Wolves face the perfect opportunity for Edinson Cavani to show he’s more than a replacement at Man Utd
Manchester United face a tough end to 2020 with a home game against Wolves on Tuesday night, before hosting Aston Villa three days later on New Year’s Day.
While last season’s in-depth quality was a clear issue for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, their activities throughout the summer ensured that this was no longer the case regardless of the last one. breath that it might have felt.
Edinson Cavani’s signing deadline was intriguing. On the one hand, United had grabbed one of Europe’s most consistent goals over the past decade for nothing, solving a problem that had prevailed since Romelu Lukaku was sold to Inter in 2019.
The flip side, however, was the obvious delay in Cavani’s arrival. Turning to a 33-year-old free agent – who had been available throughout 2020 – on deadline day made it clear that the Red Devils had failed in pursuit of other goals.
The truth is, however, United were desperate for Cavani. No matter how good Anthony Martial is in wearing the number nine shirt and wearing black gloves in peak winter conditions, that doesn’t hide the fact that his inconsistent performance doesn’t cut the mustard. Cavani gives the Red Devils a different dimension and way of playing and brings a sense of winning mentality to the team that left with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2018.
Cavani has only managed one Premier League start since arriving, however, and now is the perfect time to change that and bring him into the squad as a more consistent game in the starting XI, starting against the Wolves.
The obvious question mark around the Uruguayan international veteran is his age. Cavani turns 34 before the end of the season and clearly isn’t the long-term answer for United, who feel like more paper on the cracks.
Age is just a number though – ask Goldberg, who manages to win WWE titles at 54. Not only has Cavani proven this in his rotating appearances so far, but former Paris Saint-Germain teammate Thiago Silva has also flown the flag for more than 30 years at Chelsea. The defender quickly proved a key cog in the machine in London, starting in 11 Premier League games against the 16 Chelsea have played.
Cavani’s fitness is clearly not an issue. His bullish presence is a constant throughout his performance and it’s time for Solskjaer to use him to his advantage. Starting Cavani regularly gives United a poacher to aim for, varying their game as they can play short and long and allowing them to cross the ball with more freedom in the hope that he can pounce on a loose ball. He has already shown his finesse with four goals and two assists and will only improve with a consistent run in the side.
It also allows United to make better use of Martial and Marcus Rashford. It is clear that neither pair is made to be the center-forward on one side, but instead are used more effectively in a broad role where they can play both creator and finisher and allow to the Red Devils to counterattack. Starting them on either wing with the Uruguayan in the middle looks like a cheat code United have yet to explore, and it’s up to Solskjaer to use it.
Cavani’s role so far has been impressive enough that United warrants discussions on extending his one-year contract. While it may seem counterproductive to tie another senior player to a contract, the 33-year-old certainly has a role to play at United in the coming seasons if he stays.
For now, it’s all about biting the ball and deploying Cavani as often as possible while he still proves to be effective on the pitch. Beyond this season, however, tying Cavani and then loosening him into a lesser role as United chase a younger center-forward to take the reins, or spin him with Mason Greenwood, would make more sense.
It’s important that United find the balance and use it effectively while they have it. Keeping Cavani around provides invaluable knowledge on the training ground for young forwards like Greenwood, but keeping him on the squad past his sell-by date will only underline United’s inability to recruit and to replace aging talent.
The Red Devils have serious talent in their Uruguayan number seven. Yes, his age will catch up with him eventually, but that’s exactly why United need to pull the trigger now and place him in the starting XI as often as possible throughout the 2020/21 season to maximize his effectiveness, before finally. . phase him out as his powers diminish.