Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thinks Edinson Cavani could forge a longer-term career at Manchester United, saying the striker has “a few years left” at the highest level.
Cavani arrived on the October 5 deadline day at the end of the previous transfer window, in which the Red Devils’ business again came under scrutiny.
With a move for long-standing target Jadon Sancho not coming to fruition and Donny van de Beek their only major signing, United agreed a flurry of deals in the final hours, bringing in Cavani on a free transfer alongside Alex Telles from Porto, Facundo Pellistri from Penarol and Amad Diallo from Atalanta – the latter is due to arrive next month.
Despite the rushed nature of his move, Cavani has had a telling impact in England even though he has made seven of his eight Premier League appearances as a substitute.
He scored twice and set up another to help United come from 2-0 down to beat Southampton 3-2 last month after netting his first goal in the 3-1 win at Everton, and he also broke the deadlock in the 2-0 EFL Cup win at Goodison Park last week. He then assisted Bruno Fernandes’ goal in the 2-2 draw at Leicester City on Boxing Day.
Along with three goals and two assists in his past six appearances, the former Paris Saint-Germain star offers United a different focal point in attack, bringing what was described by Marcus Rashford as “another dimension” to a young forward line.
Cavani’s one-year deal contains the option of a second and, while he would not offer any assurances over his future, manager Solskjaer appears convinced the Uruguayan could offer a lot to his side if he is kept on for next season.
2002 – Edinson Cavani is only the second player to both score and assist a goal after coming on as a substitute in an away Premier League for Manchester United, after Ruud van Nistelrooy against Charlton in September 2002. Saviour. pic.twitter.com/c57Csq51pI
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 29, 2020
“At the moment, it looks like he’s got a few years left in him,” said Solskjaer. “I wouldn’t say anything else. He’s made a great impact, so let’s just focus on improving everyone.
“But he’s got a few years left in him.”
Solskjaer insisted Cavani is “definitely a starter” despite his predominant substitute role and brings confidence befitting the number seven shirt.
“I trust him, I trust my players, and we’ve got good competition for places. He’ll probably start more games than he won’t start,” he said.
“That was the first thing he asked me, if he could wear the number seven. We talk about the history of the shirt and for me, with the history of his career, his personality, the chat I had with him and when I watched him before, I wasn’t in doubt that he could handle that number seven shirt.
“He’s so meticulous, professional. His habits, everything about it shows why he’s had the career he’s had. Even at the age he is now, he’s one of the fittest players we’ve got.”
Solskjaer’s men had to settle for a draw at Leicester after Axel Tuanzebe’s late own goal, but they are on an eight-game unbeaten run in the league and sit only five points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand.
The United boss thinks the improved recent form of captain Harry Maguire has had a positive impact on results and performances.
“Harry’s a strong character and a very good player and he’s led from the back, if you put it that way,” he said. “He’s really been putting himself forward, always wants to play, he never wants to rest, and he’s really improved throughout the season – with the team, of course. We can see more and more maturity and leadership from Harry every game.
“I support Harry and he’s such a good human being and he’s in there, leading the dressing room, he’s very humble, hard-working, he knows when he has to hold his hands up.”
Ole: “We have high ambitions and standards that we want to live up to, because we want to win every game.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 26, 2020
United had been on a run of just one win in eight home league games before the visit of Leeds United on December 20, when the Red Devils triumphed 6-2.
Solskjaer hopes that display will leave his players full of confidence for Tuesday’s visit of Wolves.
“When the last game you played at Old Trafford gave you six goals, I’m sure the boys will look forward to [the next one],” he added.
“It gave us confidence, that performance. It was a little gauge on how fit we are, that we could match them fitness-wise. We have loads of games in a short space of time but Wolves have got an even shorter turnaround this time, but they haven’t had a midweek game.
“We’ve had so many tight games against them. We are improving, definitely, we’re getting better and better at finding different solutions in different games but we know Wolves have got quality as well, that they will give us problems if we’re too open, so we’ve got to put a plan together.”