As insignificant as it may seem to re-sign a 34-year-old forward, Manchester United have dealt with some shocking matters, convincing a burgeoning talent to stay at Old Trafford with Edinson Cavani accepting another year in the red.
Since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, and equally importantly CEO and transfer czar David Gill, the luster at Old Trafford has faded significantly. Top-tier players no longer seem to view Manchester United as a top-tier destination, preferring to look across the city to Manchester City, across the country to Liverpool and Chelsea, or across the borders to destinations. new like PSG.
And whether due to lack of success or failure to fit in, the club has not been able to retain the talent that significantly improved the team. Players such as Romelu Lukaku, Ángel Di Maria, Ander Herrera and Wilfried Zaha have left Old Trafford to find success elsewhere in the prime of their careers.
It’s one of the reasons Cavani’s return is so significant. After scoring over 350 goals in his club career, Cavani has always expressed his desire to end his career in South America, where Boca Juniors was making a strong push to sign him. And after scoring 15 goals for United this season, including eight goals in his last seven to help United to the Europa League final, Cavani would have had many high-level European suitors eager to sign a man of his experience.
Not that Cavani’s time with Manchester was completely perfect. After seven months off after his ugly departure from Paris Saint-Germain, the forward’s start in Manchester was marked by injury and controversy. Cavani is reportedly still upset by the embarrassment of a three-match ban and £ 100,000 fine for an offensive Instagram post where he used a gnomic term of affection in South America that has been a source of consternation and trouble for some of Cavani’s compatriots in England.
So after years of the Red Devils’ well-documented twilight and a year marked by some consternation, why Manchester, again?
Perhaps it was the advice of a mentor from a player-friendly coach at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, a club legend who knows what it means to score goals at Old Trafford and who sees the coaching position at United as more than just a job. but a source. of personal pride.
Solskjaer has continually told the Uruguayan forward that there is nothing like hearing his name chanted at Old Trafford, something Cavani has yet to experience in the COVID-19 era.
And as a former striker whose career was cut short by knee injuries, Solskjaer has continued to advise Cavani to play at the highest level for as long as he can, before he takes it from him for good. With Manchester United qualifying for the Champions League next season, both opportunities remain.
Or maybe it was the challenge of being a trailblazer for an entire generation of South American forwards. Cavani only has to look across town to find a striker in Sergio Agüero who has challenged the preconceived notion that the English game was too physical, too punishing and simply too rainy for the South American forwards to have long-term success. With Agüero’s historic career at City coming to a close this summer, he will leave the club as the Premier League’s all-time foreign-born scorer.
Luis Suárez was a godsend in England, but he always had greater ambitions. Hernán Crespo was a momentary success at Chelsea as was Alexis Sánchez at Arsenal. Juan Pablo Ángel proved his worth at Aston Villa and Carlos Tevez swept the ground in Manchester. But no South American has done it at Cavani’s age; one has only to look at the dumpster fire that was the incredibly talented Radamel Falcao’s time in England to understand why England is not a late destination for most forwards, South Americans or not.
With Robin van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as recent outliers, United has proven to be the rare exception that creates success for an older statesman who can succeed at the highest level. An insurmountable salary package and the opportunity to mentor the young attacking talents in Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial are surely not lost on Cavani either.
For a man whose career has been defined by courage and pace of work, there is still much to accomplish before crossing the Atlantic at the end of his career. And maybe, just maybe, if United can reapply some of that gloss, there could be a title boost for United next season and a Europa League trophy this month, not to mention a chance to remain relevant. globally ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. .
As Cavani said when he joined United in October, “I look forward to continuing to write my little story in the football book and I know that is why my focus should remain the same as ever: work, work, work.”
For a prolific scorer like Cavani, this story may still have a lot to offer.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.