Edinson Cavani asked Ralf Rangnick not to start him in Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Monday.
The 34-year-old striker made his first appearance for the club since November 2 on Tyneside. And he made an impact with the equalising goal in the draw with the relegation-threatened side. Cavani arrived at half-time for Mason Greenwood after Rangnick had seen enough in a disappointing first period.
The Uruguayan duly obliged with scruffy finish on 71 minutes to pull Rangnick’s men level. But the German has revealed he wanted more minutes from Cavani and had planned to start the veteran.
The player though, who is out of contract next summer, refused to start due to concerns over his fitness.
Asked if Cavani would be fit to face Burnley on Thursday, Rangnick said: “Yeah. Actually, in the last two days, I was considering to play him from the start.
“I spoke with him yesterday and the day before yesterday and he didn’t feel comfortable playing from the beginning because he didn’t know how fit he really was.
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“Today, being 1-0 down at half-time, it was clear to me we needed to take more risks and to change something. That’s why we decided to bring him and Jadon [Sancho] on at half-time.”
The former Paris Saint-Germain forward has proved to be a useful bit-part player with 19 goals in 48 games. And Cavani was persuaded to sign a new one-year deal in the summer by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Cavani availability issues
He has though been strongly linked with a move to Barcelona in January. And if he is still around next summer he will then be expected to move back to South America ahead of the December 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Cavani though has created issues over his availability previously.
The Manchester Evening News revealed in March that Cavani had declared himself unfit for games which the United medical team had declared him for.
He was then named in the travelling squad for the Europa League round-of-16 second leg against AC Milan only to withdraw hours later.
And last summer he was allowed seven weeks off after playing in the Copa America. Again there was a disagreement over his conditioning for the game at Southampton. A match which Cavani eventually did not travel to leaving Solskjaer to start with Anthony Martial as his central striker.