By Daniel Edwards | Uruguay Expert
It was supposed to be Edinson Cavani's summer showcase. The Napoli forward, along with Uruguay strike partner Luis Suarez, had found himself in the gaze of clubs such as Real Madrid, and a strong showing for the Celeste against the likes of Spain and Nigeria would have been the launchpad he needed to prove he is worth the staggering transfer fee demanded from southern Italy.
The gods of football, however, had other ideas. Suarez helped advance his chances of a move away from Liverpool with a sumptuous free kick against the world and European champions, a rare moment of light in an otherwise disappointing 2-1 defeat. Diego Forlan breathed new energy into that team off the bench, and followed up with an inspired 90 minutes against Nigeria which included a rocket of a goal, showing he still must be considered as a top-class forward.
| PLAYER RATING VS. SPAIN
|2/5||Tried to overpower Pique and Ramos with his physical game but the Spanish pair were just too strong. Never stopped trying.|
| PLAYER RATING VS. NIGERIA
When he did get in behind, he fired high and wide from a great position in the right channel, then fluffed his lines again as he headed well off target with only Enyeama to beat.
Even Abel Hernandez grabbed his chance with a wonderful quartet of goals as Tahiti were destroyed 8-0, while Suarez swooped late on to add his own double. Meanwhile, Cavani's contribution has been mediocre in the extreme.
The long-haired forward was not at fault against the Furia Roja, squeezed out and forced to chase down blind alleys due to the failings of the players further down the field. But, in a potential moment for redemption against Nigeria, the man who scored an impressive 38 club goals over 2012-13 missed two glorious, Forlan-supplied chances to squander the opportunity to put the game beyond doubt, leaving Uruguay to sweat until the final minute before securing a 2-1 victory.
Perhaps it is nothing more than coincidence, but this worrying dip in form has been accompanied by Cavani's own public doubts on whether he is worth his enormous buy-out clause. "I do not know if I'm worth €63 million, I'll have to talk with [Napoli president Aurelio] De Laurentiis. I have a lot of affection for the Azzurri, if I go it will be via the front door," the striker told Marca. Real Madrid appear to be deciding which Uruguayan star out of Suarez and Cavani will become Gonzalo Higuain's replacement in the Santiago Bernabeu, while Chelsea and Manchester City are both options for the player in the Premier League.
Napoli coach Rafa Benitez has different ideas, telling the radio arm of the Spanish daily that whomever wants to take Cavani will have to put up the full value of the release clause. A group of fans from the club, meanwhile, have different ideas. A banner recently appeared on the streets of Naples, betraying frustration with the star's reluctance to commit his future: "Cavani, listen to us and give us something to celebrate - get out now."
Wednesday night sees the Celeste take on their old South American rivals in the shape of Brazil, and after that daunting test against the hosts Cavani will have at least one more clash, be it in the final or the third-place play-off, to put his woes behind him and show his best. His immediate future, as he strives to justify the astronomical buyout clause that even he doubts is a fair figure, could depend on finding the net and leading Uruguay to international success.