By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Writer
Juventus have a habit of being linked with the whole world and its wife whenever they have a vacancy within their squad, and this summer was no different as the Old Lady looked to fill a gap in the centre of their forward line. Many a top name was overlooked or slipped through the net – or in some cases was never a serious consideration - leaving the Bianconeri still short of a top-class centre-forward heading into the 2012-13 season.
But one of the world-renowned strikers whose name was thrown in the hat in the summer months will be on show at Juventus Stadium on Saturday. Edinson Cavani was regularly referred to as a player Juve would do very well to add to their ranks, and the in-form hitman's visit with Napoli could well serve a reminder of just what Antonio Conte's side missed out on.
After successive 33-goal seasons, the Uruguayan has hit the ground running once more, bagging seven goals in all competitions for the Partenopei, while also finding the net once for his country despite their difficult run in World Cup qualifying. And in continuing to score at will without the presence of Ezequiel Lavezzi on Walter Mazzarri's teamsheet, the 25-year-old is confounding those who claimed that the Argentine was key to his success in Naples.
Goal machine | Cavani has picked up where he left off last season
Many have claimed that Juve are more in need of a traditional target man, one who can hold the ball up and build attacks from the front, but while that might be the case, Cavani has proven during his career in Serie A – and particularly since switching from Palermo to Napoli in 2010 – that he can add a variety of attributes to the attack.
The bottom line appears to be, though, that Juventus need goals. And once again Cavani is scoring them for Napoli. When comparing him with the strikers that the Turin side were linked with this summer – plus those who have been touted as possible January signings – 'El Matador' has a goalscoring record to match them all. And, with six of his seven strikes coming in Serie A, his need for adaptation would likely have been minimal. Also, that tally matches Juve's joint top-scorers Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco’s combined total.Other rumoured targets who have scored big include Liverpool's Luis Suarez, and Robin van Persie, who swapped Arsenal for Manchester United in August. Of the pair, Van Persie seemed the more likely to end up in Turin, and some Juventini still rue missing out on him, but at 29 the Dutchman would have been a shorter-term option than both Cavani and Suarez.
Dimitar Berbatov perhaps came as close as any forward to signing for the Scudetto holders, bailing out on Fiorentina to hold talks with Juve, but the club later decided against a move, and he has since endured an injury-hit start to his career at Fulham.
|THE WISHLIST | How Juventus' rumoured targets have fared in 2012-13
|Pablo Daniel Osvaldo||3||3||4||3|
|Robin van Persie||9||7||3||2|
Former Juve targets Gonzalo Higuain, Edin Dzeko and Robert Lewandowski have started reasonably well for Real Madrid, Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund respectively. Meanwhile, Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini, who were both mentioned as possible part-exchange arrivals involving Fabio Quagliarella or Alessandro Matri, have had moderate starts at their new clubs after switching sides in Milan. Cassano’s four goals have been crucial as Inter turn around their form, but it did take him a while to get going after arriving unfit and carrying extra weight, while Pazzini’s hat-trick against Bologna handed the Rossoneri one of their two league wins, but he has found game time hard to come by recently.
Fernando Llorente appears set to lead the way in Juventus' renewed striker search in January, but his start to the season has been made difficult due to his falling out with Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa. The No.9 has been forced to start from the bench in the league this term, resulting in him experiencing only 113 minutes of La Liga action so far. Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, who has emerged as a potential alternative to Llorente in Juve's eyes, has also had his issues, with a falling out with Roma coach Zdenek Zeman sandwiched between red cards for both club and country, all of which have restricted his game time.
So when Cavani steps out to take on the Old Lady on Saturday, he will be giving the home fans a glimpse of what might have been. And, if he continues his current form, he could yet persuade the Turin side's board to spend big in the transfer window and ensure that his goalscoring prowess comes to fruition for, rather than against, Juventus.