Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits Edinson Cavani could be affected by the Football Association’s probe into an Instagram post he deleted but insists the Manchester United striker is ready to play against former club Paris Saint-Germain.
Cavani scored twice and assisted Bruno Fernandes in United’s 3-2 comeback win at Southampton and after the game shared a post from a friend on an Instagram Story, adding ‘Gracías negrito’.
The literal translation of ‘gracías negrito’ is ‘thanks black’ but Cavani was replying to a friend who wrote: “Asi te quiero, Matador.” That translates as: “I love you like this, Matador.” Cavani is nicknamed ‘El Matador’.
Once Cavani was informed the post could be interpreted offensively out of context, he deleted the Story but the FA have asked him to explain his social media activity, which Solskjaer supports.
“We’ve communicated with Edinson and he’s really deeply sorry for the mistake he’s made. There was no malicious intent at all, it was just an affectionate greeting to a friend of his,” Solskjaer said.
“But we explained to him. He’s been asked by the FA to explain and, of course, he’ll cooperate with them, and we’ll support him. It’s an unfortunate situation where he’s just come into the country, in Uruguay it’s used in a different affection to what we have.
“So we’ll support him and, of course, we support the FA. It’s important the FA have asked him to explain and it’s out there for everyone to see because we want to be in the fight against discrimination with everyone. I saw Gary [Neville] said something on all players coming from different cultures should be educated and Edinson has learnt the hard way.
“Edinson is ready to play. Of course, it’s special for him to play against PSG, his own club where he’s the top scorer, so that’ll affect him mentally.
“But, from knowing him, I know that’ll give him energy and he’ll be ready. He’s so professional, experienced, he will work on his mindset today and tomorrow to be ready for the game, which goes the same to the FA.
“He’s learnt a lesson, it might affect him but he’ll just have to put it to one side when the game’s on. The best players can put their problems or the other thoughts away for a while and perform when he has to.
“He’s an absolutely top professional. I’ve not been able to get to know him really, really closely because of the language barrier, so we have to speak through someone else. He’s so professional, so meticulous. Everything he does he does with the intention of being the best footballer he can be. He’s a very good teammate, a team player.
“I’ve been impressed by his attention to detail with everything – apart from his parking! He’s parking too close to some of the players and coaching staff at times. He’s already learnt two English words: ‘tomorrow off’. He knows that one!”
Solskjaer likened Cavani to a viking on the eve of United’s Champions League round-of-16 tie with PSG in 2019 and was reminded of the quote as the Uruguayan prepares to face the club he spent six years at.
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“We never give in, us vikings! We’ve got the right attitude, right mentality,” Solskjaer boasted. “That was maybe not fair to Edinson but it was a compliment because I always look at players’ mentality and ability to play and do well even though you don’t have a perfect day.
“You know he’s got talent, I could’ve spoken about predatory instincts as a striker, his movement, but what I saw from him was ability to work for the team and to be a team player and we’ve already seen it here from the work-rate he puts down.
“He’s at the top of the tree for running stats in the Premier League and he’s 33 years of age, which just says everything about his mentality.”