While he was busy training with the Uruguay national squad in Brazil ahead of the Confederations Cup, Edinson Cavani took some time out to speak with Sky Sports.
The subject of the discussion, naturally, was the strong interest he'd been attracting from clubs in the Premier League, and instead of completely playing it down, as would be expected this soon, Cavani actually had a couple of things to say:
"I don't know it they made an offer for me, I just know that to be coached by someone like Manuel Pellegrini or Jose Mourinho would always be a pleasure.
[And] when the time is right, it would be great to play for one of these teams, because when I was a child, I imagined doing it — but now I am only thinking about Uruguay. In my career, I have always had to deal with rumours of me signing for another team and I just have to keep my feet on the ground."
I have to commend Cavani here — he's successfully managed to address his position in the transfer market, remark about both potential suitors presently reported as being interested, and done all of that while saying a whole lot but actually conveying next to nothing.
However, if you felt those quotes, at the very least suggested the striker had been swayed beyond a point of no return, let's set that straight in short order. When quizzed about the possibility and likelihood of working with Benitez, here's what he said:
"I don't know, I think that there are other factors that could change my future. I have a contract with Napoli but on the other hand there are conversations but everything is uncertain at the moment,
What I know is that I belong to Napoli, that I'm thinking about my national team because we have a very difficult qualifying game and we also have a very difficult tournament to deal with and after all these commitments, I'll think about what is going to happen."
So there you have it. It's a lot of smoke, but little substance. In terms of inferences, the least you can probably draw from reading that is that Cavani is aware of lingering interest (duh) and has been alerted to the possibility of incoming bids, assuming there aren't any on the table he's aware of already.
Further, the general feeling on Twitter the last couple of days had been that while the race to sign the Uruguayan was a two-horse one, the momentum had shifted slightly to Chelsea's side. With Cavani mentioning both managers, and therefore, both clubs in the same breath, the rumblings on the microblogging site could quite possible now be shrouded in doubt.
From a requirement standpoint, it's pretty clear we need him more, so I'd expect us to stand our ground in the event of a bidding war. Unfortunately, it also allows Napoli to negotiate from a position of power, so it's always possible that should we manage to beat out City early and emerge as the prime contenders for his signature, they wouldn't really hesitate to milk us at every step for an extra couple of million euros.
Another interesting thing to note? The Sky report states the release clause stands at a reported £53M.
Further, looking at Cavani's quotes, it should be fairly clear the player isn't presently focussed on anything other than the challenge at hand, which means movement on a potential deal could be rather slow till the time the Confederations Cup is in the way.
Once all footballing engagement is over though, the progress on the deal could be take a rather unpredictable route. With a really expensive player, in Aurelio de Laurentiis, an owner with a penchant for theatricality and exaggeration, and a really needy club at the core of it, this could very well snowball into the transfer saga of the season.