Edinson Cavani, a league ‘full of farmers’ and the trouble with judging non-Premier League players

This week's 'The Take' congrats Edinson Cavani on becoming PSG's all-time top scorer but also asks how much that's worth

Congratulations are in order!

Edinson Cavani became PSG’s all-time top scorer at the weekend, tapping home his 157th goal for the Parisian club to overtake Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Being a club’s all-time leading scorer is quite the achievement, even if PSG were founded the same year Pep Guardiola was born.

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Annual reminder that PSG are a middle-aged club in human years

However, there’s no escaping the widely-held belief that Ligue 1 is a league ‘full of farmers’ and therefore anything achieved in France lacks credibility.

Personally I think one of Europe’s top five leagues (as per UEFA’s coefficient) is a respectable enough standard but for many, any league other than the sacred Prem is mocked.

There are genuine humans out there who think Lionel Messi wouldn’t be the best player in the league by a few light-years if he were to come to England — a terrifying thought.

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Could he so it on a cold, rainy night in Stoke? Of course he f**king could

Cavani has never failed to score 25+ goals in a season since he started playing his football in Europe.

The Uruguayan has scored 261 goals in 367 games for Napoli and PSG — and that number is hindered by the three years spent playing second fiddle to Zlatan.

Yet some are hesitant to place him alongside Europe’s best forwards of the last decade because of Serie A and Ligue 1’s reputations in certain circles.

Presumably, the doubters believe Cavani would be rendered average if he were to play in England?

Never mind that he’s scored 45 goals in 67 games in European competition…

Although to be fair, some have come against Arsenal

I’m no expert on Ligue 1, but from what I’ve seen the teams in the bottom half of the league really don’t offer much in the way of threat or resistance when up against the might of PSG.

But to discredit Cavani’s legacy as a result seems unfairly harsh on a very fine forward.

Neymar’s record-breaking transfer has provided us with something of a measuring stick.

One of the world’s best players, in his prime, is a good barometer of the overall standard of a league.

The Brazilian forward is favourite to be named Player of the Year in France having scored 17 goals in 16 games (second only to Cavani) and providing 11 assists, two ahead of Florian Thauvin in second place.

At times it’s looked like a kid from three years above joining in with a playground kick-about but he hasn’t made a complete mockery of the league.

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Flat-track bully?

He ended the 2014/15 season with 39 goals in all competitions for Barcelona meaning he needs another 13 goals this season to match his best ever tally.

Will he do it? Probably, but when PSG confirmed the deal some thought he’d rival Lionel Messi’s 2011/12 haul of 73 goals.

And we’re talking about probably the third best player in the world here — he’s expected to be the best player in any league that doesn’t include Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

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Being ‘too good’ for Ligue 1 is a status worth celebrating

Yes, the Premier League is the most competitive top league in the world.

But does that mean we should disregard 99% of the sport?

We’d be missing out on some wonderful players if so, not least Cavani.

Those who mock foreign leagues have plenty of ammunition for their argument.

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Exhibit A

Simone Zaza must go down as one of the biggest flops in recent Premier League history and yet only Messi, Luis Suarez and Iago Aspas have more La Liga goals to their name this season.

Radamel Falcao has plundered goals everywhere except on English soil.

Newcastle reject Thauvin is now one of the best midfielders in France while Alexandre Lacazette’s numbers have taken a dive since crossing the the channel in the reverse direction.

El Tigre roars again

However, there are so many factors at play in each case and it’s reductionist and overly simplistic to suggest that a player can’t be judged until they’ve proven themselves at the very top level.

Surely we are capable of drawing accurate conclusions and analyses of players based off their performances elsewhere?

Let’s remember that Ligue 1’s ‘farmers’ are actually players who defied the odds to become professional players and are talented enough to earn a small fortune on a weekly basis.

Dismiss Ligue 1, Serie A and even La Liga if you wish, but I think it’s a tragedy to deny yourself the pleasure of enjoying some of the world’s very best players.


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