We continue our look into the campaigns Manchester United players had in this hectic and never shorter season played in the pandemic. It is time for the brilliant Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan striker came last summer after a lot of talk of his next destination, following exit from Paris Saint-Germain. He was very close to joining Benfica, but his salary and bonus requirements made it tough on the Portuguese side and they decided to halt everything due to his high demands. That did not make things hard for Cavani, in fact it allowed him to make a much better move and join Manchester United. In the end, the then 33-year-old decided to sign a one-year contract with the Red Devils, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needed an experienced centre-forward who will be able to improve the team. And Cavani did exactly that.
Edinson Cavani made 39 appearances across all competitions this season and he scored 17 goals, assisting another six. He played 2180 minutes in total this year, a good amount for someone his age who also had injury problems and was often coming in and out of the side. His Premier League tally counts as 10 goals and three assists in 26 appearances, while he shined in the Europa League, with six goals and three assists in just five matches played. In four Champions League and three FA Cup games he did not manage to get on the scoresheet, while he did score once in his only League Cup match. Overall, this has been a really good season for the experienced striker, but let’s take a closer look into his numbers.
Edinson Cavani proved he is an elite centre-forward even at this stage of his career, at least in terms of Premier League underlying metrics. His 0.69 non-penalty goals per 90 minutes put him in the 97th percentile in the league, while his non-penalty expected goals (npxG) of 0.55 are also in the 91th percentile. Not many strikers managed to get such numbers and his 0.17 expected assists per 90 also prove he was very useful in creating chances for others (that puts him into 75th percentile). His pass completion of 79.9 per cent made him reliable in possession and he also made an incredibly big number of tackles and interceptions (1.75 per 90 minutes in total), showing his off-the-ball work was truly great. It is really incredible how Cavani manages to be so useful in so many different areas of play despite the fact he is well into his 30s.
Edinson Cavani has proved to be a really good solution for Manchester United for many of their problems in attack, however, there are logically questions still being asked. Man United are too big of a club to be relying on a 34-year-old centre-forward who cannot get injured if the team is to have such a strong option in his position. Man United’s long-term planning has failed a little bit here and Cavani is there to somewhat mask the problem. That is not something that should concern the player and he is doing very well indeed, proving that he is still a real class of a player. Hopefully he will be able to continue performing in 2021-22 season.