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Would Edinson Cavani fix Real Madrid’s offensive woes?

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The Uruguayan is a good fit....on paper.

Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Following a disappointing scoreless draw against Real Sociedad, in which, Real Madrid’s offensive issues reared their ugly heads once more, Los Blancos have immediately been linked to strikers that could help remedy the problem. Once such forward in the rumour mill is Edinson Cavani, who is currently a free agent after leaving Paris Saint Germain at the end of the 2019/20 Ligue 1 season.

Rumours like this generally come and go during crazy season and given how Real kicked off their LaLiga campaign, it would been more surprising if they weren’t linked to a shiny new striker. However, Cavani is an interesting option for Real Madrid.

Cavani, naturally, needs no introduction. The Uruguayan has been knocking goals in some of Europe’s top divisions for nearly a decade now and, across seven years in the French capital, the 33-year-old was able to establish himself as Paris Saint-Germain’s all time top goalscorer with nearly 200 goals in all competitions and nearly 50 goals in the Champions League. He hardly featured for the Partisans last season

So far, Cavani has been unable to find a new club with some Italian courters saying his seven million euro a year wages are too high. If Real can sign him up for a smaller deal than that, then Cavani would, on paper, be a great signing. He managed double figures every season he played at PSG barring this season where he only started seven matches and still managed to scored four goals. Football Reference only has Xg figures for his last three seasons and they are quite positive, with the Uruguayan outperforming his npxG in two of those campaigns.

There might be some concerns over how he might adapt to LaLiga, however, the platform Smarterscout doesn’t seem to believe he will have any issue. The scouting site ranks players contribution to a team from 0-99 with said numbers adjusted to the league they might be potentially playing in. Below is a graph showing Cavani’s 2018-19 season (where he played much more significant minutes than 2019-20) adjusted for the Spanish top flight.

Cavani 2018-19 adjusted numbers
Smarterscout

The Uruguayan is highly unlikely to better these numbers at Real Madrid, however as a short term option, a player one year out from this sort of production is pretty good for Los Blancos. Smarterscout assessment of Cavani in LaLiga is even more positive when compared to Karim Benzema’s numbers for 2019-20.

Cavani 18-19 vs Benzema 19-20
Smarterscout

Cavani appears to be a older, more goal oriented Karim Benzema which some might say is exactly what Real Madrid could do with right now. The main issues arise when one looks away from the paper, namely, convincing Cavani to take a smaller contract, both in wages and likely in length so Real can move on from the Uruguayan next summer.

The biggest issue, above all else, is if Real Madrid were able to get the perfect deal and bring Cavani into the side, would he even play. It’s here that I want to show one last Smarterscout chart for a forward nearly a decade younger than both Benzema and Cavani.

Benzema 19-20 vs Luka Jovic 18-19
Smarterscout

So far, Luka Jovic has largely been the master of his own downfall at Real Madrid. He has struggled with fitness and injury and spent the COVID-19 lockdown at the centre of controversy. However, should you believe Zidane, the coach has no issue with the Serbian despite the issues he has caused in the last 12 months and, no different than Cavani, he is only a season removed from these numbers as well as being just 23.

Since Ronaldo left and Real Madrid met the offensive brick wall they have encountered in the last two seasons, there has been plenty of fingers pointed. There are those who would blame the manager, for being so reluctant to rotate his forwards, there have been those who have blamed the players and there have been those who have blamed the board for the lack of options.

None or all three could be to blame, what remains clear, is that Real Madrid do have a player that can produce the sort of offensive numbers the team is demanding this season and he seems more likely to leave than to play consistently despite being chosen by said coach. At this point, it might just be time to ride and die with Zindine Zidane this season, he hasn’t led us astray so far.