Things are finally looking up for Manchester United this season. They have improved in the Premier League this season, and are the favourites to win the Europa League. Among the more underrated contributors to this squad, the 34-year-old Edinson Cavani has been excellent. He has been a key participant in United’s possession chains and has scored some important goals for the Red Devils.
As the season approaches its climax, the club needs to think about finding a deadly number 9 with fresher legs than Cavani. And in a COVID-19 era, United’s transfer committee will look to improve upon their dealings in the past and make quieter, value signings.
Instead of digging deep into their pockets, this tactical analysis suggests smarter replacements for Cavani. Our analysis includes players under the sub £80 million price tag that will fit into Ole Gunnar Solsjaer’s tactics.
1. Youssef En-Nesyri (Sevilla)
En-Nesyri has been one of La Liga’s most deadly finishers, having scored 16 goals in 20 appearances (across all competitions) at centre-forward. Despite not contributing as much in terms of key passes and assists, the 23-year-old Moroccan international is a poacher and will ease the pressure off Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial by playing the role of a classic number 9 for United.
As shown in the above comparison, En-Nesyri largely records a higher attacking output compared to Cavani. And while the Moroccan lacks in creativity, the players around him in Bruno Fernandes would be sure to make up for that. For a transfer fee of £30 million, En-Nesyri will be a reliable option to receive the final pass and get more goals for United.
2. Raul Jimenez (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Being linked with the likes of Liverpool and Juventus, Jimenez matches Cavani in size and output and has previously been linked to United. The Mexican’s profile consists of a lethal combination of poaching as well as false 9 duties. Jimenez provides a strong aerial threat and the ability to make key passes from central positions.
Both strikers are similar in their core mould in the above radar charts. However, Jimenez stands out in his passing and dribbling abilities. This suggests that the Mexican will play a key role in United’s possession chains in the final third. Valued at £35 million, this is a move that is sure to make a statement across the Premier League.
3. Wout Weghorst (Wolfsburg)
This one may seem like a bit of a wild card, but has the highest statistical similarity to Cavani. Wout Weghorst has arguably had his best season at Wolfsburg by recording a whopping 17 goals and 5 assists in the Bundesliga. In addition, the Dutch number 9 averages 2.8 shots per game and 1.25 key passes per 90.
The above comparison illustrates the stark similarity between the moulds of both strikers. And Werghost notably outperforms the Uruguayan in playmaking metrics. Currently valued at 30 million, Werghost will be a strong addition to Solskjaer’s squad. If the Dutch striker can consistently record 15-20 goals per season in all competitions, it would be exceedingly difficult to write the Red Devils off as title contenders.