As most of you may know, Edinson Cavani agreed a deal to join Manchester United on a massive two-year deal in the penultimate day of the Transfer Window. The higher powers at Manchester United are, rightfully, under pressure to get late deals in this window by the fans, the manager and the players with just hours left in the window. Cavani becomes the second player to join after Donny Van De Beek signed over a month ago. A deal for Alex Telles has finally been agreed and as a lot of the goals conceded were from the United left hand side against Spurs, surely he is a shoe-in against Newcastle. Links to Jadon Sancho continue but it is doubtful whether a conclusion to this deal is on the cards.
The Cavani transfer seems to be a last resort purchase but could become an excellent piece of business. Only time will tell whether he will shine or sink. Here is my take:
I think it’s undeniable Manchester United are looking for another goalscorer. Both the Uruguayan and Real Madrid’s Luka Jovic were offered to Manchester United in the last few days. The latter reportedly was never a serious interest for United. Cavani of course is a free transfer after leaving PSG at the end of this season.
The 33-year old has an exceptional goalscoring record. He has bagged 200 goals for PSG in 301 appearances for the club after an even more score-happy three years at Napoli, scoring 104 goals in 138 games. Internationally, his scoring has not dropped as he netted 50 goals for Uruguay in 116 appearances. He clearly peaked from 2016-18 in which he scored 89 goals in just 98 games for PSG and 18 goals in 31 games for Uruguay. Last season he only managed 22 appearances for PSG but still managed 7 goals. What’s more, he only played around 12 full games worth of minutes.
Regardless of this, Cavani is a goal machine who has dominated Ligue Un and Serie A. He would clearly be a backup to Anthony Martial, I don’t doubt that. However what he can do is rotate in if (or when) Anthony is sidelined with an injury or struggling for form. He will offer Manchester United something different to United’s attack and from a quality player. Far more than the struggling Ighalo has post-lockdown. He is no stranger to the Champions League either and would love to score against his former club.
Cavani is a serial winner. Regardless of the leagues he has won trophies. He has 21 trophies for his clubs (1 with Danubi, 1 with Napoli and 19 with PSG) and won the Copa America with Uruguay in 2011 as well. Individually, it is even more impressive numbers but I am not focusing on these. He knows how to win and has been a part of a PSG side who have dominated Ligue Un and the various French Cups and while you can say that it is an easier league than the Premier League it still takes quality and a certain mentality to win trophies.
Solskjaer has said himself you need to bring in young players but balanced with experience to guide the younger members of the squad to win silverware and fight for every result. United lack true leaders in their side over the last few years, failing to replace the likes of Vidic, Ferdinand, Evra, Carrick, Fletcher and Rooney who all left big holes in the leadership side of the club. To a certain extent, Ibrahimovic and Ashley Young count towards that. Currently, you would say that United have some leaders but need more and Cavani is a perfect match for that.
History repeating itself?
There are clearly two ways to look at Edinson Cavani. The way of Radamel Falcao and Alexis Sanchez, or Robin Van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as stated below, it will be one or the other:
Cavani will either turn out to be another Falcao or another Ibrahimovic, there’s no in between.— Trey (@UTDTrey) October 3, 2020
Radamel Falcao and Alexis Sanchez both joined Manchester United for no straight fee with the Colombian joining on a £4m-loan deal for the season and Sanchez joining as per a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining Arsenal. Both had been struggling with injuries before joining and never hit the ground running. Let’s not forget they were both on huge wages too.
Falcao managed just four goals and five assists in his one season at Old Trafford. To put that to perspective, Chris Smalling tallied the same number of goals that year. Similarly, Alexis Sanchez recorded just three goals in his first season at Manchester United and registered 5 goals and 9 assists in a total of 45 games for Manchester United. This is not to say they never demonstrated their quality. However their short careers at Old Trafford were undeniably failures.
Cavani had one of his worst ever seasons in 2019/20 as he failed to score double figures for the first time since 2007/08. This was mainly due to his injury issues. Perhaps a lot was also the result of the dominance of Mbappe, Neymar and Di Maria in the starting XI. Not to mention the loan deal of Icardi from Inter. It was still a poor season from the Uruguayan so perhaps United are buying at the wrong time.
While this may be true, there is another side to look at and it’s not that far back in our history. You could look further back to the likes of Henrik Larsson or even Diego Forlan. But there are more recent comparisons:
Robin Van Persie
Robin Van Persie wasn’t at United for a long time but it certainly was a good time. The Flying Dutchman scored 58 goals in his three seasons at the club, winning the title for Manchester United in 2012/13 and the Golden Boot with his 26 league goals. No Manchester United player has reached that league tally in a single campaign since. While he did decline and get injuries with age, he still proved crucial in every season winning big games and crucial points for United.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the same. Came for a free from PSG and linked up with Jose again at Old Trafford. There remained a lot of criticism at Ibra during his time. When United stuttered, he was one that was criticised a lot. This was easily surpassed by 27 goals in his debut season and huge contributions to each of United’s silverware that season. His mentality pushed others to develop and drove the team to three trophies that season. A horrible injury kept him out of the team in April and for the rest of the season. Ultimately, he left in January 2018 after not quite picking up where he left off. Nevertheless, he became a big success short term and pushed United to silverware and for not a lot of money.
It seems clear Cavani could be either a massive success or a huge flop. It remains to be seen which one will happen but Trey is right in that there will be no middle ground.
I’ll admit my first reaction to Cavani’s transfer is a negative one. I am furious United spent £9m on agent fees + his wages when they refuse to spend £10m more on Sancho and £5m more for Telles. Both of which easily walk into the starting XI.
However, Cavani is a quality player and offers a lot to United both on and off the pitch and would provide world-class cover for Anthony Martial. I think on its own, this is a panic-buy. However if Manchester United can get another right winger, ideally Jadon Sancho and hopefully another centre-back in before 11pm on Monday, they could be excellent additions to the squad.
Hopefully he can replicate Robin Van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic and win United trophies and leave a hero after two years and not fall further like Falcao and Sanchez. We will have to see what he can offer United but we also must wait and hope United can sort out an equally embarrassing summer and start to the season in the eleventh hour.