Edinson Cavani transfer ends Man Utd "dream" for his new teammate

So there it is.

Two days before the end of a frustrating transfer window for Man Utd and they've finally sealed their second major signing.

It's not Jadon Sancho, nor Ousmane Dembele – at least not yet. But instead 33-year-old veteran Edinson Cavani.

The Uruguayan is set to sign a two-year deal, and his arrival has come somewhat out of the blue, despite United holding talks with the player earlier in the window.

And on a mammoth £200,000-per-week contract, all the signs are pointing to a move filled with desperation from a United perspective.

Their failure to land Sancho or build on their progress of last season has forced United to plump for a Plan B.

A panic buy? Perhaps. But whatever Cavani's role, his signing has already spelt the end of one player's United career.

While Cavani's transfer is a shock, it's certainly not as surprising as their move for Odion Ighalo on deadline day back in January.

Ighalo was seen as a last-minute stop gap to provide cover to United's strikers, seemingly as the couldn't get Cavani or any of their other preferred targets in.

The Nigerian – a lifelong United fan – jumped at the chance of moving to Old Trafford, admitting it was a "dream come true".

Sadly for Ighalo that dream is now coming to an end.

Despite providing a decent goal return in his first months at the club, the gloss of Ighalo's early form has worn off, and United's fans are now growing impatient.

The failure to sign Sancho has been the main driver, but arguably so too has Ighalo's most recent form.

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His latest showing in the Carabao Cup tie against Brighton was not his finest display, and while he extended his loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua back in July, that only runs until this coming January.

Cavani is essentially being brought in as Ighalo's replacement. And while his wages are extortionately high, they don't differ too much to that of his new teammate.

In that sense the move is understandable. An upgrade for United for minimal extra in terms of finances.

Questions will no doubt be asked as to why United are signing a player of Cavani's age on a two-year deal though, particularly as his last season hardly set the world alight.

He mustered just five goals in 20 appearances last season in France.

Moves to Atletico Madrid and Benfica failed to materialise this summer after PSG released him on a free, leaving United to snap him up at the eleventh hour.

It was almost guaranteed that United would be pressured into acting though.

They've spent the summer sure of what they were after without being prepared to go and get it.

A summer of failure characterised by their inability to sign their primary transfer target, whose club is willing to let him leave, and who wants to join Man Utd.

Yes a move for Sancho isn’t cheap, particularly in the midst of a economically uncertain global pandemic. But United offered a reported £91m last week – £17m less than his asking price.

Earlier in the window they spent £40m on Donny van de Beek. A great player by all accounts, who looks set for a bright future at the club. But a player United didn’t need for a position they are already fairly well stocked.

They could have prioritised signing Sancho, gambled on losing out on van de Beek and tried to sign him later in the window if the funds allowed. Or better still, a new centre-back.

Instead they’re bringing in a striker who, it's probably fair to say, have his best days behind him.

That's not to suggest Cavani can't have an impact at United. Far from it.

He's a superb upgrade on Ighalo, and possesses experience and talent in abundance if he can find his best form.

It wasn’t so long ago he was banging in goals for PSG and representing his country in World Cup finals.

While there will be concerns over his advancing years, many will point to the success of Zlatan Ibrahimovic on these shores after making the same move when a year older than Cavani.

Though for every Ibrahimovic there's a Bastian Schweinsteiger.

The issue now for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is where he is going to play him.

Because the Uruguayan sure isn’t coming to Old Trafford to sit on the bench. Or be rolled out for Europa League and Carabao Cup fixtures. Not for two years. Not on £200k-per-week.

So will he replace Martial? Who played some of his best football in years last season.

Will Martial be shunted out wide again to make room for Cavani?

Then there’s the question of how this will hamper the development of Mason Greenwood.

Ex-United forward Romelu Lukaku said it best as recently as Saturday morning.

“If you buy another striker, what are you going to do with Anthony Martial? He's now being the No.9 at a great club,” Lukaku told The Times .

“Give him the full season to confirm what he did last year instead of bringing in someone big to disrupt the chemistry in the dressing room.

“Then you have Mason's transition that is going to happen any time soon from right-wing to No 9, and Mason is a killer. I've seen him first hand. He's got something.”

There’s the old argument of whether a player like Cavani would offer experience to the younger forwards. The answer is most definitely.

But so does United’s manager.

Let’s face it, what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer doesn’t know about being a striker probably isn’t worth knowing.

And Cavani's arrival would not have lifted the dressing room any more than if Jadon Sancho had strolled through the door.

Will Cavani's transfer be a success? Have your say below.

 

Cavani's arrival will provide a small boost, in a similar vein to that of Ighalo's – though that was largely thanks to Bruno Fernandes joining around the same time.

But Ighalo's deal could easily have failed. The fact he now looks set to leave arguably suggests that it has.

Over two years, Cavani’s transfer possesses the same unnecessary risk but over a longer period. It’s potentially another expensive gamble.

United made great strides last season – time will tell if this is a backwards step.

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