Tuesday’s 1-1 Champions League draw between Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal yielded two story lines which have gone on to dominate this morning’s headlines. It’s just a matter of perspective: either David Ospina, selected to start over normal Arsenal No. 1 Petr Cech, earned Arsenal a point, or PSG striker Edinson Cavani squandered all three for the home side.
Ospina made three massive saves for Arsenal and was blameless for PSG’s opener. On the other side, Cavani notched the opener for Paris, but he couldn’t find the back of the net when presented with four other glorious opportunities.
One of those misses, in the match’s 34th minute, was as glaring as they come at this level. Having rounded Ospina and presented himself with an open net, Cavani could only manage to steer the ball about a yard wide of the near post.
The miss conjured memories of the sitter Fernando Torres fluffed against Manchester United in September of 2011.
The similarities between Torres at Chelsea and Cavani at PSG don’t stop at missing empty nets.
Fernando Torres joined Chelsea from Liverpool on January 31st, 2011 as a 26-year-old. Edinson Cavani joined Paris Saint-Germain from Napoli on July 16th, 2013 as a 26-year-old.
Torres joined for €59, which made him, at the time, the sixth most expensive footballer in history. Cavani joined for €64, which, at the time, made him the sixth most expensive footballer in history.
Torres played for Chelsea for three-and-a-half largely unsuccessful seasons, leaving at the age of 30. His final season with Chelsea resulted in a meager return of five league goals, his lowest total since his first year as a professional.
The criticism at Chelsea, and the fact that the move simply hadn’t worked out for Torres or Chelsea, resulted in the striker leaving for AC Milan at the start of the 2014 season.
Cavani has begun his fourth season with PSG, he’ll turn 30 in February. Having played second fiddle to Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his first three seasons with PSG, Cavani is now in the limelight as the undisputed first choice striker.
Cavani’s first three seasons with PSG didn’t come close to matching the success he achieved with Napoli. He’s yet to approach the goal scoring totals he achieved in Serie A, although France’s Ligue 1 is a decidedly easier league, especially so when you’re playing with the back-to-back-to-back-to-back champions.
It’s only mid-September, but the criticism surrounding Cavani has already reached a fever pitch. While he remains a devastating combination of strength, pace and footballing intelligence, his ability to finish has, like Torres at Chelsea, been shaken to the core.
Even when he manages to find the back of the net, like he did in 42 seconds on Tuesday, the uncertainty and fragility plaguing his game remain inexorable.
He’s a man that appears to be carrying the burden of a heavy curse, destined to move on from PSG and find solace in pastures new.
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