The export of players from Argentina to Europe has created a modern day footballing gold trade. Argentinean clubs are forced to sell their best players to balance the books which enables European clubs to reap the rewards; resulting in some of the greatest players in modern day history plying their trade in Europe’s most elite leagues.
In recent times Europe has been blessed with the likes of Gabriel Batistuta, Hernan Crespo and Juan Román Riquelme. With recent flourishes of Sergio Agüero and Leo Messi added to that list, it is staggering the amount of talent the relatively small population of Argentina produces; Di Stefano and Maradona most notably among the best. Continuously these players head to Europe at a young age and for a big fee - straight to the top level. This however has not been the case for Fernando Cavenaghi. He has taken a more indirect route to establishing himself in Europe, but now things seem to be fitting into place, and finally it’s time for Europe to take a look at arguably Europe’s most underrated talent.
Fernando Ezequiel Cavenaghi was born in Buenos Aires in 1983. He was widely tipped to be the next Batistuta as he scored 17 goals in 23 games for River Plate in his first full season. Despite the signings of established players Juan Esnaider and Daniel Fonseca, Cavenaghi managed to break into the first team early on. Cavenaghi's game is undoubtedly all about goals. It is his efficiency in front of goal with either foot and from any range that cemented “Cavegols” place in the first team and as the 2002 closing championship got underway he was seen as River’s main attacking threat. Cavenaghi struggled with his physical condition on his entry to professional football and gained the nickname of “Fatboy” but after managing to control his diet he is now widely known as the more affectionate “Little Bull”.
No Love from Russia
After three seasons with River and 55 goals, the next logical step for the Argentine would be to move to Europe. Still relatively unproven at the time, the big clubs showed no interest, so in 2004 he arrived in Moscow to sign for Spartak for £6.5 million. Russia, a country renown for its wealth, has been a trap for greedy and unscrupulous agents and it took another victim with Cavenaghi. Fernando’s time in Russia was clearly a culture clash for the player from South America as he struggled to fit into the lifestyle and adapt to the Russian game. It was now a real concern that the calls from then Argentinean national team were not coming, things could and would not continue this way for Cavenaghi as he sought to move away from the Eastern block.
Back on Track
In January 2007 a lifeline was handed to Cavenaghi when he moved to France for a similar fee to that of which Spartak paid for his services from River. The goals game thick and fast for Argentinean. 22 goals in 35 games saw a successful campaign as he helped Bordeaux take their highest place in the French league since 1990 including a run of 10 goals in 9 games which ensured Cavenaghi a spot in the hearts of the Bordeaux fans. Cavenaghi now seems more at home in the warmer and more familiar climate of Bordeaux. More importantly the media hype has grown and Fernando Cavenaghi was rewarded with his dream call up to the Albicelestes.
He recently featured for 16 minutes against the USA when he replaced Maxi Rodriguez. It is here that the dream continues, but also here where a new problem is clear. Cavenaghi’s substitution was not like for like and it is because of this that Fernando is going to struggle to cement his place for Argentina. Competition is already fierce, but even more so for Cavenaghi as he is trying to fit into what is a niche position for Argentina. It is all a question of how Alfio Basile wishes to line up the national team; the likelihood is that the team will be flooded with players oozing with flair and creativity and that is not Cavanaghi’s game. Against Ecuador: Messi, Riquelme and Aguero were fielded as the attacking three; proof Basile may not even play with one out and out striker.
Where Cavenaghi lies in the pecking order is unknown but he will struggle to overthrow player such as Hernan Crespo, Diego Milito, Julio Cruz and Porto’s top goal scoring talent Lisandro Lopez. Therefore he must be the best pure Argentine centre forward this can only happen if he gets a big move. Although he joined Bordeaux just a short while ago, if the chance comes around one cannot blame Fernando Cavenaghi for taking it, he’s waited long enough.