“We will know everything about [Edinson] Cavani’s future by the end of July. If not, I'll smack him!” joked Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis when quizzed about the constant transfer speculation surrounding his star striker earlier this month. The eccentric boss admitted to negotiations with Chelsea, but his insistence on potential suitors meeting a colossal £54m buy-out clause meant a move had stalled.
The 26-year-old was representing Uruguay in the Confederations Cup at the time, where hosts Brazil ultimately knocked them out, and his employer’s unique sense of humor was lost on him. “Those statements were strong and I did not really like them very much,” explained the much sought after striker, “I now want to speak to him face-to-face, like we have done on many separate occasions in the past.”
De Laurentiis was adamant talks with Cavani were “not necessary” when discussing the situation, and once again cited the buy-out clause as the only way any outfit could lure him to the negotiations table. Real Madrid remained the player’s first choice, according to several quotes attributed to his parents.
The entire affair has distraught the San Paolo faithful. “Ciao Cavani. A king dies, another one is created,” was an example of banners and t-shirts circulating the city in recent weeks. Rafael Benítez was appointment as Partenopei manager, but whether the forward would remain to surpass Diego Maradona’s 115 goals with the club or sign for one of Europe’s finest teams continued to overshadow the project.
The news that Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo was in De Laurentiis’s Filmauro film producing offices in Rome last week was the first major update in the saga for several weeks. It was then revealed that the French champions had met the clause in the former Palermo man’s contract until 2017. Personal terms have been reportedly been set at a significant £8.5m a season in a four-year deal.
Whether the Salto native is worth the incredible cost considering the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Luis Suárez and even Wayne Rooney appearing available for a considerably shorter fee remains the real question. His outstanding ability infront of goal - with 78 strikes in a mere three seasons at Napoli - was not the full package, as he is a complete player with a tireless work rate, which truly cements his place as world class.
Juventus boss Antonio Conte smirked when the subject of Cavani finalising a move to Paris was brought up in his first press conference of the new season. “PSG have given Napoli a great gift. I wished he would stay because we have almost always beaten them with him. Now they have £54m to spend instead.” The statement will not be appreciated by his arch rivals, but definitely hits home on just how much he costs.
Cavani will be missed throughout the peninsula; another top player leaving the country for a supposed lesser league such as Ligue 1 will always be perceived as a blow. Carlo Ancelotti’s move to Madrid and Leonardo’s resignation in his role in Paris was greeted with mild celebrations by Serie A supporters, as it means the club will tone down its focus on importing talent for Italy during every transfer window.
Napoli can now move onto the next chapter in their history. The memories of Cavani’s time with the club will forever be cherished despite the abrupt reaction to his outlook in the last two months. Winning a Coppa Italia in 2012 was the team’s first piece of silverware since the days of Maradona, and for that he will certainly be remembered and appreciated as a genuine hero while he takes the next step in his career.