EDINSON CAVANI is finally featuring in the Premier League — ten years after he thought he would.
The Uruguay striker made his Manchester United debut as a substitute in last Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea — before featuring in the 5-0 midweek Champions League thrashing of RB Leipzig.
Yet Cavani would have joined rivals Manchester City a decade ago had the owner of Palermo not sold him to his mate at Napoli instead.
Palermo’s former general manager, Rino Foschi, is convinced the 33-year-old — who is pushing for a start against Arsenal today — will be a massive hit in the red half of Manchester.
Foschi said: “During the South American Under-20 Championship in Paraguay in January 2007, two strikers were on stage.
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Besides a very expensive Alexandre Pato, who finished at AC Milan for €22million, there was another one who was cheaper.
“We took Cavani from Danubio of Montevideo for just €3.9m.
“Also, Fabio Capello and Franco Baldini, then in charge at Real Madrid, wanted him — so Edi was hidden for two days in a hotel at Milan until his contract’s signature.
“In 2010, Roberto Mancini wanted him at Manchester City but Palermo’s owner, Maurizio Zamparini, preferred to sell Cavani to his friend Aurelio de Laurentiis, Napoli’s chairman.
“I know Edi has wanted to play in the Premier League for a long time and for him now to put on Man United’s legendary No 7 shirt is a big honour.
“He is 33 and so far he hasn’t suffered serious injuries, so he can play at the top level for at least three years.”
Cavani’s first coach at Palmero was Francesco Guidolin, who later went on to boss Swansea.
He said: “Cavani was young but immediately it was possible to see his interesting qualities.
“Then, he played as an outside striker and I remember the wonderful goal he scored on his debut with Palermo against Fiorentina in March 2007.
“I remember him as a serious, silent lad and we had a good relationship. In my opinion he can play on many sides of the pitch as a midfielder or as a striker.
“For Man United, Cavani is a very good signing. He knows this is a big chance for himself so I believe he’ll play well in the Premier League.”
Another of Cavani’s coaches at Palermo was Davide Ballardini, who switched him to a No 9.
He said: “I am sure he will be crucial for Manchester United.
“He is serious but he has a strong personality — and I believe Man United will get an advantage in the Premier League with this signing.”
Cavani’s three-year spell at Napoli saw him score more than 100 goals under Walter Mazzarri, the former Watford boss.
Mazzarri said: “Cavani is the classic player whom every coach would like to work with. A very strong player and a great man.
“He is a fighter. In Manchester United his strength can be very important for all the team.”
United snapped up Cavani on a free transfer after his contract had ended at Paris Saint-Germain — where he scored 200 goals and won six league titles after joining for £55m in 2013.
But he missed PSG’s Champions League final loss to Bayern Munich this summer because he refused to sign a two-month extension.
Thiago Silva, who has since left PSG for Chelsea, said: “We missed him. He was our matador, he was super important for us.”
Now United fans will hope the same is true for them.
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