Edinson Cavani scored his 100th goal in all competitions for Paris St Germain in their 2-0 Ligue 1 victory over Angers on Wednesday, but the Uruguay international still cannot escape the shadow cast by his predecessor Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Cavani became the fourth PSG player to reach 100 when he struck a penalty for his 14th league goal of the season as Unai Emery’s side secured their 11th victory of campaign to climb above Monaco into second place on 35 points.
Yet despite his form, doubts persist about whether Cavani is the right man to help PSG establish themselves as genuine European heavyweights.
The spectre of Ibrahimovic, who departed for Manchester United this year after scoring 156 goals and winning four French titles, has hardly helped his successor.
“When I came, we talked a lot about Ibrahimovic,” Emery told reporters. “It’s understandable because he was important here and had some great seasons.”
Cavani often cut a frustrated figure during three years overlapping with Ibrahimovic, often being shoe-horned into a wide role while the Sweden international led the line.
He continues to be the subject of scorn for his profligacy in front of goal, and frustrated the home supporters by being flagged offside on six occasions before converting a penalty on Wednesday after Hatem Ben Arfa was fouled by Romain Thomas.
Heading into the match, Cavani had averaged a league-high four shots per game this season, with an underwhelming accuracy rate of 54 percent, significantly lower than Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon (78 percent) and Nice’s Alassane Plea (65 percent), the two players directly beneath him in the scoring charts.
But Emery believes Cavani has the quality to prove he can be the leading man the club crave following Ibrahimovic’s exit.
“Cavani was in the shadow of a player like Ibrahimovic and he was playing on the wing,” Emery told El Pais. “He now has the opportunity to lead the line.
“For me, it’s a challenge he’s capable of,” the coach added. “I’ve spoken to him a lot and he can do more.”
Cavani may have joined PSG’s 100 club, but there is still room for improvement as he looks to emerge from Ibrahimovic’s shadow.