Soccer: Napoli face post-Cavani future

Martinez targeted, first bid for Damiao turned down

Soccer: Napoli face post-Cavani future

(By Denis Greenan). Naples, July 10 - Napoli are facing the prospect of fighting for Champions League football without the most potent weapon in their armoury, Uruguay star Edinson Cavani, who is set for a hugely lucrative moved to Paris Saint-Germain. The 64.5-million-euro deal, second biggest in the club's history only to that which brought soccer legend Diego Maradona to Naples in the 1980s, was set to be inked Wednesday. "We'll be sorry to see him go but we think we can find the resources to plug the gap," said new coach Rafa Benitez, former Liverpool and Chelsea boss. Cavani, who recently shone at the Confederations Cup, will be a hard act to follow when he joins former Napoli clubmate Ezequiel Lavezzi at Laurent Blanc's renewed set-up at PSG. The lean, mean Uruguay centre-forward notched a remarkable tally of 78 goals in 104 games for the southern Italian club since joining them from Palermo in 2010. Benitez said Napoli, who qualified for the top flight of European soccer in 2012 but narrowly missed out last season, would be targeting Porto's Colombian forward Jackson Martinez as well as Internacional's Brazilian Leandro Damiao. An initial offer for the Brazilian was knocked back Wednesday but Benitez said "we'll keep trying". They already have a serviceable back-up forward on their books, having signed former Espanyol and Real Madrid attacking midfielder Jose Maria Callejon for the relatively cheap price of nine million euros. Italy great Fabio Cannavaro visited Napoli's training ground Wednesday for the first pre-season gathering at his home-town club where his younger brother Paolo is still captain and defensive stalwart. Asked who might be able to fill Cavani's shooting boots, World Cup 2006 hero Cannavaro said "the obvious choice is (Manchester City forward Edin) Dzeko, although it might be hard to wrestle him out of City's grasp". The arrival of the towering Bosnia frontman might be made easier, however, if City manage to lure Fiorentina's Montenegrin star Stevan Jovetic away from the competing bids of Italian champions Juventus, Spanish champs Real Madrid, Premier League title holders Manchester United and Jose' Mourinho's retooling Chelsea. Jovetic's reported yen to find a different stamping ground for his precocious talents was increased by this week's signing of Germany centre-forward Mario Gomez from Bayern Munich. Another player leaving Florence is reportedly second striker Adem Ljalic. The Serb hitman was said to have reached a deal with Silvio Berlusconi's AC Milan, the ex-premier and media mogul's only buy after he said the existing AC line-up was "good enough already" to lift its 19th Serie A crown. In other transfer news, Juve were said to have agreed terms with Torino for midfielder Angelo Ogbonna while ex-Brazil veteran Robinho is reported to be heading home from Milan to his old club Santos.

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