Edinson Cavani staying for a second season at Manchester United would benefit not just the team on the pitch but also the development of the club’s young forwards, according to Gary Neville.
Cavani scored his seventh league goal of the campaign on Sunday, heading in a cross from Mason Greenwood to put United 2-1 ahead against Tottenham.
Substitute Greenwood added a third in stoppage time to wrap up the victory, with Neville believing the young England international’s development – along with that of club and country colleague Marcus Rashford – can only be helped by working regularly with Cavani.
The Uruguayan signed as a free agent and while United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer remains hopeful the player will remain at the club, speculation has suggested the striker wants to return to South America.
“Tottenham had a throw with two minutes to go, and Cavani was moving between the centre-backs trying to stop the ball from being thrown in, and he’s organising where Mason Greenwood should be,” Neville explained on his podcast for Sky Sports. “I thought, ‘Greenwood needs another year of Cavani being alongside him.’
“It inspired us as young players when you saw great players like Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce and Eric Cantona and Mark Hughes.
“You see the best players in the world, or those who have been the best in the world like Cavani, doing his work like that in the 94th minute, someone like Greenwood, who needs people who are mentors, good standards above him, who can coach him on the pitch, I just thought him and Marcus Rashford need another year of Cavani.
“He’s been a really brilliant example. I was a little bit nervous of him coming in, because of [Radamel] Falcao, Alexis Sanchez, showcase signings. This one has been different. He’s really applied himself brilliantly and has been a big help to Manchester United.
“He does the right things. The right movements. It’s clockwork, that run across the defender, across the near post, the one you’re always trying to get young strikers to do.”
5 – Five of Edinson Cavani’s seven Premier League goals for Manchester United have been headed; indeed, only Dominic Calvert-Lewin has scored more headed goals in this season’s competition (six) than the Uruguayan. Force. pic.twitter.com/K9btQfsxgk
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 11, 2021
Cavani has scored eight times in all competitions since his arrival at Old Trafford, averaging out at a goal every 195.5 minutes – only Bruno Fernandes and Rashford have managed more.
However, the former Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain player has a better shot conversion rate (20.5 per cent) than both that pair, demonstrating his value to the side.
Solskjaer made clear after the away triumph at Spurs that he remains hopeful the 34-year-old will be part of his squad for the 2021-22 season.
“He knows my feelings; I know his feelings. He’s not made up his mind yet,” the United boss told the media.
“I understand that it’s been a difficult year for everyone, but for a new lad who doesn’t speak English, not to feel the English culture, to go see people, have friends around… it’s in the back of your head if this is what you want, you know you can’t have your family over.
“Fingers crossed, but if he decides that it’s just this season, then we’ve been very, very fortunate to have him here.”
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