Edinson Cavani’s iconic moments for Man Utd, PSG and Uruguay

Edinson Cavani showed his quality and composure by scoring Manchester United's equaliser in the Europa League final, and also netting in the penalty shootout which ended 11-10.

Edinson Cavani is known as being one of the best strikers in world soccer, having been at the top of the game for well over a decade, picking up plenty of trophies and scoring more than 400 career goals along the way.

Having moved to Europe in 2007 to sign for Italian team Palermo, Cavani took no time in adapting to Serie A and in four seasons managed 34 goals in 109 games. Napoli is the club at which the Uruguayan made his name, averaging close to a goal a game.

We will explore how his career has progressed since that point and see why 'El Matador' is viewed in such high regard.

Solo goal

Paris Saint-Germain were building a team made to not only conquer domestically, but were on a mission to win the UEFA Champions League. Helped by the funds of new owner, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who took over in 2011, PSG were fast becoming a force to be reckoned with.

The arrival of Cavani in 2013 for €64million, was preceded by that of Swedish striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Cavani led the PSG attack alongside Ibrahimovic, and although he was seen as the secondary striker, he quickly showed his importance.

In a 4-0 win over Bastia in the league, the attackers showed the rest of the world their individual abilities by netting twice each. Ibrahimovic opened the scoring in a spectacular way, as a deflected cross looped up and he acrobatically backheeled the ball into the goal, despite the defenders' best attempts.

Cavani, who had been named among the substitutes, came on to replace the charismatic Swede and wasted little time in getting on the scoresheet. A superb solo goal, dribbling past Bastia players, before taking the ball around the goalkeeper and netting from an improbable angle, leaving opposition players in his wake.

A goal of such quality highlighted Cavani's dribbling ability as well as his composure in front of goal, which earned him the nickname 'El Matador'.

The first season in France

Cavani experienced success at PSG from the very start of his eight years in France. In total, he won 15 major trophies with the French side. His first silverware came at the end of his first year at the club, the 2013/14 season.

PSG faced one of France's most well-known teams, Lyon, in the final and thanks to Cavani's two strikes, the Parisians were victorious. A poacher's finish on four minutes, in front of a capacity Stade de France crowd, got his team off to a dream start and this was followed by a penalty, his most important goal for the club at the time, and was dispatched by Cavani in typically confident fashion. These two goals also helped him end as the top scorer in the competition that season on four goals.

Back-to-back quadruple

For PSG, the domestic dominance continued and hit its peak in the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons. In both seasons they achieved an incredible feat, winning all four domestic trophies available and Cavani was a pivotal part of the story.

Having already secured the Ligue 1 title and Coupe de la Ligue for the 2014/15 season, PSG turned their attention to the Coupe de France final, where they would face Ligue 2 club Auxerre. In a tough battle, PSG eventually came out on top, winning 1-0 courtesy of a Cavani header. A thunderous second-half headed effort that shook the crossbar was the difference, and to Cavani and his team-mates' relief, had bounced over the line.

Mass celebrations followed the final whistle, as PSG completed a historic quadruple that had never been done before. The next year Paris Saint-Germain replicated the quadruple, winning eight trophies in just two seasons and proving why they deserved to be considered among Europe's elite.

Ligue 1 Player of the Year

Uruguay's second-top scorer of all time helped his club, PSG, in the 2016/17 season by scoring 35 goals in 36 league appearances. Clearly, Cavani was at the peak of his form. He even managed his first four-goal haul of his career that season, against Caen in a 6-0 demolition. Cavani demonstrated his deadly instinct in front of goal and every goal was a first-time strike from inside the penalty area.

Performances like this throughout the season helped him not only win the individual accolade of Ligue 1 Top Scorer, but secured him a place in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year and he was named the Ligue 1 Player of the Year for 2016/17.

PSG's greatest goalscorer

Cavani holds a commemorative trophy aloft after becoming PSG's record goalscorer
Cavani holds a commemorative trophy aloft after becoming PSG's record goalscorer

In 2018, the six-foot striker broke the club's record of most goals scored, surpassing former team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic's tally of 156 goals. The record-breaking goal came in a 4-0 win over Montpellier. Considering Cavani had only been at the club since 2013, it makes the record even more eye-catching. Before leaving in 2020, the striker would go on to score 200 total goals in his PSG career.

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Prior to the 2017/18 season, Cavani was joined in attack by Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. During the season, Cavani helped himself to 41 goals in all competitions, with Neymar providing 27 and Mbappe adding 19, for a combined tally of 87 goals. The trio helped Paris Saint-Germain win all the domestic competitions and were justifiably likened to Barcelona's formidable front line from a couple of years before, containing Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

Cavani and Luis Suarez were born in the same place in Uruguay, called Salto and less than a month separates them in age. This closeness is replicated on the pitch by the gifted duo and has resulted in over 100 goals for their country between them. These two strikers lead their national team's front line with their hearts on their sleeve, showing passion and enthusiasm, reflecting the attitudes of the Uruguayan public.

Both deadly in front of goal, Uruguay have enjoyed success since these players formed a partnership. Uruguay have shown their ability not only in the Copa America, which they won in 2011, but on the biggest stage of all, the FIFA World Cup.

An example of their incredible understanding was evident in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, against Portugal. In the round-of-16 clash, Cavani received the ball wide on the right-hand side and immediately looked to switch the ball to the other flank, where his strike partner Suarez had also found space on the touchline. As Suarez controlled the ball and readied himself to deliver, Cavani made a run towards the penalty box and with pinpoint accuracy met the cross with a devastating header from six yards out.

Turning red

Upon the expiry of their PSG contracts in the summer of 2020, both Cavani and Thiago Silva, who were loyal servants to the club, moved on to pastures new in England. Silva joined Chelsea and Cavani made the switch to Manchester United on a one-year contract.

There was plenty of debate around the signing with many people questioning if he could transition and adapt to the demands of the Premier League. After a couple of weeks getting up to speed, Cavani already looks like a shrewd acquisition for Manchester United, with his instinct for goal poaching, something the team have been missing in recent seasons.

His first goal in England came in a 3-1 away win against Everton, in added time at the end of the game. His manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was extremely happy with the Uruguayan getting off the mark for his new club with a typically composed shot on the counter-attack. Now that Cavani has continued his scoring since that match, he will be hungry for more goals in the red of Manchester United.

Manchester United main man

As the season drew to a close, Cavani became more and more influential in the Manchester United side and helped them to a second-placed finish in the Premier League, albeit 12 points behind champions Manchester City.

He scored two goals in each leg of the Europa League semi-final to help United earn an 8-5 aggregate win over Roma. That booked a place in the final against Villarreal - and once again he proved to be the main man for the big occasion, scoring the equaliser after Gerard Moreno had broken the deadlock on 29 minutes.

Cavani couldn't find the winner in the rest of normal time or extra time - but he kept his composure to slot home his spot-kick in the penalty to make it 5-5 in a thrilling shoot-out.

It was Villarreal who were celebrating winning their first major European trophy, though, after David de Gea's missed spot-kick handed them a breathtaking 11-10 win over Cavani's Red Devils.

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