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|Serie A Special: Should Edinson Cavani leave Napoli for Juventus, Europe better watch out|
At the weekend against Novara, the Partenopei claimed their first win after five successive games in which they failed to pick up all three points.
The fallout from their heartbreaking Champions League exit is clearly still apparent within the dressing room and there is even the serious possibility that Walter Mazzarri could leave the club.
For a season which at one stage was going so well, picking up big wins against the top sides in Serie A and sending shockwaves across Europe in their Champions League campaign. It has all started to go so wrong recently and despite the fact that they still have the Coppa Italia to play for, it may not be enough to entice their top stars to stay if they do not claim that all-important third spot.
One man linked with such a departure from the San Paolo this summer is totemic frontman Cavani and the 25-year-old did little to allay the fears of Napoli fans at the weekend. After the win over Novara, the Uruguayan stated that should the club fail to qualify for the Champions League he does not know if he could remain a Napoli player.
This was no doubt welcome news in Turin where Juventus will be keeping a very close eye on the Cavani situation and despite President Aurelio De Laurentiis’ repeated claims that the striker will stay, he would be tempted by a move to the Scudetto chasers who will be playing in Europe’s premier club competition next season.
With five games remaining, the Vesuviani are four points off Lazio who currently occupy third and realistically, it is not looking too likely at the moment that Edinson Cavani will once again be hitting the back of the net against the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea and Real Madrid next season in the blue of Napoli.
That is not to say though that the ‘Matador’ will not be playing in the competition next season. Should he be lining out for the Bianconeri then the rest of Europe should be very worried indeed.
Juventus themselves have been formidable and no more need be said about them than one simple statistic: we are now five games from the end of the season and nobody has gotten the better of them in Serie A. Nobody.
There are suggestions that the Italian top flight has been weak this year but the fact remains that no other top league in Europe still boasts a side who has yet to taste defeat.
They are going to be an extremely difficult opponent for any team in the Champions League upon their return next season and if there is one area which needs improvement ahead of their European adventure then it is in attack.
At the back they have Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Stephan Lichtsteiner and a revitalised Andrea Barzagli who will be tough for any team to score against as we have witnessed this season with just 18 goals conceded so far.
Their midfield is packed with steel, grit and guile throughout (although Arturo Vidal perhaps exemplifies all three of these characteristics) with the likes of Vidal, Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio but it is in attack where they have struggled at times.
Mirko Vucinic is a player who simply is not consistent enough but who is very much capable of torturing European defences as he did frequently in his Roma days, Fabio Quagliarella is all too often in the treatment room and Alessandro Matri, while he may be a good striker in the league, is just not the kind of front man you pin European hopes on.
However, as Napoli’s time in the Champions League proved, Edinson Cavani is very much that kind of player. In arguably the toughest tournament in football, the striker scored five times and set up two against quality opposition demonstrating that he is perfectly suited to this level.
The danger that both he and Juventus would pose to the rest of the continent next season, should they unite, would ensure that no team would want to draw the Bianconeri. A strong defence and an attack spearheaded by one of the most potent strikers in football in recent years, having hit the back of the net 63 times in the past two seasons for both club and country, would worry any opponent.
He would essentially be the final piece of the puzzle for Juventus and the move makes perfect sense but only if he were to receive the kind of service at Juventus Stadium as he does with Napoli where the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marek Hamsik and Christian Maggio are a major reason for his success.
The importance of these players and the role they play in selflessly creating space and chances for Cavani cannot be underestated and Juventus would need to be sure that he would be the focal point of their attack through whom a great deal of their attacking play would flow because this has worked wonders for the player at his current club.
It certainly is an interesting potential transfer to keep an eye on should Napoli fail to clinch their Champions League place because Cavani is clearly too good to be playing Europa League football. But it would be admirable if he were to stay at the San Paolo and attempt to make his way back into the competition with the club who have propelled him to widespread recognition.
Then again, he may feel that his talent deserves higher platform and if he does end up in the famous black and white of Juventus next season, it is a mouthwatering prospect to see how far he could help take them in Europe.
Do you think Cavani will leave Napoli at season's end? Where will he fit into the Juventus line-up, should he make the move? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below...