Cavani showed why we want to keep him after firing Man Utd into final – Solskjaer

By Sports Desk May 06, 2021

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Edinson Cavani showed why the club want to keep him at Old Trafford after leading the Red Devils into the Europa League final.

Cavani scored twice in a 3-2 second-leg loss away to Roma on Thursday, but United still reached the tournament decider 8-5 on aggregate.

United star Cavani, who is out of contract at the end of the season following his arrival ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, found the back of the net in either half to ensure the Premier League giants reached their first final under Solskjaer.

After his opening-leg brace, Cavani became the first player to score two or more goals in both legs of a two-legged semi-final in a major European competition since Klaus Allofs for Cologne in the 1985-86 UEFA Cup. 

The 34-year-old Uruguay forward – linked with Boca Juniors – has scored 16 goals in his past 15 Europa League appearances, including 15 in his last 10 starts in the competition, while only against Monaco (15) has Cavani scored more goals in all competitions in his European career than Roma (13).

As United try to convince Cavani to prolong his stay in Manchester, Solskjaer hailed Paris Saint-Germain's all-time leading scorer.

"Edinson showed again why we want to keep him at Old Trafford," Solskjaer told reporters as United look ahead to a May 26 showdown against Villarreal.

"Football has its own language. I think Edinson has proven tonight, in the previous game, throughout his career, what a centre-forward should be doing, both on and off the ball.

"Both preparing for games and recovering from games, he's an absolute top professional, and everyone can learn from him. Everyone in my team."

United won the opening leg 6-2 in Manchester, but they were far from their best against Roma in the Italian capital.

Edin Dzeko and Bryan Cristante were on target for Roma on Thursday, while Nicola Zalewski's late strike deflected in off Alex Telles to earn the Italian side a victory on the day.

A stunning comeback could have been on the cards if not for United goalkeeper David de Gea, who made 10 saves in total to thwart rallying Roma.

De Gea has lost his starting position to Dean Henderson in the Premier League amid uncertainty over his future, but Solskjaer added: "David was vital. He was man of the match for me, the standout performer.

"The final's still three weeks away. We've got many games, but David put a very good application in, of course, with his performance. The proof is always on the pitch. You've got to perform and you keep your place in the team when you play well."

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    Vinicius has been directly involved in 37 goals for Madrid in all competitions this season, a tally that includes three goals and six assists in the Champions League.

    With those nine goal contributions, Vinicius is one short of becoming the first South American player 21 or under to be involved in 10 or more since Lionel Messi in the 2008-09 campaign.

    While it may be Karim Benzema who is at the centre of much of the pre-match focus in Paris, Alexander-Arnold will be tasked with dealing directly with Vinicius down Madrid's left.

    Asked ahead of Saturday's showpiece at the Stade de France how he intends to go about stopping Vinicius, Alexander-Arnold said: "You expect to come up against the best.

    "There will be battles all over the pitch; we have game plans for everyone we face.

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    Alexander-Arnold is set to start his third Champions League final, which would see him surpass the record for the youngest to do so, held by Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller (23y, 245d). Alexander-Arnold will be 23 years and 233 days old on Saturday.

    The England international has started 46 games for Liverpool this season – only Virgil van Dijk (50) and Alisson (53) have been used from the beginning more often.

     

     

    The most recent of Alexander-Arnold's starts came in last Sunday's 3-1 win against Wolves, which was not enough to prevent Manchester City from pipping the Reds to the Premier League title.

    Despite the dream of a quadruple being ended, Alexander-Arnold insists that loss will not linger over Liverpool in the French capital.

    "Not at all. We've put that behind us," he said. "We have the experience this season to focus on the competition we have ahead of us.

    "For us, we've found it useful to ignore other competitions. Whatever has happened before last week, yes it was disappointing and hard to take, but you put it behind you.

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    Andy Robertson will almost certainly be selected on the opposite flank to Alexander-Arnold, with the left-back himself playing a huge part in the Reds' latest European run.

    Liverpool are playing their 63rd game of the season – no side in Europe's top five leagues will have played more – having gone all the way in winning the FA Cup and EFL Cup.

    Indeed, the last side from across the Premier League, LaLiga, Ligue 1, Serie A and Bundesliga to play more times in all competitions were Manchester United in 2016-17 (64 games).

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    "They've obviously had a bit more relaxed preparation and wrapped up their league two or three weeks ago," Robertson said.

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    Madrid are into their fifth final in nine seasons following a series of incredible comeback victories in the three previous knockout rounds.

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    Leao scored 11 times and assisted eight in 34 Serie A appearances over the 2021-22 season, setting up two goals in the final-day 3-0 win over Sassuolo that sealed the title.

    No Milan player outscored him – Olivier Giroud also scored 11 league goals – or recorded more assisted for the Rossoneri this term.

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