Cavani, who completed a move to Manchester United, finished his career with Les Parisiens as one of their best ever players. He ended up as their highest goal-scorer with 200 goals in 301 appearances. However, in the 2019-2020 season, PSG brought Mauro Icardi in on loan to replace the ageing Uruguayan. Cavani was not seen as part of Thomas Tuchel’s plans anymore and was slowly phased out the team.
The controversial Argentinian has played well for PSG, scoring 20 goals in 34 appearances last year. Nevertheless, there are still questions over whether he can truly replace Cavani’s influence in the club.
Mauro Icardi to Replace Edinson Cavani at Paris Saint-Germain After Uruguayan Joins Manchester United
Icardi at Inter Milan
Icardi was a controversial figure at Inter Milan. He threatened the Inter fans in his autobiography by saying he would “bring 100 criminals from Argentina who will kill them on the spot.” He was also stripped of the captaincy just before he left for PSG. Even with all these controversies, the former Sampdoria man did well for the Nerazzuri.
He spent six seasons at the San Siro and scored over 124 goals for the club, during a time in which Inter were finishing well out of the champions league spots. You would think Inter would miss his goals, but with Romelu Lukaku coming in and flourishing alongside Lautaro Martínez, it is fair to say the Inter faithful have forgotten all about Icardi.
Icardi Compared to Cavani
Cavani and Icardi are two completely different profiles. Cavani is a hardworking striker who is willing to sacrifice his own numbers for the good of the team. An example of this was when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was at the club and Cavani had to play out on the wing. The Uruguayan was one of the world’s best strikers but still accepted his role. A sign of his team-first mentality.
He is willing to track back and help win the ball in deeper positions and link-up play. On the other hand, Icardi is a poacher. He waits around for chances in the box and when he gets chances, he is ruthless. He does not work as hard as Cavani defensively and he does not drop back to link up play in midfield. Nevertheless, he is more clinical than the ex-Napoli man, who was known for missing a few chances before he would score.
An example of Icardi’s predatory instincts was in his two goals against Stade de Reims recently. His first goal was a ball played to him in the box. He took a touch to his right-hand side and slotted it in. The second came from the good work of Kylian Mbappe on the left-wing. After playing a one-two with Julian Draxler, he played the ball to Icardi, who tapped the ball into an empty net. A mixture of good positioning and ruthlessness, a perfect example of Icardi’s game. But what happens when Icardi does not receive the service he needs in order to score? The answer is that he becomes almost anonymous on the pitch.
Champions League Failures
An example of this was the Champions League quarter-final against Atalanta. For the whole game, Icardi was anonymous. His movement was non-existent and he did not look like a goal threat the whole game. This led to manager Thomas Tuchel dropping the Argentinian against RB Leipzig, instead playing Neymar as a false nine.
The Brazilian played excellently and Tuchel stuck with this formula in the final. Even when PSG were one goal down, the German still did not put on Icardi, preferring to put on Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – the hero of the quarter’s against Atalanta. An obvious sign of the lack of faith Tuchel had in the ex-Inter talisman.
Tuchel has done well beforehand with similar players to Icardi. An example of this is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at Dortmund. He turned the ex-winger into a goalscoring machine at Dortmund. By utilising his space and movement, the Gabonese recorded seasons of scoring 39 and 40 goals back to back.
Even though the general perception would be that Icardi is a better finisher, Aubameyang worked much harder than Icardi, which is why he performed so well under Tuchel. There have been times in which Icardi looked lazy and sometimes out of shape.
The one thing that is certain though is that underneath Tuchel, laziness is not permitted. If Icardi wants to truly replace Cavani and become part of a trio alongside Neymar and Mbappe, he needs to get back to the Icardi at Inter. If he does not do so, Icardi’s stay in Paris will be a short-lived one.