Why Man United needed Cavani so desperately?

When Edinson Cavani talked about Football & Ballet dance being similar, in September, while promoting Ballet in his native Uruguay, he meant it. Currently in the Premier League, he is making defenders dance to a different tune & oh! how the fans would have gone ballistic at the Theatre of Dreams, had it not been the pandemic. I’m sure there is a Cavani song brewing up somewhere amongst the fans. The fans love a Hero & I believe we have got one in Cavani!

Signing Cavani – When United signed Cavani there were questions raised in the media, rightly so, as he was no more a player in his prime, but one who had crossed his heydays. But hay did he make over the last weekend when he single handedly helped United win at St. Mary’s.

Cavani is precisely what United had been looking for in a striker when they signed Lukaku. A young hungry goal poacher, who would score goals for fun. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for Lukaku, but it seems finally United have found the missing piece in the jigsaw.

Underrated? – While Cavani has been scoring goals for fun during his career, he has also been criminally underrated throughout his career. Going back to his time in Naples, he struck 33 goals over 2 seasons for the club & eventually ended up scoring 104 goals in 138 matches. While in Naples, he was never the star name. That mantle was shared with Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

The performance at Napoli triggered the move to PSG where again he was in the shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, fighting it out with the self-proclaimed lion in the jungle, over 7 years. During his stay at Paris, he scored 200 goals in 301 matches.

The same rule applies at international level. Luis Suarez has always been a household name, albeit sometimes for the wrong reasons. Cavani, in typical fashion, wasn’t going to be outshone. 45 goals in 105 outings for his beloved Uruguay is a sublime return.

Is he a traditional #9? – You need a hard-working forward? Cavani’s your man. He’ll run himself into the ground for the good of the team. It’s a trait he’s carried proudly with him for his career’s duration. In the modern-day game, it’s essential that strikers are now more than just goal-scorers.

While Cavani prefers playing through the middle, he’s even adept at playing anywhere across the 3 positions, his stats below highlight his love for the game:

PositionAppearancesGoalsAssists
Center Forward20015236
Left Winger54267
Right Winger32165
Source for stats: Transfer Markt

While everyone have been talking about his winning goal vs Southampton, his assists which came from the right wing would have made even David Beckham proud, such was the quality of the ball.

Cavani offers as a #9 what no one at United can, experience, leadership & instinct, not to mention his work-rate off the ball. Currently, all the forwards United have are pacey ones, who are able to work the channels, but with Cavani now in the mix, he can play with his back to the ball, use his physical prowess as well as technical ability to layoff passes & use his instinct too which every top striker needs.

While Cavani didn’t score vs Istanbul Basaksehir (IB), he portrayed all his abilities as a striker. When IB pressed United’s defense, he acted as a channel to accept the long passes from defenders as he’d drop in the #10 position & use himself as a shield to retain possession. Cavani broke IB’s press with his smart movement & one-touch football offering a route to attack. He was instrumental in Dan James scoring in the Champions League, when he received a progressive pass from Matic, he pulled the central defender with him, opening up space behind him. His one touch pass to Van De Beek (VDB) opened up space behind him, which VDB used to pass to Greenwood who then turned it to James, who scored. Moreover, he completed 23 out of his 24 passes, a completion rate of 96%, the best of any player to start the match (source: Statman Dave).

Against Southampton, he was phenomenal, his efforts paid dividends, as he scored twice & assisted for Bruno’s goal. His position while assisting Bruno was top drawer. He was blocking the passing lane to both center back while Fred put in the tackle to win the ball, who then passed into Wan Bissaka, eventually passing to Cavani, who assisted Bruno.

Cavani’s header could have got him a goal much earlier, if he had scored from a Wan Bissaka cross a little earlier before he equalized. However, top players do not keep on mulling over missed chances & Cavani didn’t either. The equalizer Cavani scored highlights his movement. When Bruno hit the ball through the crowd of Saints defenders, it was only Cavani who wasn’t stagnant & anticipated the ball, eventually scoring a leaping header to get United in the game.

The winner scored by Cavani was well planned too, while many credit his off the ball movement in the box. Cavani asks the ball to be played wide to Rashford, expecting the Saints defenders to immediately press Rashford, which would open up space behind them for him to head the ball in the net.

Conclusion – With Man United looking to challenge for trophies, it is imperative that the club have diversified set of skills to counter all kind of opposition. Last season United could attack only one way, but now with Cavani, Van De Beek & Telles providing varied options in attack, Man United are turning the heat up on their rivals.

I wouldn’t be the one to say that United will win the title yet, but we aren’t far away from it. Ole has been adding quality to the squad & with Cavani playing like he is, it seems that Christmas has come in early!

What are your thoughts on Cavani & will he add a different dimension to United’s attack? Comment below…

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