Edinson Cavani's Man Utd squad omission explained as Cristiano Ronaldo makes debut
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has plenty of attackers to choose from now that Ronaldo is back at Old Trafford, and he selected the Portuguese striker from the off against Newcastle with Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood completing the front three.
With Marcus Rashford out injured until at least next month, that left Anthony Martial deputising on the bench if needed, but there was no spot for Cavani.
However, despite question marks over where the Uruguayan will fit in now that Ronaldo is around, Solskjaer revealed it was actually a fitness problem which kept Cavani out of contention.
“He’s still not ready,” Solskjaer said before the match, via United's official website. "He got a little knock in training, so hopefully won’t be too long."
The 34-year-old was hardly missed on an afternoon where United fans flocked to catch a glimpse of Ronaldo back in their colours.
"We’re excited, we can feel the atmosphere in the place, everyone’s been happy," Solskjaer said.
"There’s here’s a buzz about the place. That’s how it should be around Man. United. Cristiano’s had a fantastic career and he’s coming in to help the team, he’s not come to show off himself and try to give us that extra edge.
"He’s ready, he’s focused, professional as always and meticulous in everything he does. You look at him and what he’s achieved in his career. He wants to prove to him and not just me what he can do."
Ronaldo's appearance in the team broke a Premier League record as his return to the division for the first time in 12 years and 118 days beat that of ex-Crystal Palace defender Damien Delaney, who had a gap of 11 years 155 days between 2002 and 2013 (via Opta Joe).
Shirt sales have gone through the roof since his comeback was announced too, raking millions in for United in commission from their kit deal with Adidas.
Cavani was kind enough to give up his No.7 shirt so Ronaldo could have his old number back, once the club received special dispensation from the Premier League for him to do so.
The pair even had a phone call where Cavani gave his blessing to pass up the iconic shirt, which Ronaldo originally inherited from David Beckham.
"It's one of these things that Edinson has been remarkable, played really well last season, Cristiano speaks with Edinson, to pass up his shirt shows the respect he's got for Cristiano and respect the other way," said Solskjaer on Friday.
"Two top pros, players, and human beings."
Cavani looked like he could leave United prior to the transfer deadline with Barcelona linked with his signature.
But he has remained at the club for the time being, with his contract not up until the end of the season, while Solskjaer insists he has a part to play this season, despite Ronaldo's presence.