Manchester United could be about to lose another Henrik Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Man Utd: Forlan names who Cavani would thrive alongside

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If Manchester United do let Edinson Cavani go, it’s likely he’ll be remembered as another Henrik Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. A striker who, for all his talent, wasn’t at Old Trafford for anywhere near long enough. Barcelona are keen on the veteran, especially given their need to sign a new forward in the wake of Sergio Aguero’s sad retirement.

Barcelona signed Aguero in the summer, with the 33-year-old moving on a free transfer from Manchester City.

Yet the veteran has now had to retire in the wake of being diagnosed with a heart condition.

Now, Barcelona are expected to up the ante over Cavani by trying to sign him in next month’s transfer window.

The 34-year-old has struggled for action at United this season, ever since the Hollywood homecoming of Cristiano Ronaldo back in the summer.

With just one goal, and the injuries mounting up, a change of scenery may benefit everybody involved.

Yet there’s also a sense that if United do let Cavani go, it will be a premature move.

The striker showed last season exactly what he’s all about, netting 17 goals across all competitions with only Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes scoring more.

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So good was Cavani that the club did everything to keep him, especially with a move to South America appearing to be on the cards.

They were successful, too, with the veteran eventually signing a new contract with the club in May.

And if United allow Cavani to leave Old Trafford, at such a crucial point in the season, he’ll join Larsson and Ibrahimovic as part of the gone-too-soon club.

In January 2007, with United trying to beat Chelsea to the Premier League title, Sir Alex Ferguson brought Larsson in on loan.

The Sweden international made an instant impact, netting on his debut in a 2-1 FA Cup victory over Aston Villa.

And Larsson emerged as a key figure for United, while his presence also allowed Ferguson to give the likes of Wayne Rooney and Ronaldo a breather.

United wanted him to stay longer than March, when his loan deal expired.


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But that didn’t happen and, though they won the title, Ronaldo and Rooney looked jaded by the end of the season having barely been rested.

At the time of Larsson’s departure, United were on course for the treble.

Yet they were hammered by AC Milan in the Champions League semi-finals before losing to Chelsea in the first FA Cup final at the new Wembley.

In his second autobiography, Ferguson admitted he’d been eager for Larsson to extend his stay. He wrote: “On arrival at United, he seemed a bit of a cult figure with our players. They would say his name in awed tones.

“For a man of 35 years of age, his receptiveness to information on the coaching side was amazing.

“At every session he was rapt. He wanted to listen to Carlos (Queiroz), the tactics lectures; he was into every nuance of what we did.

“In his last game in our colours at Middlesbrough, we were winning 2-1 and Henrik went back to play in midfield and ran his balls off.

“On his return to the dressing room, all the players stood up and applauded him, and the staff joined in. It takes some player to make that kind of impact in two months.

“Cult status can vanish in two minutes if a player isn’t doing his job. Yet Henrik retained that aura in his time with us. He looked a natural Man United player, with his movement and courage.”

He also added: “I would have done anything to keep him.”

United also were too hasty in losing Ibrahimovic, too.

They allowed the veteran to join LA Galaxy in March 2018 after writing him off due to a serious knee injury sustained the year before.

But Ibrahimovic proved there was life in the old dog yet by taking America by storm, with 53 goals in 48 matches.

He’s also since shone for AC Milan in Italy, with seven goals from 10 matches this term and 15 goals from 19 appearances the previous year.

Given United were stuck with a clunky Romelu Lukaku and inconsistent Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, Ibrahimovic should have been retained.

Now, United need to learn from the lessons of the past.

Is allowing Cavani to go really the wisest of ideas? Especially with Martial and Rashford just as inconsistent as they a few years ago?

The striker, when fully fit and firing, is still one of Europe’s best. There are certainly far more benefits to keeping him than letting him go.

If not, they certainly run the risk of Cavani flourishing elsewhere. Just like Larsson and Ibrahimovic before him. 

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