By most accounts, Paris Saint-Germain was pretty woeful overall in yesterday’s second leg Champions League semifinal loss to Barcelona. But if one PSG player stood out for having an even worse game than the rest of his team, it was surely Edinson Cavani.
Like his teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Uruguayan was isolated up top and received little in the way of service. But while Ibra dropped deep and attempted to influence the match in midfield, Cavani was basically a bystander. And while in the first leg Cavani had a number of missed attempts on goal, in the second he failed to register a single shot, on-target or off. The 2-0 loss, that sees PSG eliminated on a 5-1 aggregate, was just the latest instance of Cavani failing to make an impact on a big match. For a striker who cost 64.5 million euros when he was brought over from Napoli last season, it’s safe to say Cavani hasn’t lived up to expectations or his price tag.
In his first season at the club, he scored a respectable 16 goals in 30 Ligue 1 appearances. Currently on nine league goals, with a further 6 in the Champions League and another 6 in cup competition, it’s not fair to call Cavani an unmitigated failure. But big players, especially those with big price tags, are brought in to influence big games, something Cavani has largely failed to do at PSG.
Certainly two seasons spent in the shadow of Ibrahimovic has not helped Cavani’s confidence any. By most accounts, there is little love lost between the two strikers. Many in the football community saw Cavani’s transfer to PSG as senseless to begin with. It was always going to be the Zlatan show one-way or another after all. And while the two have occasionally combined to brilliant effect, any anticipation of a revolutionary strike partnership being formed between the two has faded.
Cavani’s defenders could argue the fact that the former Napoli man, who scored 29 goals in the 2012-13 Serie A season, has spent much of his time in Paris shunted out to the wing. But even earlier this season, when Ibra was out injured for months, Cavani failed to rise to the occasion when given the opportunity to play through the middle in his preferred position.
At times, it’s been hard not to feel for Cavani. He had nothing to do with how much the club paid for him after all, and the cards have been stacked against him from the get go. In January, when he returned to training several days late from the Ligue 1 winter break, speculation was rife that he was on his way out at the Parc du Princes.
But a transfer failed to materialize. Now, with the summer transfer window nearly upon us, it would seem an appropriate moment to call time on the Cavani experiment at PSG. The club needs to rebuild and revitalize its squad if it is to progress beyond the semifinals of the Champions League, something it’s failed to do in three consecutive seasons.
Cavani, meanwhile, should light out for greener pastures and find a club where he will be the main man up top and a guaranteed starter for every game. Scoring 20+ goals in three consecutive Serie A seasons for Napoli is not something done lightly. At 28, Cavani is far from past his prime. He just needs to hit the reset button and get a fresh start somewhere, away from Paris, PSG and most of all, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.