Edinson Cavani has admitted that his initial fears over his role at Manchester United after Cristiano Ronaldo's return to the club have come true.
United snapped Cavani up on a free transfer in October 2020, two months after his departure from Paris Saint-Germain, and he enjoyed an impressive debut campaign at Old Trafford.
The Uruguayan scored 17 goals in 39 appearances for the Red Devils to help them finish second in the Premier League and reach a Europa League final, earning a one-year contract extension in the process, but he has faded into the background in 2021-22.
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What has Cavani said about Ronaldo?
Ronaldo re-joined United from Juventus last summer, and has since led the line as the club's first-choice centre-forward, while Cavani has slipped way down the pecking order amid a number of niggling fitness problems.
The 35-year-old says he predicted a difficult campaign as soon as the Portuguese superstar's return was confirmed, and has been disappointed to have been proven right.
"At the moment it was done, I thought it was a good thing for Manchester to sign Cristiano," Cavani said in an interview with ESPN Brazil. "Knowing a bit about the world of football these days, the first thing I did was call my [brother and agent Walter Fernando Guglielmone] and said: 'Fernando, if this had happened a week ago, I would ask you to find me another club.'
"But not because I didn't want to play with Cristiano Ronaldo. No. Because I had the opportunity to know him, and he is a great professional, with his targets, and that is perfect for a sportsman. But as I know, after years in football, how things work these days. That's why I spoke to my brother.
"It was more about understanding the situation. Not because I couldn't play in my role at Manchester, but because there are many things in football nowadays that are different from how they were with other people, how it was before, years ago. And since it happened suddenly, I felt nothing. I thought: We'll play, do the best we can.
"Regardless of my injuries at the club, which kept me out of the season for a bit... I experienced difficult situations, different from the ones I faced last year. And after a few months, I called my brother again and said, 'Remember what you said at the start of the season?' Before the season started. There are no secrets in football. For me, it's very clear how it works, and I have a way to see football that nobody takes away from me.
"So I called my brother and said that. And he was like: 'Stay positive, Edi, you will do a good job...' He told me a lot of things. I had no doubt that everything could be better, 'But let's see what happens from now on.' And everything happened like we all know and that's it, here we are, I'm trying to do my best to help my team, like everywhere else I've been, but my way of thinking and seeing football showed me that I was right in the first few months and on... I had my problems with injuries and I've been away for a while. But that was a bit of what happened in that stretch."
What's Cavani's next move?
Cavani is set to become a free agent again on June 30 with no sign on renewal being offered in Manchester, and he has been strongly linked with a move to Argentine outfit Boca Juniors.
GOAL has reported that Botafogo are also interested in the veteran forward, but Guglielmone insists that his client wants to remain in Europe.
Barcelona have been credited with an interest in Cavani in recent months, and his agent has said to El Pais: "At the moment that is not true [the Boca rumours].
"Everything is dynamic. The priority is to continue in Europe.”