As the level of uncertainty across both the country and the Premier League increases due to the rising number of Covid 19 cases, the future of some of Manchester United forwards also seems uncertain going into the January transfer window. While Anthony Martial has made it publicly clear he is looking to leave through the medium of his agent, reports have now started linking Edinson Cavani with a move away from Old Trafford.
The veteran Uruguayan has been struggling to find fitness this season and has only played in eight of United’s games so far, a considerably lower number than most would have hoped for- including Cavani himself.
The lack of game time has not just been down to new arrival Cristiano Ronaldo though- as some suggested before the start of the season, Cavani has actually been unfit since October 31 with tendon irritation. The only goal the striker has scored this season came in United’s convincing 3-0 victory against Tottenham, a game in which Cavani played alongside Ronaldo in a front two.
This was a game that many speculated could begin a formidable strike partnership, granted when both were fit, however shortly after Cavani was ruled out and hasn’t been seen since. It’s fortunate that United are left with legendary goal scorer Ronaldo and a talented crop of younger attackers in Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford, but the unique predatory instinct of Cavani still feels like a big loss.
When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer convinced Cavani to stay on for another season one would have to assume it would have been on the pretence that the 34-year-old would get a better amount of game time, but it’s just not panned out that way.
In some ways Cavani has been demoted to a background extra, especially now that new manager Ralf Rangnick has entered the stage. Rangnick has yet to fully get to grips with the job, having been thrown in at the deep end with Covid issues and intense festive fixture scheduling, but it’s likely the German will desire fully fit players to deal with the intensity of the schedule.
While it seems likely that Cavani could actually thrive in Rangnick’s pressing system, it’s starting to feel improbable as rumours of a January exit pick up pace. The prospect of this exit almost feels negligible in regards to Cavani’s tiny contribution thus far this season, however this was the season in which Cavani was supposed to enjoy a packed Old Trafford and score more wonder goals like his halfway line chip against Fulham.
There could be questions directed at the Uruguayans motivation levels, especially since losing the number seven shirt and being somewhat overshadowed by Ronaldo, although on the pitch Cavani has never looked like lacking passion. It’s this very passion that has endeared ‘El Matador’ to nearly all United fans, overtly aware of his ability to produce a moment of unique magic.
The rumours linking Cavani with an exit mostly point to Barcelona as the destination. The struggling Spanish club are in dire form and seem to be a club in complete disarray. Barcelona sit outside the top four and various issues plague the team both on and off the pitch.
Losing Sergio Aguero due to his premature medically induced retirement is possibly the biggest reason the Catalan club are sniffing around Cavani, and they are likely able to get him on a free due to his contract expiring. Obviously for a club like Barcelona who are short on money this potential deal is a no brainer, while they may be encouraged further by Cavani’s purported longstanding desire to play for the club.
If Cavani does now end up leaving in January, it’s no secret that it will come as a massive disappointment to United fans. While most will wish him well the prospect of losing his potential goals and presence will sit sorely in the mind, and the question of what could have been for ‘El Matador’ at Manchester United this season will be forever unanswered.
Written by Sam Wilson