Quite often, footballers should learn that silence is golden. After being linked by the Daily Mirror with a move to Manchester United this summer, Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani was quoted in GQ this week, complaining about the amount of goals he is capable of scoring.
“I would score many more goals if I played as a centre-forward,” crowed the forward. Completely disproving his point, on Friday night, he started beside Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Javier Pastore, in the same role he has been critical of, and scored his first-ever Ligue 1 hat-trick against Guingamp.
Recently his comments had gained some weight, scoring four in three games without Ibrahimovic in the line-up, but Friday showed just what he is capable of in Laurent Blanc’s 4-3-3 formation.
As has always been the case, with the Swedish forward continually dropping deep, the space was there, through the centre, for Cavani to exploit. The opening goal came after just two minutes.
Pastore found right-back Serge Aurier out wide, the Ivorian’s cross was inch-perfect, and Cavani was there in the penalty area to turn the ball past Jonas Lossl.
Two goals up at half-time, Cavani made it three just after the break when he calmly finished after Ibrahimovic found him with an outstretched left-foot pass.
The hat-trick came with 20 minutes to go, due to the intelligent play of Marco Verratti. The Italian had the awareness to play a quick free-kick over the top of the defence and the Uruguayan lashed the ball past the Danish goalkeeper.
PSG would win the game 6-0, but the match ball belonged to Cavani. His efforts took his tally to seven goals in four games - four while playing “on the wing” and also matching his league tally of 16 from last season.
The goals will show potential suitors that he is still capable of finding the back of the net on a consistent basis, regardless of where he is playing. This idea that he is playing out wide is nothing more than a fabrication. PSG’s system offers him all the freedom in the world to play through the centre, and it is only when defending that he needs to stay wide for the shape of the team.
In the Champions League, against the bigger teams, this is more prevalent, but it is up to Cavani to find the central space while attacking – and this has been his biggest flaw this season.
If Cavani was to concentrate more on scoring goals, rather than criticising tactics of his coach, perhaps more clubs would be willing to pay the reported €50 million that would be needed to prise him away from the Parc des Princes this summer.