LONDON — Edinson Cavani is 34 years previous, out of contract on the finish of the season and, in accordance with Manchester United supervisor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, “nonetheless desires time to make his thoughts up” about whether or not to remain on the membership. However in inspiring a 3-1 win at Tottenham on Sunday, the Uruguayan striker confirmed why he can’t be allowed to depart.
Except United are capable of shock everybody by signing Erling Haaland, Harry Kane or a participant of comparable world-class high quality this summer season, they need to purchase themselves time by persuading Cavani to remain. As a result of on a day he shared the identical pitch at Spurs striker Kane, Cavani stood head and shoulders above the England captain by way of producing a centre-forward masterclass.
He scored one, made one other and had an excellent first-half aim dominated out following the most recent VAR controversy to afflict the Premier League, an incident that led to a postgame verbal conflict between Solskjaer and his reverse quantity Jose Mourinho.
However whereas clearly enraged by the choice of referee Chris Kavanagh to disallow his Thirty fourth-minute aim following a debatable foul by Scott McTominay on Spurs ahead Son Heung-Min — ‘We weren’t conned, the referee was,’ Solskjaer stated — Cavani’s expertise enabled him to make use of the sense of injustice as motivation moderately than a distraction.
His motion and work charge, his readiness to drag defenders out of place to create area for others and, above all, his predatory instincts within the penalty space, had been key components of a match-winning show as he drove his crew to arguably their finest 45-minute efficiency underneath Solskjaer’s administration.
Cavani made the primary for Fred, which cancelled out Son’s Fortieth-minute opener, by forcing Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris to push a goal-bound effort into the midfielder’s path, whereas the aim his efficiency deserved got here on 79 minutes when Cavani scored with a shocking diving header from Mason Greenwood’s cross.
And earlier than Greenwood struck United’s third in stoppage time to seal victory, Cavani saved the lead intact with a clearing header that denied Moussa Sissoko an equaliser and bounced off his personal crew’s submit. Cavani’s response on the ultimate whistle, when he punched the air and clenched each fists, was that of a person who felt he had proved some extent, however can United maintain him?
His Outdated Trafford future is a posh scenario. The free switch from Paris Saint-Germain has, at instances, struggled for health since arriving final October and he stays angered by the three-match suspension and £100,000 superb imposed the English Soccer Affiliation in December for what was judged to be a racist Instagram submit.
There have been some essential contributions to the United trigger earlier than Sunday — Cavani was equally inspirational in a November win at Southampton — however difficulties adjusting to life in England because of strict COVID-19 restrictions have added to concerns that he may return to South America for the ultimate years of his profession.
“For a brand new lad who would not communicate English and never having his household over right here, in fact it (leaving) is at the back of his head,” Solskjaer stated after the sport. “If he decides it is simply the season, then we would be very comfortable to have had him right here.
“We have had upfront and trustworthy conferences, there is no secret we wish to maintain him. He is aware of what we wish. I need him at Outdated Trafford whereas it is full on the Stretford Finish scoring a diving header like as we speak there is no higher feeling, so let’s wait and see.
Solskjaer added that Cavani’s efficiency was not like any United have had for a while from a prototypical No. 9 and, in doing so, acknowledged what he can’t do with out: A striker of true high quality. Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial add attacking aptitude and objectives to the crew, however none might be described as an out-an-out chief of the ahead line, resembling Cavani, Kane or Haaland.
In the meantime, whoever is up entrance for United subsequent season will hope that Paul Pogba remains to be on the membership to construct on his creating partnership with Bruno Fernandes. Since getting back from a six-week damage layoff final month, Pogba has been an influential attacking drive, working in tandem with Fernandes, and the pair generally is a harmful double act, if they continue to be collectively.
With Pogba getting into the ultimate 12 months of his contract after this season, his future is unsure, however this win not less than moved United a step nearer to confirming Champions League qualification — they’re 9 factors away from fifth-place Chelsea — and that may make it simpler to retain the French World Cup winner.
For Spurs, the defeat means they’re six factors off the tempo within the top-four race and struggling to make it again into Europe’s premier competitors: “You look to the desk and also you see the space to the highest 4. You realize it is troublesome, but it surely’s mathematically potential,” admitted Mourinho.
To succeed in the Champions League, Tottenham can’t afford to drop any extra factors after taking the lead. Even when they do clear up an issue that value them numerous instances this season, it would already be too late. Questions will inevitably observe about what meaning for Kane’s future, which serves as an additional reminder that an completed No. 9 is invaluable.