Edinson Cavani proved Man Utd can stick to Jadon Sancho transfer plan in Fulham draw

Talk about a goal to crown the return of Manchester United supporters to Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer regularly said before Edinson Cavani penned a one-year contract extension that he wanted the Uruguayan to get a taste of scoring a goal in a sold-out Theatre of Dreams. There was only 10,000 here and yet it was still some moment when he found the back of the net from long range.

On a day where Tottenham striker Harry Kane‘s future was the dominant story in the build-up to kick-off, Cavani produced an opportune reminder of his timeless quality with his 16th goal of the season in a 1-0 win over already-relegated Fulham.

It was probably his best United goal yet, floating a sumptuous lob over Alphonse Areola from fully 40 yards at the Stretford End after excellent movement to find space through the middle of United’s back-line – though he was perhaps lucky Bruno Fernandes was adjudged to have flicked on David de Gea’s goal kick, meaning he was not ruled offside.

The South American veteran now boasts 22 direct goal involvements in 38 matches this season, averaging a goal or an assist every 93 minutes across all competitions.

Cavani has been a huge hit in Manchester since linking up with Solskjaer’s side on a free transfer after his contract at Paris Saint-Germain ran out.

And perhaps his latest moment of brilliance here was a message to the United hierarchy that they need not panic in the wake of fresh reports that Kane wants out of Spurs this summer.

The Red Devils boardroom will be mulling over whether or not they need to adapt their plans for the upcoming transfer window with it claimed they, Chelsea and Manchester City are all interested in the striker’s talents.

The Daily Star claimed earlier this month that Borussia Dortmund wide-man Jadon Sancho was top of the shopping list, while a new starting centre-back is another top priority.

The fact United conceded so cheaply late on to Joe Bryan to throw away the full three points against Fulham was certainly evidence of the need for fresh quality at the back.

And Cavani’s second-half of the season has also perhaps indicated they don’t need to splash big money on Kane, particularly on top of their need to sign a centre-half to partner captain Harry Maguire and their long-standing desire to land an elite-level right-sided forward, aka Sancho.

Should United land Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane and also make another effort to sign Kane’s England team-mate, that would set United back a cool £120m – at least.

Kane would be more than that on his own, perhaps costing in excess of £150m. A deal would almost double United’s transfer record, the £89m they spent on Paul Pogba back in 2016, and it would require intense negotiations with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who has frustrated the Red Devils before.

It emerged on Tuesday that City are the likeliest destination for Kane however as a long-term replacement for Sergio Aguero, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

City signing Kane would of course strengthen Pep Guardiola’s champions significantly, but it would also take a major player out of the running for Borussia Dortmund number nine Erling Haaland next year.

Suddenly, United would have to really fancy their chances of beating the competition for the Norwegian, who is seven years Kane’s junior and has not endured the same injury problems as the England captain. He would also be a lot cheaper.

Chelsea and Real Madrid would still be formidable rivals, while Bayern Munich might want to get involved in the fight come 2022, but United would stand as good a chance as any if they maintain their current level of progression and if Solskjaer, who Haaland worked with at Molde, remains at the helm.

And were the Norwegian coach able to add Varane and Sancho to his first-team squad this summer, and then Haaland at a discounted £64m next year thanks to a release clause, United’s starting eleven would have three new world-class players for 2022-23 onwards, to complement their array of other talents such as Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.

The Daily Mirror‘s report about interest in French centre-back Varane says Solskjaer wants two or three top-level additions this summer, but perhaps he might be inclined to wait for Haaland.

On this evidence, if Cavani can stay fit, he can provide 20 Premier League goals next season. Not to forget Anthony Martial and Greenwood are capable of playing down the middle too.

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Signing Kane or Haaland as well as Sancho and Varane, or Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, is the dream for some United fans but Cavani continues to make clear they already have a centre-forward capable of delivering plenty of goals. And plenty of high-quality goals, too.

Kane might arguably be the most all-rounded striker on the planet but it makes more sense to spend £185m on the trio of Sancho, Varane and Haaland combined, across this year and next year, than £150m or more on the Tottenham striker.

After all, Dimitar Berbatov reckons United have their own Kane anyway, writing for Betfair recently: “I rate Cavani very highly. I don’t like comparing players, but he reminds me slightly of Harry Kane; he just has all the qualities of a great striker.

“Not just scoring goals, he makes great movement, he drops deep, he plays the ball forward, he creates goals. He is essentially multi-tasking in a way. He defends, he just has great qualities.”

And if Cavani can maintain the scoring form he’s showed in the past few months into the start of next season, United might be able to dream of ending their title drought even before Haaland comes through the door, regardless of what happens to Kane.


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