Cavani shows Man Utd why it will be so hard to replace El Matador this summer

Edinson Cavani Tottenham vs Man Utd Premier League 2020-21
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The 34-year-old is expected to leave Old Trafford this summer as he eyes a move back to South America, but he was at his brilliant best against Spurs

Match statistics: Tottenham 1-3 Manchester United

Whether Edinson Cavani will remain at Manchester United beyond the end of the season remains up in the air.

One sure thing, though, is that the Red Devils are a more potent attacking side with the veteran striker leading the line.

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At 34, Cavani may be about to enter the twilight of his career, but against Tottenham on Sunday he showed he remains among the world's elite number nines as he inspired United to a come-from-behind 3-1 win in north London.

For all the pace and raw talent United have in their attacking ranks, it is clear that the intelligence and killer instinct that Cavani possesses sets him out from the crowd.

His finishing remains clinical, but it is movement in and around the penalty area which truly sets him apart.

And that is why, if he does depart Old Trafford this summer, he will be so difficult to replace.

Cavani's father admitted in March that his son is keen to leave United when his contract expires this summer, with widespread reports suggesting Boca Juniors would be his favoured destination.

It is understood that the ex-Paris Saint-Germain star has struggled to adapt to living in a new country since his arrival in Manchester as a free agent in October, while the three-match ban he received from the Football Association for a racially insensitive social media post was not well received by the Uruguay international.

And when Cavani's opener here was surprisingly ruled out following a VAR review after Scott McTominay was deemed to have fouled Son Heung-min in the build-up, he could have been forgiven for just packing up and leaving, so baffling was the decision.

Chris Kavanagh Tottenham vs Man Utd Premier League 2020-21

Solskjaer had warned his players not to be "conned" by their opponents after Anthony Martial was controversially red-carded in the early-season 6-1 loss to Jose Mourinho's side, but if anything it was the officials who were taken in by Son's theatrics at the Tottenham Hostpur Stadium.

The decision brought back a goal that was brilliantly created by Paul Pogba, who waited patiently for Cavani to make his run before playing in the striker to slide a finish past Hugo Lloris, and salt was only added to the wound when Son gave Spurs the lead five minutes later.

That sequence lit a fire in a match that had been lacking in incident during the opening 30 minutes, and United arrived for the second half playing the role of a wounded animal, and one which knows how to lift itself from disappointment given how many times they have come from behind to win this season.

Pogba was immense after the break, and almost found Cavani for an equaliser early in the second period, only for Joe Rodon to cut out the France midfielder's cross as Cavani flew towards the near post.

It was the latter's movement which eventually led to United getting themselves back in the game, as he got in behind the Tottenham defence before his shot was parried into the path of Fred to fire home from close range.

Fred Tottenham vs Man Utd Premier League 2020-21

This was only the Brazilian's second goal in a United shirt, and his first since the autumn of 2018. Having taken 73 shots in between times, Fred's lack of prowess in front of goal has become something of a running joke among United fans, but they were thankful for his presence in the six-yard box here.

That set the stage for Cavani to get the goal his performance deserved, as he again showed clever movement to get himself free to send a diving header from Mason Greenwood's delightful cross into the bottom corner with 11 minutes left on the clock.

Only Dominic Calvert-Lewin (six) has more headed goals in the Premier League this season than Cavani's five, and though 'El Matador' only has eight goals in all competitions this season, his contribution has still been key to United being comfortably second in the table.

"A performance like today, we as a club have missed for a few years," Solskjaer said post-match as he revealed that he is still waiting to find out where Cavani's future lies.

"We haven’t had that type of No.9 for a long long spell. Edinson has been working so, so hard to get fit, and now he’s getting a couple of games in a short space of time and we can see the boys played to his strengths."

Should Cavani leave, it is expected that Greenwood - who added a third in stoppage time after Dean Henderson made key saves from Son and Harry Kane - will begin to play more in his favoured No.9 role, though signing a more proven central striker will remain a priority this summer.

Finding one who is as clever and clinical as Cavani promises to be near impossible for those in charge at Old Trafford.

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