November 30, 2021

Shrewd Business or Panic Buy?

Contents

Manchester United will complete the signing of former Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani today.

Pros

With the half-season cult hero Odion Ighalo’s loan to Manchester United expiring in January, and no rumours as of yet of a permanent signing, the Red Devils do need more striker depth. That is undebatable.

Whilst Mason Greenwood appears to be maturing into a lethal finisher who will most likely play a majority of his career at No. 9, our current lack of depth in the right-wing spot means he is the starting right-winger as of now, and unfortunately, he can’t play two positions at once.

The signing of PSG’s top scorer of all time certainly improves upon the quality the ‘Nigerian R9’ offers in front of goal, being one of the world’s best strikers for nigh on a decade now.

He also allows for much more flexibility in the forward line both rotationally and tactically, being the type of striker who could handle the almost knuckle-ball whipped crosses we have seen Marcus Rashford deliver in the past.

It means (if it makes tactical sense, which is up to Solskjær to decide) you could see a front three of Marcus Rashford on the right, Edinson Cavani up top and Anthony Martial on the left, allowing for our high-flying Frenchman to still be in the starting line-up. 

Despite being on the older side, Cavani has also played on the wing when necessary for the Parisians, so if worst comes to worst he can cover there too, however, he is undoubtedly most effective at the striker position.

It is evident that the signing of the Uruguayan international will have some form of positive impact on the squad, yet there is a large portion of the fanbase still questioning this move. Why?

Cons

The concern of many a United fan is that we have seen previously the fallout of poor decision making in the transfer market. That’s with the signing of another player at the end of his peak, coming in on a free and on massive wages in Alexis Sanchez. Could Cavani have the same impact on the current squad?

If rumours are to be believed, the Uruguayan striker is reportedly going to sign a deal seeing him take home £200,000 a week (alongside a roughly €10million agent fee). Whilst still being a fair bit short of Sanchez’s previous wage, it’s still a hefty amount of money to be throwing at a 33-year-old.

This new acquisition goes against the supposed rebuild and restructuring of the club’s age profile and wage bill, prompted by the failure of similar signings i.e. Alexis Sanchez. It throws further doubt on the already tenuous relationship between Ed Woodward and the Old Trafford faithful, as this feels like a typical Woodward panic-buy.

Alongside being another weighty cog in the ever-complex, near dysfunctional machine that United’s wage structure is, Cavani also has suffered from injury-proneness in the last few seasons. He suffered five injuries in the 19/20 season, according to Transfermarkt, with some being one to two-week knocks, however, he also suffered a near two-month-long hip injury.

Whilst some will argue that the Uruguayan will only be a backup, therefore it is not necessary for him to be fit 100% of the time, it is the opposite that is often true. Backup players require solid fitness and injury records, otherwise, they cannot be relied on to come in on short notice if the first-choice player is needing a rest or has just picked up an injury.

Cavani’s recent injury history isn’t of concern yet, however, as he ages, there are signs that he may accrue more and more injuries each season, questioning whether he could properly fulfil his role at Manchester United.

Finally, the main con related to this transfer, isn’t even necessarily the fault of, or the fans dislike of the player himself, it is the timing of this transfer and what it represents. 

With constant stalling negotiations over Jadon Sancho the whole summer, a refusal to pursue a centre-back or defensive midfielder, it feels like the club’s priorities are all wrong.

The Red Devils undoubtedly need a striker, and Cavani is certainly a good one at that. However, with United seemingly struggling in the transfer market, constantly undercutting asking prices for players and being rejected, it leaves a sour taste when Woodward is happy to spend £200k a week on Cavani.

That’s despite there surely being cheaper options who will do a perfectly solid job as a backup, which would allow us to get other signings in beforehand and properly embed them into the squad, rather than coming in on deadline day.

Whilst a striker is necessary upon Odion Ighalo’s exit, that isn’t until January, Cavani had been offered to clubs all across Europe this window and none had bit due to the agent fee, could this transfer have not waited until the winter window, in order to get more difficult or challenging transfers in first?

Overall, whilst it may benefit the team in the short term, and does fill a hole in the squad that needs filling, without the pre-requisite of other signings which were as close as you can get to tap-ins, the transfer of Edinson Cavani to Manchester United does feel rather concerning for the clubs transfer ventures in the near future.

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