When Manchester United signed Edinson Cavani, in what appeared to be a desperate move after failing to bring Jadon Sancho to the club, plenty of eyebrows were raised.
While the great Urugyuan striker has proven to be one of Europe’s elite marksmen over the course of a glittering career in both Italy and France, the shadow of Radamel Falcao loomed large over Old Trafford.
Indeed, what was so surprising was the fact it doesn’t exactly take a genius to see that what Cavani offers is wholly different from Sancho. Having made a major play to get the England international out of Borussia Dortmund pretty much all summer, a late decision to sign a man who had been a free agent for months – with United’s history in mind – did look strange.
Edinson Cavani, of course, has proven such doubters wrong. Perhaps his impact hasn’t been quite as glamorous as that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s but nine goals in thirty games, including crucial strikes against Everton and Southampton, has given Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s floating frontline a functional focal point. So, the idea of playing without him next season must be a real worry.
At his age, Cavani was never likely to be a long-term option but the former Paris Saint-Germain striker has shown little sign of slowing down. To lose out on that sort of expertise and nous in front of goal next term is gutting.
Exacerbated the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic too, United could be splashing out on a striker (few of which have the track-record of Edinson Cavani) at the worst possible time.
Harry Kane’s situation at Tottenham Hotspur may be worth testing but the England captain has four years left on his contract and it would surely take close to a world-record transfer in order to convince Daniel Levy to sell. Erling Haaland, meanwhile, is reportedly valued at a huge £156m with every top club on the continent said to be chasing him.
Frankly, it’s almost impossible to see how United get a striker as good as Edinson Cavani without breaking the bank during one of the most difficult financial periods in living memory.
That, really, is indicative of the class Cavani has offered, as well as the struggles of their other strikers. Outside of Marcus Rashford, no United forward can match Bruno Fernandes for goals and assists or even looking as if they are capable of turning a game in their favour.
Anthony Martial has flattered to deceive and as talented as Mason Greenwood is, the 19-year-old is clearly still developing. Take Edinson Cavani out of the mix and the options look bleak just as United appeared to be embarking on an upward trajectory.
Though they do remain one of the richest clubs in the world and one of few capable of spending millions despite playing behind closed doors for over a year, there’s no doubt that this will be a difficult market, assuming that there is a market following the onset of the European Super League.
Even aside from the table top where Kane and Haaland would sit, any deal to bring a striker of sufficient quality to score the goals to keep United chasing Manchester City will be difficult to do.
When Edinson Cavani joined Manchester United, it looked like a desperate move likely to set the club back a lot of money. With him seemingly set for a quick-fire departure, that could well turn out to be true. Just not in the way anyone expected.
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