Cavani mustn't let controversy affect his mindset ahead of PSG reunion – Solskjaer

By Ryan Benson 1 December 2020 26
Cavani mustn't let controversy affect his mindset ahead of PSG reunion – Solskjaer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has challenged Edinson Cavani to not let his recent social media faux pas impact his mindset ahead of a crucial Champions League reunion with former club Paris Saint-Germain.

Cavani was the star of the show and United's saviour in Sunday's 3-2 win over Southampton, coming off the bench to claim an assist and two goals – in doing so, he became the first player since Solskjaer in 1999 to have at least three goal involvements as a substitute in a single Premier League game.

But his performance and accomplishment were overshadowed late that night when a social media post he published contained a Spanish phrase many would consider to be racially insensitive.

Cavani deleted it once he had been informed of its potential to cause offence and issued an apology on Monday, explaining that it was meant as a show of affection towards a friend who had paid tribute to him.

On Wednesday, United host PSG – of whom Cavani is still the record goalscorer – in the Champions League knowing a point will be enough to secure a last-16 place, but unsurprisingly the attention was on Cavani in Solskjaer's pre-match news conference.

"Of course, we communicated with Edi, he's deeply sorry for the mistake," Solskjaer told reporters. "There was no malicious intent, just an affectionate greeting to a friend of his. We've explained to him and he's been asked to explain to the FA [Football Association], so of course he'll cooperate with them and we'll support him."

Solskjaer also stressed the importance of the FA getting involved, insisting United must play their part in stamping out discrimination.

"I think it's one of those unfortunate situations where he's just come into the country, where in Uruguay it's used in a different way to here," he continued. "We'll support him, but we support the FA and it's important they've asked him to explain and that it's out there for everyone to see, because we want to be in the fight against discrimination with everyone."

But Solskjaer accepts the controversy, coupled with the emotional aspect of Cavani facing his old club, could have an impact on the striker's mindset.

He said: "He's ready to play. Of course, it's special for him to play against PSG, so that'll affect him mentally and, I think from knowing him, it'll give him energy. He'll be ready, he's so professional and experienced.

"He'll work on his mindset today and tomorrow to be ready, which the same goes for the FA situation.

"He's learned his lesson - it may affect him, but he just needs to put it to the side during the game. The best players can put the problems or the other thoughts away for a while and then perform when he has to."

His social media mistake aside, Solskjaer has been impressed by Cavani since his arrival at the start of October – though he urged the Uruguayan to get better at parking his car.

"I've been impressed with his attention to detail in everything - apart from his parking. He's parking too close to the other players and coaching staff sometimes," Solskjaer quipped.

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Ryan Benson

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