Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must think carefully about his handling of Edinson Cavani when Newcastle visit Old Trafford on Saturday. El Matador was forced to stay at Carrington during the international break after Manchester United stopped him from linking up with the Uruguay squad for World Cup qualifiers against Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Cavani made it clear he was not happy with the situation by posting a series of question marks on social media in response to a screenshot of the Premier League’s statement confirming stars would have to quarantine for 10 days upon their return to England.
Still, Cavani wanted to go, particularly with his country still fighting to secure qualification for Qatar 2022, a tournament that is likely to be his last World Cup.
Nonetheless, he wasn’t alone and a number of Brazilian internationals were blocked from joining up with the national team by Premier League clubs.
That includes Fred, who has now been slapped with a five-day ban by FIFA alongside seven of his compatriots: Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Ederson, Raphinha and Thiago Silva.
As it stands, it remains unclear whether the Uruguayan FA will follow in the same footsteps as Brazil and request a ban for Cavani.
The Portuguese international is now widely regarded as a centre-forward, meaning he will be competing with Cavani for a place in the starting XI.
Previously, Ronaldo would have been a guaranteed start out wide but now he plays his football predominantly through the middle.
Given Cavani has already given up his No 7 shirt for Ronaldo, it could prove to be a further kick in the teeth if he finds himself on the bench.
Solskjaer has shown loyalty to the likes of Daniel James and Anthony Martial when they have come under criticism, so he is not afraid to go against the grain.
That’s why it would be no surprise if Cavani’s hard work in training was rewarded with a first start of the season as a consolation for missing the international break.
Should Cavani be left out of the starting XI, Solskjaer would be risking damaging his relationship with the player, who he convinced to stay after weeks of campaigning.
His experience and goalscoring ability could prove key over the course of a long season and for that reason, this is not the time to make him feel like a spare part.
United are adamant Cavani remains in Solskjaer’s plans and now would be the best time for the Norwegian to show it…