With Luis Suarez on the bench as his recovery from injury continues in a race against the clock to be fit to face England and Italy, Edinson Cavani was relied upon as the main man for Uruguay against Costa Rica.
The Paris Saint-Germain star scored a first-half penalty but his side slipped to a shock defeat in the second half - what will his watching suitors have made of it?
|PERFORMANCE AGAINST COSTA RICA
Uninspired, even if it seemed for a while that he would be the match-winner and Uruguay's surprise defeat owed more to their defensive deficiencies. Cavani's evening began badly, with a shot skewed wildly wide off the outside of his right boot, but improved when, although he does not boast the best of records from 12 yards, he calmly converted a penalty.
A third chance, well saved by Keylor Navas, illustrated his aerial ability. Cavani has the spring and the technique of a fine header of the ball; though it was an attribute which Uruguay scarcely utilised. They did not fashion enough chances and Cavani, leading the line against three Costa Rican centre-backs, was starved of service.
A couple of incidents illustrated that he can drop off to link play and lay the ball off to the midfielders (although Uruguay's central duo, in a rigid 4-4-2, showed little inclination to come forward). When, with the Celeste trailing, he briefly wandered out to the left, he fashioned an opening with a clever one-two but his country desperately missed the speed, skill and spark of the injured Suarez. The Liverpool forward can create chances for himself but Cavani did not show the same knack for making something happen and was reliant on his undistinguished team-mates.
|HE'D BE PERFECT FOR...
Most clubs who actually need – as opposed to merely want – a striker and can afford a man who cost PSG £54 million, despite this forgettable display. Cavani's goalscoring record (129 in four seasons), rugged running and ability to operate as a lone striker equip him to play for virtually anyone. As his international career has been alongside a partner, whether Suarez or Diego Forlan, he is also adept at being half of a front duo.
|WORLD CUP SOCIAL HUB
|Keep up with all the latest news from Brazil and get involved in the debate on Twitter with our new World Cup Social Hub|
Cavani has been mentioned most in connection with Manchester United, although the feeling is that he was more a target for the club than for new manager Louis van Gaal and that a deal will not be pursued. If, as expected, Robin van Persie is the focal point of the attack for his fellow Dutchman – and it is worth remembering that Van Gaal's teams rarely play with two strikers – it still leaves the question of where Wayne Rooney plays. The issue would be complicated if Cavani were to arrive just as, indeed, it was at PSG where the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the use of 4-3-3 meant that one of the world's deadliest strikers spent much of the season on the right wing.
Cavani had one high-profile admirer in Roberto Mancini, who wanted to take him to Manchester City before the club sacked the Italian and signed the cheaper pair of Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic. Conscious of Financial Fair Play, City will not resurrect their interest.
|WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
That depends on Cavani and PSG. Is he sufficiently eager to play as a centre forward, instead of as a right winger, that he will agitate for a move? And are PSG, who seem utterly oblivious of FFP rules, suddenly cash-conscious enough to try and balance the books by selling one of their prized assets? If, as is likely, the answer to both questions is 'no', he will remain in France. Otherwise, it could take a huge bid to extract Cavani from Paris.