Why Edinson Cavani's new contract is good news both on and off the field
Background Image Via: Flickr/Daniel. CC BY 2.0.
Not too long ago, Edinson Cavani remaining at Old Trafford for another year was nothing but a pipedream. El Matador's mind was made up. He was heading home to be closer to his family. Aged 34, it was a perfectly reasonable decision - even if Manchester United supporters were disappointed.
After being begged daily by his teammates inside the dressing room, coupled with a catchy chant made by the fans to the tune of ABBA's 'Give me a man after midnight', Cavani had a change of heart. The ex-Paris Saint-Germain agreed to spend another twelve months at the Theatre of Dreams, giving Manchester United fans a real reason to be cheerful in amongst all the doom and gloom off the pitch at this present time.
On the turf, it goes without saying, Cavani is brilliant. That said, I'll be the first to admit I imagined this short-term spell would go more like Radamel Falcao's time in Manchester. Instead, it turned out closer to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's and I've never been happier to be proven wrong.
Goals, assists, leadership and a real target man up front. It may have taken Cavani some time to settle in, which was expected given he had little-to-no pre-season. Right now, he's making up for lost time. Brilliant movement and an excellent rapport with Bruno Fernandes is an instant recipe for success. Delicious whipped balls into the box, always finished with aplomb by El Matador, often with his head. Manchester United's number seven curse is finally broken.
Eighteen starts, fifteen goals, four assists. What's not to like about that? United have found their number one striker. With an extra year under his belt in this United setup, coupled with some semblance of a pre-season, you'd expect Cavani to only improve.
It really would have been criminal if the Uruguayan left without witnessing the Stretford End chanting his name week-in-week-out. All being well, I'm delighted to report he's going to get that chance in 2021/22.
Off the field, Cavani's assets should be utilised. Forwards don't come much better than United's new hero, playing in a position where minuscule changes make all the difference. One slick movement here, one drop of the shoulder there can create that extra yard of space. On the training ground and in meetings, the likes of Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford should be paying close attention. There's plenty to learn from a man with almost 370 career goals under his belt.
Perhaps most importantly, this new deal gives United's Baby Faced Assassin one less problem to worry about heading into a massive summer transfer window. It curbs the need to spend big on a striker for at least another season. Although that means putting a move for Harry Kane or Erling Haaland on ice, familiarity and stability is what United need right now. Cavani gives them that.
Attentions can now be firmly fixated on adding a top-class centre-back to partner Harry Maguire, or even an elite right-winger like Jadon Sancho. Imagine Sancho whipping balls into the box for Edi? Phwoar.
In the end, it all comes back to Solskjaer. The Norwegian, who was widely ridiculed, is once again proving his doubters wrong. He identified Cavani when the majority doubted the move. Solskjaer then had the ability to ensure that El Matador, an elite level player, would stick around. The gaffer deserves endless credit for that.
Now, for Cavani, it's about looking forward to hearing 75,000 Red Devils chanting his name in front of a jam-packed stadium. That alone makes me excited for some normality to return in the not too distant future.