amounts of energy tracking back to recover the ball. Ibrahimovic, while exempt of criticism because of the immense contribution he makes, cannot rival Cavani for this sort of dedication and work ethic.
While El Matador’s partnership with Ibrahimovic does still have room for improvement, the pair have been more effective for the French giants than many predicted they would be and then given them credit for.
Cavani is entitled to a certain sense of frustration at perhaps not being able to contribute to PSG’s cause as fully as he feels that he is capable of, but a dose of reality is also needed.
The Uruguayan knew when he arrived that the plan was for him to first of all play alongside Ibrahimovic and then, in time, replace him as the focal point of the team’s attack.
4 - Edinson Cavani is the most prolific substitute in Ligue 1 this season with four goals after coming off the bench. Impact.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 3, 2014
As incredible as the notion sounds, the Swede is not immune to the powers of age and it is inevitable that his natural decline will coincide with a continued rise in status for Cavani in the French capital.
El Matador’s time to shine brightest in the City of Light could come as early as next season.