When Edinson Cavani joined Manchester United in the summer of 2020, fans were understandably excited. The experienced Uruguayan brought him goals and a proven pedigree, having scored a total of 353 goals across three different leagues.
But the 35-year-old’s time at United has been plagued by injuries, resulting in the striker only managing 56 appearances in all competitions in his two seasons at the club. After suffering yet another injury, Cavani missed United’s match against Norwich on Saturday and has proven to be a big loss this season.
The experienced attacker has only played in 17 matches for the Reds this season, with his last appearance being a 10-minute cameo in United’s 3-2 win over Tottenham in March. Of those appearances, the Uruguayan has made just seven starts.
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And while his attacking output isn’t great, – two goals and one assist in all competitions- Cavani’s work rate and experience have proven valuable for the Reds on many occasions this season. This season, United have only been beaten once when he has started the match.
In addition, Cavani has proven he can have a significant impact as a substitute, scoring a second-half equalizer in the Reds’ 1-1 away draw at Newcastle and providing the decisive assist for Marcus Rashford’s last-minute winner against West Ham in January .
Fitness issues have hampered Cavani’s involvement hugely this term, with the striker missing a total of 23 matches in all competitions due to injury or illness. What’s more, the Uruguayan has only seen 761 minutes of action this term, in comparison to 2,180 last year.
Cavani provided a valuable asset for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last season, as United finished second in the Premier League. The striker scored 17 goals and provided six assists in 39 appearances, with an impressive end to the season.
In the Premier League, the veteran striker featured in eight of United’s final nine matches, scoring four goals in the process. He also proved pivotal to the Reds’ journey to the Europa League final, notching on six occasions across the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.
A teammate who will be hoping for Cavani to return from injury is fellow striker Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar has been the Reds’ primary source of goals this season, but a fruitful partnership with the Uruguayan seemed to be developing at the start of the year.
The duo have started together on just three occasions this term, but produced a combined tally of three goals and two assists in that time. Injuries for both have meant opportunities for the pair to partner each other have been limited, but if Cavani returns to fitness, Rangnick may place his faith in him in both veteran attackers.
As United look to close the gap between themselves and fourth-placed Tottenham in the final matches of the season, Rangnick needs to rely on proven experience and know-how. Cavani provides this, and the German will hope the Uruguayan can make a swift return for the run-in.