Some are concerned with Edinson Cavani's lack of scoring of late, but he's still been an unmitigated success at Paris Saint-Germain.
By Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip)
Since the beginning of 2014, Paris Saint-Germain star Edinson Cavani has been struggling to recapture his early season form with the French champions.
However, despite arriving in France for a record transfer fee of approximately €64 million last summer, he still cannot be considered a disappointment.
Recent reports have suggested that the Uruguayan international is unhappy in Paris and a move has even been touted, with Manchester United among the reported destinations. The player himself has even had to come out to underline his satisfaction in the capital.
"I don't know why they say I am not feeling well here in Paris, that's not true," he told A Bola recently. "What we talk about in the dressing room should stay there and the private life of a football player has to remain private. I am feeling well in Paris and at Paris Saint-Germain."
PSG coach Laurent Blanc has also weighed in on the matter, accusing the media of fabricating El Matador’s unfavourable situation.
"It's you who create the rumours about Cavani," Blanc told a news conference earlier this month. "He has some personal problems added to a recent injury, and people take advantage to create a Cavani problem. However, the player is happy here."
Why the big fuss over his future then?
Since the turn of the year, Cavani has scored just three goals in 11 appearances in all competitions. Prior to the winter break, he had hit 18 in just 23 outings and was making a mockery of early suggestions that he and the larger-than-life Zlatan Ibrahimovic could not play together.
Despite his current struggles, though, the South American should not need to prove himself further to avoid being branded a failure.
All told, Cavani has 21 goals in 34 appearances domestically and in Europe. That is still better than one goal every two matches, despite his recent dip in form.
Breaking that down, he has scored 14 in the league in 24 appearances, not to mention providing a further two for Ibrahimovic. He has also netted four times in six Champions League outings, twice in as many games in the Coupe de la Ligue as well as one in two Coupe de France fixtures.
Cavani has managed all of that from the unfamiliar position of wide on the right, despite having been played through the middle with Napoli and occasionally on the left for his country.
"Up until now, the results suggest that everything is going well,” he recently told beIN SPORTS France. “Obviously I'm not playing in the same position as I did with Napoli, but the important thing is to be on the pitch playing and the ambition remains the same.”
On top of that new role, he was also injured for the whole month of February, and he has missed two further matches due to “personal reasons” that meant that he needed to return to Uruguay.
Those personal problems are thought to be an impending divorce .
So, weighing everything up, Cavani perhaps deserves more slack than he is getting at this moment.
With just three goals in the past three months, it does appear that the former SSC Napoli star is not pulling his weight compared to earlier in the season.
But having not played for half of that period, it is not surprising that his form has tailed off somewhat. However, after delving into the details, it’s not as bearish as it seems.
Cavani has made PSG more prolific overall, which was why the French champions bought him in the first place last summer. He also adds something extremely valuable that is difficult to illustrate through statistics.
The Celeste star’s defensive contribution for Blanc’s side should also not be underestimated. Seeing El Matador tracking back into his own half to recover the ball or help out in defence is a common sight during PSG games and not only dedicates his commitment to the cause, but also endears him to the fans in a different way to Ibrahimovic thanks to his visible passion.
"My style is to give my best in every game,” he told beIN SPORTS of his impressive work ethic. “Even if I'm an attacker, for me helping to win back possession is a great feeling. Even if the emotion of scoring a goal is like no other."
Overall, it has proven a difficult adaptation process for Cavani, but ultimately it could prove to be to his benefit.
Besides, when you compare his performance to the relative failure that AS Monaco’s Radamel Falcao endured pre-injury in similar circumstances in the principality, it is easier to appreciate the challenges that both have faced coming into a new league.
Ligue 1 is not an easy league to succeed in as a goal-scorer, yet few give prolific strikers from Le Championnat the credit they deserve for mastering the art of scoring on a regular basis in a largely defensive league.
Should Cavani reach 20 league goals for the campaign, a realistic target at this stage, then he can consider his debut season a success. However, his current performance is already far from the failure that many are making it out to be.