El Matador set to strike again
By I. Holyman
Edinson Cavani has terrorised Ligue 1 Conforama opponents over the last five seasons, and there is no reason to suspect the Paris Saint-Germain striker will not be a defender's worst nightmare once again in 2018-19.
The Uruguay international has been at the capital club since 2013, and after the summer 2016 departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain have seen his goal return increase to prodigious proportions.
With the imposing Ibrahimovic playing through the middle of the front three, Cavani's ability get in front of goal was more limited; the Swedish superstar's departure has allowed El Matador to spend more time in the one area of the pitch where he really flourishes: the penalty area.
The former Palermo and Napoli striker finished top of the division's goalscoring chart for a second successive season last term, and though he fell short of the stunning 35 league strikes he plundered in 2016-17, his haul of 28 was still six more than any other player managed.
It put him inside the top ten in the race for the European Golden Shoe - seventh place to be exact, sandwiched between Inter Milan's Mauro Icardi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo - and was the fruit of the sort of shooting accuracy Jason Bourne would be proud of. No less than 50% of Cavani's 56 on-target shots found the back of the net as he provided a deadly spearhead to a free-scoring PSG side that plundered a massive 108 goals in total.
The title-winners almost always dominated possession in their domestic encounters, and Cavani ensured that it was anything but sterile, giving Unai Emery's men a surgical cutting edge with 23 of his 28 goals coming from open play.
But the industrious forward, who is known as one of the hardest working strikers in the game, remains happy to simply be the focal point of his team's attack, rather than be singled out as a star.
"I focus a lot more than on the collective than the individual. I always aim to give the maximum," said Cavani, whose 'MCN' partnership with Kylian Mbappé and Neymar Jr produced a whopping 60 league goals for PSG. "The most important thing is that we win and hopefully win the trophy in the end."
PSG did, making a clean sweep of all four pieces of domestic silverware, and in scoring the goals to help them do that, Cavani collected some more individual accolades en route.
His brace in the 5-0 win over Angers SCO in Week 12 saw him join Ibrahimovic and Gonzalo Higuain as the only players to have scored 100+ goals in two of Europe's five major leagues while he passed his former PSG teammate with his strike against Montpellier Hérault SC in January, taking his PSG tally to 157 goals, more than any other player to have worn the Rouge-et-Bleu shirt.
He had had the honour of scoring his club's 2500th Ligue 1 Conforama goal earlier in the season, and ended the campaign by also moving ahead of Ibrahimovic as PSG's all-time leading league scorer with his double strike against EA Guingamp late in the season.
"I didn't know that I had set a new record, but I'm happy to have written a little more history with this shirt," Cavani, who now has 116 goals in 165 league starts for PSG, told French TV channel Canal+.
As one of only four men to have registered a century of league goals for the club from the French capital, he has certainly earned his place in its record books. And 2018-19 promises to give him the chance to cement his place among the pantheon of PSG greats.