Will Cavani be a golden oldie like Zlatan or flop like Falcao?

Only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored more than Edinson Cavani in the past 13 years but Manchester United’s new signing flies in the face of progression… so will the Uruguayan veteran be a golden oldie like Zlatan or a flop like Falcao?

  • Manchester United confirmed the signing of Edinson Cavani on Monday
  • The Red Devils are hoping he can have a similar impact to Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • The Swedish ace had a transformative impact during his first season at the club 
  • But Radamel Falcao had a less successful spell with just four goals in 40 games

Two names immediately spring to mind with Manchester United’s capture of Edinson Cavani. One is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the other being Radamel Falcao.

One had a transformative impact during Jose Mourinho’s first season. The other floundered, scoring only four goals in 30 games. There is certainly a sense of intrigue as to how close Cavani’s time at Old Trafford veers towards either of them.

United hope, of course, he is more aligned to Ibrahimovic’s first year at the club. An elder statesman, whose character dragged the team through games, pulled the youngsters with him. A focal point, a get-out ball, a lethal finisher.

Manchester United are hoping Edinson Cavani can have a similar impact to Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The Swedish striker had a transformative effect during his first season under Jose Mourinho

Radamel Falcao could only manage four goals in 30 games before his Old Trafford departure

They may just get that, given Cavani’s record over the past decade.

The Uruguayan has struck more than 30 goals in six of his last ten seasons, at Napoli and then Paris Saint-Germain. From Europe’s big five leagues, only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have found the net more times than Cavani’s haul of 250 since 2007, dating back to his formative years at Palermo.

But the 33-year-old arrived in the north west on Sunday as someone who fell away at PSG last term, spending much of it injured or on the bench and informed in June that his contract would not be renewed. 

Fearing injury could potentially curtail his next move, Cavani did not sign a short-term deal and was absent for the Champions League’s crescendo in Lisbon. His last match came almost seven months ago, on March 11 when PSG beat Dortmund 2-0.  

The forward was told he did not have a future at PSG after spending most of last season injured

But the Uruguayan has more than 30 goals in six of his last ten seasons in Italy and France

He travelled back to Uruguay over the summer, taking up ballet in his spare time, while representatives were sounding out clubs across Europe. 

Cavani was understood to have wanted to live and work in London, but nothing to that end ever materialised. So in came United and it was all wrapped up relatively quickly, a matter of urgency given the need to formalise their 25-man European squad.

United maintain the agent fee they have paid is significantly less than the reported £10million, although it would be foolish to think anything other that the finances involved, not least his wages, are sizeable.

This does not strictly fit their recruitment model either. The desire is to sign younger players on an upward trajectory and, while Cavani undoubtedly boasts star quality, it is the complete opposite.

‘There’s an element of thrill to it because he’s one of the world’s great strikers over the last ten years,’ Gary Neville said. ‘There is also an element of, “how have we ended up here?”

The 33-year-old travelled back to Uruguay in the summer and took up ballet in his spare time

‘Cavani will be welcome, he’s different to the other strikers. He’s always had a great work ethic. (But) it couldn’t have been in the plan because something like this couldn’t have been kept quiet.’

It can simultaneously represent both a shot in the arm to a forward line that needs help and seem like a head-scratcher, which frankly is in keeping with United in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.

United have wanted attacking reinforcements all summer and owning Cavani certainly eases the burden on the chosen central striker Anthony Martial, sent off for a petulant slap during the horrific 6-1 home defeat by Mourinho’s Tottenham on Sunday. 

He brings a winning mentality, an attitude that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope rubs off on what appears to be a rather fragile group.

So Solskjaer has been given another option, he now has a striker with a little more wisdom of experience.

That is no bad thing and nobody is deriding Cavani’s pedigree, a serial trophy hoarder at PSG and a talismanic figure for his country as they over-achieved in major tournaments.

Yet it is how United reached this point, more short-termism, that should be more concerning. 

If he really was the man, then perhaps he ought to have been sorted prior to the opening day of the season.

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