Man Utd risk losing Edinson Cavani at the end of the season – but it really isn’t the end of the world if they do
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took a risk when he turned to Edinson Cavani last summer.
Manchester United were in need of attacking reinforcement and Solskjaer, the former forward himself, knew he needed a different type of player if he was to transform his front line.
His dream target was Erling Haaland in the January window, it didn’t work out. Then came a failed move for Joshua King and interest in a move for Salomon Rondon before a deadline day move for Odion Igahlo.
The Nigerian did what was required with a Henrik Larsson-esque immediate impact, but after Project Restart his adrenaline had waned and it soon became very much apparent he was not quite up to the elite standard required.
Throughout the summer adding a new forward remained on the back of Solskjaer’s mind, although it wasn’t a priority, but with deadline day ticking closer a move for Cavani presented itself.
“We need more goalscorers, more goals, someone who wants to break their nose or toe to score,” Solskjaer had stated in January of 2020.
“It doesn’t always have to be nice goals. I need to challenge them more.”
Cavani certainly ticked that box, as he’s proven already in his short time at Old Trafford and many critics have been proven wrong by his acquisition.
Seven goals in all competitions this season is an admirable return for the 34-year-old, especially considering his inconsistent opportunities on the pitch.
Club officials were mocked when they compared his arrival to that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he might not quite be the Swede but he has most certainly added a similar sense of authority to an otherwise juvenile squad.
The Uruguayan forward has been a successful signing, that isn’t up for debate. However, continued uncertainty regarding his future is undermining a club which gave him an unexpected final lifeline in European football.
If those original comments from Cavani’s father were enough to enrage supporters by suggesting his son does “not feel comfortable” in Manchester, the latest reaction in South America has amplified frustration to an entirely new level.
Over the course of the last two days both the Uruguayan national team assistant coach, Mario Rebollo, and a ‘close family friend’, Alexander Medina, have both expressed belief Cavani would be better off in South America at the end of the season.
They’re entitled to their opinion, but to undermine United so publicly is an insult given it is Cavani who owes the club for taking such a gamble.
The irony is that had United not given Cavani a chance to prove himself in the first place then he wouldn’t have ever had such an issue with a perceived lack of game time.
In five months at the club Cavani has highlighted the long-term need for a No.9 specialist in attack, however those close to him perhaps need to remember that it is he who is indebted to United, not the other way around.
While the veteran has brought a huge wealth of experience and leadership to the dressing room he is by no means irreplaceable. It is time for both parties to have a reality check.
United hold an interest in potentially keeping Cavani for another year, however if the club continue to be undermined by figures close to the Uruguayan then they have every right to walk away now.
The player himself has done nothing wrong and deserves to be remembered as fondly as Ighalo and Larsson for his limited contribution to the club.
Their legacies were solidified by dignified exits from Old Trafford, no matter what he decides, Cavani must ensure he leaves on similar terms too.