The hopes of many Napoli fans were dealt a cruel blow on Sunday morning when Aurelio De Laurentiis took to Napoli’s website and declared that Napoli wouldn’t be bringing Edinson Cavani back this summer. A further blow was taken on Monday when Paris Saint-Germain declared their transfer business finished. Napoli fans shouldn’t feel too hurt, though — Cavani was never coming back this summer, and should never have come back this summer — and that’s perfectly fine.
While many have long wished a return for Cavani, things kicked off late last week when he was supposedly spotted in a Naples hotel. It was shortly after proven that he was in Paris at the time preparing for PSG’s match against AS Monaco on Sunday, a match that Cavani’s team lost 3-1, but he started and scored their only goal. That didn’t stop rumors, however, causing Aurelio De Laurentiis to make his statement:
I’m a big fan of Edinson Cavani. We had great fun with him during his time in Naples. He scored so many beautiful goals - 104! But it’s difficult to bring a player to Napoli who we’ve had in the past.
It’s not so much that it would seem like reheated soup, but that Napoli evolves tournament by tournament, assuming several different ways of playing.
That’s why I always say we need young players, and the new arrivals who have already come in this year will contribute greatly to the success of Napoli. If we’re talking about strikers, players like [Arkadiusz] Milik and [Manolo] Gabbiadini are great prospects who could find their consecration in Naples.
We’re responsible for the future of the team, and we have to make efficient moves. We don’t need to enchant anyone. The fans are there by faith, not because of which players we choose.
-Source: SSC Napoli official site
De Laurentiis touches a bit on the biggest problem Cavani would face in Napoli, though he declined to dig too far into it in his statement. If Cavani were to return to Naples, fans would expect him to be the same dominant, high energy, rampaging force Cavani he was when they sold him three years ago. The truth, though, is sadly evident when you watch him play — Cavani is not that striker any more.
Injuries and poor form have sapped Cavani of much of his energy and effectiveness — he’s slow-footed where he was once explosive, clumsy where he was once certain, and inefficient where he was once lethal. It’s actually been saddening to watch him play the past couple of years, and while there would certainly be some hope that a return to Napoli could help Cavani find himself again, that’s so far from a certainty that it’s not worth the risk for the club right now.
Right now, Napoli need a certainty if they’re going to bring in another striker, something that’s looking less and less likely anyways. Cavani is currently not that certainty. Nostalgia has its place, but in the here and now it’s not the right fit, and not the right time. Cavani coming back would be something that would be welcome in the future when there’s more margin for error — but right now there’s very little, so Napoli must look elsewhere.