When Manchester United moved to sign Edinson Cavani on deadline day the move divided opinion among supporters.
Snapping up the veteran on a free transfer seemed worth a gamble, especially considering a lack of star power with other transfers.
Cavani has been a breath of fresh air up front when he has featured, especially considering that Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood have taken a backwards step this season.
But there were concerns over the move, and while Cavani’s performances have dismissed comparisons to Radamel Falcao, one of worries is still showing up as a reason.
This is the issue of fitness. Cavani missed the Manchester derby on Sunday, for the second time this season.
Cavani was a surprise absentee against City after starting in midweek against Crystal Palace.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told the club website the striker had a setback in training on Saturday.
Cavani had just returned from an injury which caused him to miss the away game at Chelsea, and the two Europa League matches against Real Sociedad, plus the home game with Newcastle.
Earlier in the season, back in December, Cavani missed the earlier league match with City at Old Trafford.
This injury also caused him to miss the decisive Champions League group stage match away at RB Leipzig.
Needs to end strongly
It’s not uncommon for players to have a couple of spells out with injury. If it gets worse, then United may have a bigger problem.
Cavani’s final season at Paris Saint-Germain was hampered by various injuries. He played only 14 Ligue 1 matches in total, of which just seven were starts.
Currently Cavani has started only nine Premier League games for United this season, with a further nine appearances from the bench.
For a striker who United consider to be the club’s best, at present, you would want to see more than nine league starts to his name by this stage, even considering his late arrival, rotation, and unfortunate suspension.
Cavani can still play a big part in United finishing the season strongly in the league, and hopefully winning a trophy too.
But unfortunately you can’t escape that his fitness record isn’t great. He has started just 16 league games now in two seasons.
United have an option to extend Cavani’s contract, and are likely to take it up. If his injury record worsens, United may become more active in looking at alternatives.
If an opportunity to sign a young elite striker like Erling Haaland comes up, United shouldn’t let an injury prone Cavani stand in their way.
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