By Michael Burney
A long drawn out transfer window for Manchester United is nearing conclusion. The Monday 5th October deadline for international transfers has so far seen Donny Van De Beek join the club from Ajax, but the clubs number one target, Jadon Sancho, appears to be staying in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund. It is fair to say that it has been a frustrating summer so far for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and supporters alike.
With the clock ticking, it appears that the club have turned their attentions to former Napoli, and most recently PSG forward Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan international is rumoured to be close to signing a 2 year deal at Old Trafford to add strength in depth to the forward positions. This is an area that Solskjaer has earmarked for improvement, and despite seemingly missing out on Sancho, for now at least, the club look to have added more quality in attack.
The move has been derided by some on social media, and it is easy to see why. At 33 years of age, Cavani may well be past his best. There have been expensive mistakes in Falcao and Alexis Sanchez in recent years which haven’t worked, and parallels can clearly be drawn. It is important, however, to consider the full picture when analysing and scrutinising this deal.
Firstly, it is clear that Cavani wasn’t at the top of Solskjaerand Uniteds summer shopping list. He is a free agent, having been released by PSG at the end of last season. If Cavani was a priority then the deal may well have been completed before now. The fact that the club put all of their eggs into the Jadon Sancho basket and concentrated solely on this deal though has meant that they neglected pursuing other targets. This is a policy the club has taken in the past 18 months, deciding to concentrate on one deal at a time, just like with Aaron Wan Bissaka, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes.
Now that the Sancho chase appears to be over, the club have moved on to those other targets, with Cavani being one of these. He is available on a free transfer which appeals to the club. With no transfer fee most Bosman deals involve sky high wages. In this case, though, it has been reported that Cavani will earn around £150,000 per week. This is a good piece of business from United if true. There may well be a high fee involved in terms of a signing on fee for the player plus agents fees, but all in all it may represent a decent deal financially.
Most importantly, Cavani has been one of the best forwards around for some time. His record in Serie A reads at 112 goals in 213 appearances, whilst at PSG he has scored 138 goals in 200 Ligue 1 games. In European competition Cavani has netted 35 goals in 62 games in the Champions League, plus 12 goals in 15 Europa League matches. For his national team Uruguay, Cavani has 50 goals in 116 caps. These are very impressive statistics.
So whilst it can be argued his best days are behind him, United are getting a proven goalscorer at the highest level. At PSG, it would be fair to say that he was never quite as appreciated as he should have been. Both Zlatan Ibrahimovicand Neymar have been indulged and it meant that at times Cavani was shoved out into the wide positions. He has never really had the same amount of respect as Zlatan had or that Neymar and now Kylian Mbappe get despite his impressive goal record.
There have never really been any reports that Cavani has a bad attitude either. This cannot necessarily be said of Zlatan and Neymar, or even Mbappe who had a couple of strops last season. The Uruguayan has mainly just gotten on with his job, which is scoring goals and helping his club to silverware. Due to this, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may well feel that Cavani has the attitude he is looking for to fit into his side.
The Manchester United manager is looking to build a young, hungry side. However, when taking the job he knew he needed more leaders. In signing Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes he addressed this and Edinson Cavani could well fit the same mould. In providing competition and back up for Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwoodthere will be more strength in depth, and that young forward line will surely learn plenty from Edinson Cavani.
Lets not forget that the last ageing free agent Manchester United signed from PSG didn’t work out too badly. A winning goal in the League Cup final and a Europa League medal for Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Old Trafford proves this. Despite the noise on social media, the deal for Cavani could well be a very shrewd piece of business by Manchester United. Like anything however, time will tell.