Friday 02 June 2017, 16:08

Cavani: I always tried to copy Batistuta

  • Edinson Cavani top scorer in Ligue 1, South American qualifiers

  • Uruguayan speaks about extending his contract at PSG

  • Cavani also discusses idol Batistuta and his evolution as a striker

Edinson Cavani is in the form of his life. A haul of 35 goals in as many appearances established him, by some distance, as Ligue 1’s top scorer for 2016/17. That tally was all the more impressive as Paris Saint-Germain underperformed on the whole, missing out on the title for the first time in five years.

Cavani has proved just as prolific on the international stage, too, where he leads the scoring chart in South America’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifiers. Uruguay’s campaign has not always run smoothly, but they now sit third in the table – largely thanks to nine goals in 11 outings, including six in his last six, from the PSG star.

La Celeste will need Cavani to be at his best once again when they go up against under-pressure neighbours Argentina in their next qualifier on 31 August. And that game was among the subjects as the prolific striker spoke to FIFA 1904 magazine in an interview that also touched upon his new contract at PSG and an Albiceleste idol. A selection of his answers can be found below, with the full interview in the latest edition of FIFA 1904.

FIFA 1904: At the end of April you extended your contract with Paris Saint-Germain until 2020. That was interesting timing, given the club had just lost its league title to Monaco and was knocked out of the Champions League early. Edinson Cavani: The things you mention had no bearing on my contract negotiations. I feel trusted here – I’m comfortable in Paris. And, let’s not forget, I’m fortunate to be playing at the top of one of the best leagues in world football, here. At Paris Saint-Germain we may have missed our targets but, believe you me, that’s a motivation for me. We still have plans here.

You were just 20 when you left Uruguay. There were a lot of things that could have gone wrong for you in Europe. Well, if you’re constantly analysing everything, thinking about every possibility, somewhere along the line you will reach the conclusion that there could be a risk involved in a particular decision. But that’s not what it’s about. I worked hard in Uruguay. I had a dream, right from being a little boy. I had to grab that opportunity at Palermo – anything else was out of the question. Luckily, everything went well. I had six great years in Italy.

Is it true you were a big fan of Gabriel Batistuta as a boy? To this day. Batistuta wasn’t a typical striker. A powerful footballer who was incredibly effective in front of goal. I always tried to copy him. I still do, a little bit.

Why did you become a striker? As a boy, I was a midfielder. Even then, though, I felt the urge to take the ball towards the goal. When I enter a stadium nowadays, I can sense how much I’ve internalised this position. Goals fulfil me. They are part of me. Goals are football.

There’s a key game against Argentina coming up for your country. It’s a crucial game, there’s no doubt about that. We’re close to qualifying for Russia 2018. But what does that mean? You can quickly find yourself playing catch-up and losing a couple of places in the table. The four remaining games are all important – and that includes the ones against Paraguay, Venezuela and Bolivia... Every time I get to pull on the Celeste jersey, it’s a special feeling. I only have to think back to the last World Cup in Brazil. It was a one-off, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.