Napoli’s New Top Scorer?

Napoli’s New Top Scorer?

Napoli have not won the Serie A title since over 20 years ago, when Argentina great Diego Maradona led them to their only two scudetti in addition to a UEFA Cup.

The joy Maradona brought during his 1984-1991 stint in Naples has bestowed almost legendary status on him in the southern city.

No one is ever likely to overtake him in the affections of Neapolitan soccer enthusiasts. But the current fans’ favourite, Edinson Cavani, is on the way to coming close.

Uruguay international Cavani may not have Maradona’s creative genius but he does share his eye for goal.

And if Napoli are in with a chance of winning their first league title since the Maradona years, it is thanks to Cavani.

The 10 goals the 25-year-old has notched so far this year have kept Napoli in the tails of reigning champions Juventus.

They trail the Turin giants, who top the table with 35 points from 15 games, by just two points after a Cavani double helped them to a 5-1 drubbing of Pescara on Sunday.

He has also scored six times in the Europa League to fire Napoli into the knockout round of the continent’s secondary club competition.

The fine form has fuelled Cavani’s ambition to one day outdo the master and overtake Maradona to become Napoli’s all-time top scorer.

The Uruguayan is 32 goals away from Maradona’s tally of 115 and, with five years to run on his contract, he has plenty of time to catch up.

‘Id like to do it (break Maradona’s record),’ Cavani said. ‘I’ve always said that I’d like to leave a mark on this city, but with my name, without thinking about other people’. Cavani, who scored five goals to help Napoli win the Italian Cup last season, was a fine footballer when he moved from Palermo in 2010.

He has developed enormously since though to become a truly complete player. He chases back hard when his team do not have possession and uses his 1.88m of height to good effect when they have to defend dead-ball situations.

And his goal-scoring skills have been compared to those of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, as well as Maradona’s.

Cavani is confident that he and his teammates have what it takes to go all the way in the title race.

‘We have a fantastic group and we can do a lot for ourselves and for our fans, who deserve to relive the emotions (that they enjoyed with past triumphs),’ he said.

‘We have to fight to achieve the maximum target. I think we are mature enough (as a team) to have big ambitions’.

(ANSA) – Rome, December 3 – by Paul Virgo

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