Edinson Cavani is, in terms of pure talent, one of the best strikers in the world. Unfortunately, over the last few years we’ve rarely gotten to see his talent on display, with the fiery Uruguayan suffering from long spells of poor form ever since he arrived at Paris Saint-Germain in 2013. On Friday, though, Cavani exploded, scoring four goals in the first half for PSG against Caen, giving another glimpse of hope that maybe, just maybe, Cavani might be returning to the best version of himself again.
The Cavani that once rampaged all over Italy, starring for Napoli in Serie A and the Champions League, was notably absent during much of the past three years. The reason why was never clear, it just seemed he did not have the same drive and work rate and lethality that he’d shown in Naples. It didn't help that he often played out wide due to the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Some had hoped that, with Ibrahimovic gone, we might see Cavani return to form this season, but things didn’t start out so well. Cavani had a number of notable misses and miscues in PSG’s first couple of matches, leading many to think that he was on the same course to mediocrity as the last few years.
Recently, though, something has started to click. Even as much of PSG’s squad has been struggling, Cavani has looked stronger, scoring their lone goal against Monaco in a 3-1 loss, and being PSG’s best player by far in a pair of 1-1 draws against Saint-Etienne in league action and in a goalscoring effort against Arsenal in the Champions League. Then Friday happened, with Cavani exploding for four goals in one half, and optimism is rising for fans of the striker again.
It’s not just the fact that Cavani is scoring goals, either. He’s been getting back to the other parts of his game that made him so good in the past as well — always active, dropping back into midfield both to defend and pick up the ball for possession, swinging in and out of wide areas as needed, and generally making himself as big a nuisance for the opposing team as possible.
For so long those aspects were largely missing from Cavani’s game, and it hurt the quality of his performances on the pitch. Be it because of coaching or injuries or poor motivation or whatever else, it was gone and Cavani wasn’t near as good as he had been before because of it. Now, under Unai Emery, that side of Cavani’s game is back, and the improvement in his quality on the pitch is significant.
Maybe it’s just a positive blip in Cavani’s form like we’ve seen before, but other such blips weren’t accompanied by the rest of his game coming back like it has. If Cavani’s resurgence is for real, Paris Saint-Germain can be a force to be reckoned with because this team is built to succeed with him up top — Lucas Moura and Angel Di Maria are the perfect wide players to accompany him, and the various midfield trios PSG can roll out behind him all work well with his style in a way that hasn’t always been there in the past few years.
This PSG side may not be quite as star-studded as it once was, but they’re better balanced. With an in-form Cavani leading the charge, they can be a force to be reckoned with — not to mention just how much fun Cavani can be when he’s in-form and enjoying life on the pitch. A happy Cavani who’s playing well is a blessing for everyone, Paris Saint-Germain fans and neutrals alike, so let’s hope for a lot more success for him in the season to come.