PARIS, France: Edinson Cavani was on Tuesday officially unveiled as Paris Saint-Germain’s latest mega-signing, the striker joining the French champions for a Ligue 1 record 64 million euros ($84 million) from Napoli.
The 26-year-old Uruguay international, Serie A’s top scorer last season with 29 goals, has joined Laurent Blanc’s expensively-assembled Qatari-backed side on a five-year contract.
The deal makes Cavani the fourth most expensive player in history, behind Cristiano Ronaldo, who moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009 for 94 million euros, Zinedine Zidane and Kaka.
The previous highest French transfer was set earlier this year, when Colombia forward Radamel Falcao signed for Monaco from Atletico Madrid for a figure estimated at nearly 60 million euros.
“I’d like to thank everyone who made this transfer possible, it’s a great project,” a delighted Cavani, nicknamed ‘the Matador’, told a press conference.
“I’d also like to thank the people in Napoli who went out of their way to make it possible,” added the player who arrived in Europe in 2007 on a near five million euro move to play for Palermo.
“I come here with lots of joy, lots of confidence, lots of hunger and lots of motivation to win major trophies,” he said.
“My message to everyone in this city and to the (PSG) fans is that I’m here with an enormous appetite to reach these aims.”
Elaborating on why he chose PSG Cavani commented: “It’s a very rich and very ambitious project, and I’m like that too. It’s going to help me grow as a player.
“This club is one of the top sides in the world, it’s one of a group of sides that can win the Champions League.”
Sitting alongside him was PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi who said: “Everyone wanted him, but today he signed for us.
“He was the highest scorer in Italy, I hope he’s going to do even better for us this season.”
Al-Khelaifi went on to single out the club’s outgoing sporting director Leonardo for his instrumental role in securing the services of the Serie A sharpshooter.
“A big thank you to ‘Leo’, he’s done a great job here for the past two years,” Al Khelaifi told the press conference to announce the headline deal.
This was the Brazilian’s final act in his post before resigning from PSG as a result of the season-long ban he received this month for pushing a referee after PSG’s league game against Valenciennes on May 5.
Leonardo, 43, was pivotal not only in Cavani’s arrival at the Parc des Princes but also the capture from Napoli’s Serie A rivals AC Milan of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva.
PSG’s previous club record signing was Lucas Moura, the attacking midfielder who joined in January from Sao Paulo in a deal worth a reported 45 million euros.
With former coach Carlo Ancelotti, Leonardo used his Italian contacts to also raid Italy for the likes of goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, defensive midfielder Marco Verratti, attacking midfielder Javier Pastore and forward Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Cavani’s signing comes after a turbulent close season for PSG with Leonardo’s costly brush with authority and the protracted search – Blanc was far from top of their wish list – for a new coach to replace Ancelotti after the Italian’s move to Real Madrid.
Yet despite all that Al-Khelaifi, whose consortium has splashed out 315 million euros on players since taking over the club in 2011, insisted PSG’s future was bright.
“The arrival of Cavani proves the continuity of our project to make PSG the best club in Europe,” he insisted.
Cavani will have the chance to start repaying his new owners’ faith in him when PSG kick off their title defence against Montpellier on August 9.
AFP’s list of the five most expensive players of all time:
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (POR):
94 million euros from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009
2. Zinedine Zidane (FRA):
75 million euros from Juventus to Real Madrid in 2001
3. Kaka (BRA):
67.2 million euros from AC Milan to Real Madrid in 2009
4. Edinson Cavani (URU):
64 million euros from Napoli to Paris Saint-Germain in 2013
5. Luis Figo (POR):
61.7 million euros from Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000