Reports emerged this week suggesting Manchester United are preparing a £56 million bid to sign Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani. The 27-year-old Uruguay international only arrived in the French capital 12 months ago but has cut a frustrated figure behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the pecking order at the Parc des Princes.
The Red Devils already possess one of the most dangerous strike forces in the world in Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney but how would the potentially record-breaking signing compare to the Netherlands front man?
I’m going to base my comparison not on the stats of last season in which neither one of them played a full campaign at their peak form but from the numbers in the 2012/13 season in which Van Persie won the Premier League Golden Boot and Cavani was names Serie A Top Scorer with Napoli.
That season Van Persie scored 26 goals and made 8 assists for United across 38 appearances in the Premier League whilst Cavani scored 29 goals and made four assists across 34 appearances for Napoli in Serie A.
The Dutch ace achieved the higher pass completion rate of 80.2% success to Cavani’s 77.9%, despite the fact Van Persie also made more passes, 26.9 passes per game on average than Cavani who made 20.5 per game.
Van Persie also made twice the number of key passes per game on average, 1.8 to Cavani’s 0.9 per game. However, whilst the Dutchman was more accurate and consistent in his passing, the Uruguayan was more confident in possession of the ball, evidenced by his 1.1 successful dribbles per game to Van Persie’s 0.7 per game.
Cavani was also disposed almost half as often, 1.1 times per game to Van Persie’s twice per game on average. Cavani also took more shots, 4.6 per game on average to Van Persie’s 3.7 but Van Persie’s earned his team more free kicks, being fouled more often, 1.4 times per game to Cavani’s 1.1 times per game.
Cavani was flagged offside less often than his Dutch counterpart, 0.9 times per game to Van Persie’s 1.2 times per game but the Red Devils’ star conceded fewer fouls, one per game on average to Cavani’s 1.4 per game.
In terms of finishing accuracy and efficiency, Van Persie took the higher percentage of shots on target this term with 46% of his shots hitting the target to Cavani’s marginally lower 45% although Cavani attempted a total of 78 shots with PSG this term to Van Persie’s 46 attempts for United.
Overall, Cavani, three years Van Persie’s junior, is slightly ahead of the United hero in terms of his ambition in front of goal, his confidence with the ball at his feet, and his contribution of goals and assists but Van Persie’s is the more creative in terms of providing chances for his teammates and getting involved in the build-up play – Van Persie has functioned at his best as a deep-lying forward where Cavani functions best as a traditional No.9 target man that spearheads attacking play.