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Mercato Madness: Don't get too worked up about Ezequiel Lavezzi rumors

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The papers are banging the drums on an "inevitable" return to Napoli for PSG outcast Ezequiel Lavezzi, but reality is a harsh mistress, because it's almost definitely not happening.

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Two and a half years ago, Napoli lost one of it's best players, and arguably the fans' favorite. Ezequiel Lavezzi, El Pocho, left Naples on a big-money transfer to French giants Paris Saint-Germain. Napoli couldn't afford to give Lavezzi a new contract at wages worth his value at the time, and PSG offered him a chance for league-winning and Champions League-pushing glory. The fact that they gave him huge wages was nice, too, I'm sure.

Things haven't worked out so swimmingly for Lavezzi in France, though. He scored just three goals in his first league campaign with PSG, though his five strikes in Champions League play did ease that hurt somewhat. Lavezzi scored nine last season after Edinson Cavani followed him from Napoli, but by the end of the season it was clear that Lavezzi was seen as a secondary piece in PSG's plans, and exit rumors sparked up over the summer.

Now it's become even more clear that Lavezzi just doesn't fit with PSG's vision. He's started just five times in Ligue 1 this season, and only twice more in Champions League play. He's shown only a fraction of his normal verve and drive on the pitch, and it's apparent that Lavezzi feels every bit the outcast he's become in Paris. That's fueled rampant speculation that PSG will let him go in January, and with Napoli's need for another attacker, Italian papers are pounding hard at the "returning hero" storyline.

But it's not going to happen.

Yes, Lavezzi returning to Naples would be wonderful. He could fill the void left by Lorenzi Insigne's injury, score some more magical goals, and help vault Napoli to the respectability this club deserves. But financial logistics are a thing in the football world, and just like those logistics forced Napoli to sell him before, they'll keep Napoli from bringing Lavezzi back.

With PSG up against a Financial Fair Play investigation and needing to bring better balance to their books over the next few years, they need to not just get Lavezzi's huge wages (nearly €150,000) off the books, they need to get a decent fee for him to help make this season's FFP numbers look better. In this case, a "decent fee" is likely going to be somewhere around €10-12 million, which is more than Napoli can afford to spend on one player in January this season. Plus, Lavezzi's wages are even higher than Gonzalo Higuain's. Napoli simply cannot afford that, especially not for a player who turns 30 in a few months.

There are two scenarios in which a move to bring Lavezzi home could happen, but they're extreme longshots at the very best. PSG gives Lavezzi to Napoli on a fee-less loan for the rest of the season and pay half his wages. The two sides also pre-arrange a reasonable fee for the summer. The trouble with that, though, is that PSG need Lavezzi entirely off their books now in order to get healthier in terms of FFP and be able to make additions they need elsewhere.

PSG could also get desperate and flog Lavezzi off for a much lower fee at half or less of what paper speculation currently has them wanting. That plus Lavezzi giving the club that made him famous a huge wage discount could make a deal palpable for Napoli next month. Even if PSG got that desperate, though, other clubs would be lining up to take Lavezzi off the French club's hands, many of which wouldn't need Lavezzi to take as big a cut to his wages. It'd be a hard deal for Napoli to pull off.

Sentiment makes us want Lavezzi back. We all miss our Pocho. But cold reason makes us look at reality, and reality says that this deal just isn't happening. It'd be wonderful if it could, but there's simply too many hurdles to clear, too many obstacles to cross. Hopefully wherever Lavezzi winds up next lets him find the success he craves.