Most Chelsea supporters pay attention to the Europa League mostly as a means of trolling Tottenham Hotspur fans. They are, after all, playing in the competition only because the Blues are the current holders of the European Cup following the 1-1 (4-3) victory over Bayern Munich last May. But Spurs aren't the only team involved in the competition -- last year's Champions League opponents Napoli are in as well.
And, mostly, they weren't doing so well. Walter Mazzarri had been treating the Europa League much like we would the Capital One Cup, using it to blood the kids without being overly worried by the results. But Napoli needed a win against Dnipro at the Stadio San Paolo, and so Edinson Cavani took the field. And scored four goals.
It's pretty odd, especially in an era when money completely dominates the sport, that the two best centre forwards in football ply their trade for Atletico Madrid and Napoli. The expectation, of course, is that both Falcao and Cavani move onto clubs with more spending power, and whenever one of them puts in a stellar performance, transfer rumours popped up in short order.
I thought I might as well pre-write a skeptical piece about the rumours we'll see tomorrow linking Cavani to everyone who has money and could use a big upgrade at striker. But then a flash of inspiration struck me. Instead of just predicting the next day -- easy enough, when the media is so utterly unimaginative, why not attempt to plot out the Matador's whole future?
And so, despite knowing full well the risks of seeing too deeply and learning too much, I found a goat, disemboweled it (tip: If you do this on public land, such as a school playground, you don't have to clean up) and studied the entrails, looking for guidance from the natural world. I found it. Here, via the aeons-old art of soothsaying, is the future history of Edinson Cavani.
November 9th, 2012
Cavani linked to Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain. Agent claims that the striker is 'happy to remain at Napoli but hopes to compete at the highest level, noting that all players dream of winning the Champions League'.
November 12th, 2012
Walter Mazzarri and Napoli owner Aurelio de Laurentiis insist that the club has no intention whatsoever of parting ways with their biggest asset, pointing out that retaining Cavani is vital to their hopes of competing for the Scudetto.
January 1st, 2013
Transfer window opens. Cavani generates a lot of traffic for a lot of newspapers. Chelsea, according to the British press citing 'sources close to Roman Abramovich', are favourite to sign the Uruguayan.
January 17th, 2013
Chelsea declare themselves 'out of the running' for Cavani following Romelu Lukaku's continued good form with West Bromwich Albion and Napoli's €60 million asking price. The bidding war continues, however, with no fewer than five major teams competing for El Matador's services.
January 31st, 2013
Real Madrid see off interest from Manchester City and Juventus to sign the 25-year-old to a five-year contract, paying Napoli a €50 million transfer fee for the striker. Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema are spotted crying during training when the news breaks.
Aurelio de Laurentiis, asked to comment about the sale, commandeers a yacht and makes sail for Minorca. His maniacal cackles carry back on the wind for hours.
May 25th, 2013
Cavani scores twice in the Champions League final as Real Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 at Wembley. Jose Mourinho is hospitalised after a severe smug overdose.
July 7th, 2013
News of Cavani's amazing feat on Nov. 8th of 2012 reaches the attention of magnificent alien beings, who become convinced he is a reincarnation of the Great Horned One believed to have founded all life in the universe. While on holiday in Montevideo, Cavani is found and whisked off into space.
Still no sign of El Matador. Real Madrid win a court case against Lloyds of London, who had insured the striker for several hundred million following his European-Cup winning display.
Cavani learns how to walk among the stars from his new friends, eventually bettering his masters thanks to his aerial ability and defensive prowess.
March 14th, 2088
Cavani is returned to the Solar System, emerging from a scythe-shaped single-person spacecraft onto the arrivals floor of the Herschel-Outness Space Station at Lunar L4. News of his arrival spreads quickly, and he immediately receives huge bids from Chelsea, Real Madrid, Anzhi Makhachkala and Grimsby Town for his services, but declines, claiming that he's 'moved beyond football and has been trained to walk a greater path'. Madrid make an even higher bid, offering twenty-two trillion euros a week, but the gesture insults El Matador, who erases Spain from existence with a single thought. No new offers are forthcoming.
Edinson, worshipped as 'the Cavani, Bull-god of humanity', guides his chosen people to the stars and beyond, teaching humanity the secrets of the universe as they expand across the Orion Spur and eventually, throughout the whole galaxy. Eventually, satisfied with his childrens' success, he leaves in the direction of the Pisces-Cetus Supercluster Complex. What he discovers there is beyond even the understanding of goat intestines.
The Cavani returns to Sol for sentimental reasons, watching as the now-red giant star's photosphere engulfs a barren and lifeless Earth.
Heat death of universe. Humans extinct. The Cavani endures.