Edinson Cavani is not yet back at Manchester United. And there could be a little longer left to wait too.

News was reported last night that Cavani may only jet back into Manchester later in the week. His availability for the Leeds game is in doubt.

The initial reaction is to blow up with frustration and ask why the striker has been unable to get back on time to be available for the season’s opening game.

And we could quite easily put together a stream of Twitter comments from fans with angry comments towards United and Cavani for letting this situation happen.

But we are not so interested in knee-jerk negativity. Let’s try and see some common sense applied in this situation.

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(Photo by DOUGLAS MAGNO/AFP via Getty Images)

Why is Edinson Cavani returning late?

Cavani’s season was extended due to his involvement at the Copa America. Uruguay were knocked out in the quarter-finals at the start of July.

United have given Cavani the obligatory month leave, and then some. It is a lenient stance from the club, and there is good reason why United may have indulged the striker.

Cavani made no secret that he found his initial spell in Manchester tough. With the lockdown late last year and in early 2021, and no supporters in stadiums, the striker understandably felt unsettled.

It was a close call as to whether Cavani would extend his contract. He held talks with Boca Juniors over a return to South America, before deciding to commit to United for one more year.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won plaudits for his man management skills, and he will be keenly aware that giving Cavani extra time in Uruguay with his family over the summer may actually pay off long term.

 

United will get back a happier and more refreshed striker, who at 35, was not going to play every single game anyway. A long season lies ahead and United will likely depend on him entering the run-in. Giving him a little extra rest now could reap benefits towards the end of the season.

Cavani is working on his fitness. He posted a video training back home last week on his Instagram page.

Last night he uploaded more images of his latest work on his fitness. While he may return to United a little late, Cavani aims to be in top condition upon his arrival.

How are United looking up front?

There is a question mark over the striker position for Manchester United’s starting line-up on the first day of the season.

Anthony Martial has played only 45 minutes of pre-season after a knee injury, against Everton at the weekend.

Mason Greenwood has started three games up front and one on the right. His one goal came when he started out wide, with Martial central.

United could play Greenwood up front as he is fitter than Martial, but this will open up a question over who will start on the right. Jadon Sancho has no minutes of pre-season and only returned to training yesterday.

Cavani would not have been a starter even if he returned to Manchester at the weekend. He would have needed to return to pre-season a week or so earlier, and this was always unlikely after the Copa America.

United’s second game is away at Southampton. The best case scenario for United is that Cavani is on the bench for that game. After his two-goal substitute display at St Mary’s last season, just the sight of him will put fear into the Saints defence.

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