Erik ten Hag sets out plans for Man Utd
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Outgoing Manchester United striker Edinson Cavani was supposedly ready to quit the club after Cristiano Ronaldo took his first-team spot and No 7 jersey. Reports at the time indicated that the Uruguayan had offered to give up the coveted squad number off his own back, but new details suggest a different story.
Cavani was immense for United in 2020/21, notching 17 goals in all competitions as his natural attacking instinct was on full display. But Cristiano Ronaldo’s summer arrival was always going to make things complicated with just one spot up top.
Fans were jubilant when the Portuguese sealed a dramatic return to the club from Juventus, particularly after they nabbed him off Manchester City’s toes. But Cavani was supposedly less than happy at the new competition, and shortly after the iconic ‘CR7’ came through the door, his shirt number was gone too.
The message from United at the time was that Cavani had voluntarily given up his shirt. But ESPN claim that the decision ‘evaporated goodwill’ and the forward expressed a desire to move on.
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The mood soured even more when the Red Devils prevented him from doing so, despite January interest from Barcelona. The 35-year-old was forced to stick around as he finished the season with two goals, the lowest total since he was a teenager with Palermo.
A source told ESPN: “Cavani was p****d off by that. He did really well in a tough season during COVID-19 despite his difficulties adjusting to life in Manchester. He couldn’t believe that it got dark outside at 3pm in the winter, but he knew he wasn’t going to play with Ronaldo and wanted to join Barca.”
The player was not the only one to lose out as Cavani was one of United’s top earners, scooping up a reported £200,000-a-week. Having continued to shell out his hefty wages over the past few months, the club will not receive a penny for him this summer as he approaches the end of his contract.
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That means one less big name for Erik ten Hag to keep happy, and Ronaldo’s numbers have certainly been good enough to warrant the starting berth for another year. The veteran posted 18 Premier League goals this season, leaving him third in the race for the Golden Boot, and he is expected to be part of Ten Hag’s plans.
Ten Hag’s more likely summer priorities will lie in defence and midfield. United conceded more goals than relegated Burnley in the Premier League this season, and finished with a goal difference of zero.
Jurrien Timber could well follow the former Ajax boss to Old Trafford, but Ten Hag recently acknowledged that virtually every top club in Europe is after the young centre-back. In midfield, signing Frenkie de Jong supposedly remains a possibility, but a lack of Champions League football could render the deal a no-go.
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