Edinson Cavani is currently one of world football’s most divisive figures.
For some, he’s still the monster he was in Naples, waiting to re-assume his place in the conversation of the ‘world’s best strikers’ after finally being given the PSG #9 role he so craved.
For others, he’s a player past his prime, who misses chances he once buried in his sleep. Where has the clinical edge gone? Was it lost in the mire of three unconvincing years to the left of Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
Perspective plays a big role when analysing a man so fondly regarded in Italy.
When you look at the numbers and some of his recent performances closely, it may actually suggest the best is still to come.
Cavani is still the epitome of the modern striker. Quick, strong, powerful, with a tireless work rate and excellent technique.
He is also an impressive free kick taker and his trademark near post runs on set pieces/crosses often result in the back of the net bulging.
When deployed as a centre forward, Cavani is remarkably prolific. So far in 2016/17, he has 16 goals in 13 games for club and country.
Why he’s criticized
The criticism stems however, from the fact that he could have so much more.
Take a recent Champions league game against Arsenal in which Cavani showed his tremendous high points, but also his tendency to frustrate.
He caused Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi all sorts of trouble, setting the tone with a brilliant first minute header.
From then on, his movement and work rate had Arsenal at odds, and he realistically should’ve ended the game with at least a hat-trick.
A combination of careless finishing and an excellent showing from David Ospina saw to a performance only yielding a goal and a home point for his team.
Why the criticism is overbearing
When viewed closer, the PSG number 9 should really be considered in the same breath as the elite.
Physically and technically, as aforementioned, he has every tool required. Formidably equipped with pace and strength, and excellent movement.
It is merely the final lapses of concentration in execution which have let him down in Paris.
However, it would be unfair to judge Cavani on his PSG career alone, where the giant ego of Ibrahimovic cast its shadow and shunned Cavani to the left wing where his goal record still stood impressively.
As a number 9 in isolation, his goal record is magnificent. He consistently broke the 30 goal barrier in Naples, and is well on his way to doing so this season for Paris.
So what do we conclude from this?
In the eyes of some Cavani will never do enough, however, objectively speaking, his records speak for themselves.
PSG fans will hope they can get deep into the Champions league, and then of course we may see Cavani as a centre forward come into his own.
The sense is there that Cavani knows he can reinvigorate himself in this new PSG side and has started with the intent to do so.
Ultimately though, if PSG feel the absence of Ibrahimovic in the #9 role more than they feel the presence of Cavani, the Uruguayan is destined for an even tougher time from his critics and will ultimately be branded a failure in the French capital.
Written by Philip Byrne
Follow Philip on Twitter @Philipbyrne95
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