Manchester United vs Villarreal: Edinson Cavani wants to prove Unai Emery wrong in the Europa League final

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Edinson Cavani has been full of praise for his longtime manager Unai Emery, but DON’T let that fool you … there are still scars from their PSG rift and the Europa League final gives the United star a chance to prove that the Villarreal boss was wrong for being shy about him

  • Edinson Cavani takes on his old boss Unai Emery in the Europa League final
  • Pair was together at PSG, but dropped out when Emery preferred Neymar and Mbappé
  • Cavani has been full of praise for the now-Villarreal boss this week, but don’t be fooled
  • He would love to prove himself on the big stage and shoot United to victory

Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani went on the charm offensive when asked about his former manager Unai Emery this week.

‘He is a hardworking coach. I really liked his way of working, ” said the celebrated striker ahead of Wednesday night’s Europa League final between United and Emery’s Villarreal.

Supporters of Paris Saint-Germain will not be fooled. The pair had an uneasy relationship in Paris at a time when Cavani lost his top dog status with the arrival of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé.

Edinson Cavani (left) fell out with Unai Emery while the pair were in Paris Saint-Germain

Emery (center) supported the signing of Neymar (right), who shunned club legend Cavani

Emery (center) supported the signing of Neymar (right), who shunned club legend Cavani

One of Emery’s perceived weaknesses is dealing with big stars, he has been more successful at Sevilla and Villarreal than at PSG or Arsenal, and the flash point in Paris came during a saga where Cavani lost penalties to Neymar against his will.

Throughout the episode – which became a hot topic in 2017 and 2018 – Emery was ineffective in bringing about harmony. “The hierarchy of penalty kicks is clear, but I’d rather not talk about it,” he said.

On another occasion, he claimed it should be a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the two players on the field to sort out, but privately, Cavani felt the manager was in Neymar’s corner.

It became a problem in September 2017 when PSG were awarded a penalty in a 2-0 win against Lyon. Cavani had already converted three penalties that season and was approaching Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s record as the club’s all-time top scorer.

Scars remain from the punishment bias, in which Neymar (left) took over from Cavani

Scars remain from the punishment bias, in which Neymar (left) took over from Cavani

Neymar arrived for a world record fee and Emery felt pressured to appease the owners

Neymar arrived for a world record fee and Emery felt pressured to appease the owners

He picked up the ball, put it on the dot and was about to go through his routine when Neymar went up to him and tried to claim responsibility. Cavani got distracted and missed the penalty. He held Emery responsible for not supporting him afterwards.

‘He (Emery) was the culprit at the time – it’s something that needs to be made clear,’ explains Cavani.

‘I said to Neymar,’ I’m the one who takes penalties, ‘and there was an altercation. Then I told him what I thought in the dressing room.

Then Emery said Ney would take penalties and I asked him why. I said we agreed the year before (Cavani would be the penalty taker). He said I was going against him. ‘

Cavani is now flying high at Manchester United and can prove his worth to Emery tonight

Cavani is now flying high at Manchester United and can prove his worth to Emery tonight

Emery is heading for his fifth Europa League final, this time in his first season with Villarreal

Emery is heading for his fifth Europa League final, this time in his first season with Villarreal

The reality was that PSG’s Qatari owners had invested heavily in Neymar and Kylian Mbappé and Emery was unable to cope with Cavani’s pain when he was demoted in the pecking order.

His form remained good and in 2017-18 he was the club’s top scorer with 27 when they faced Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals. Madrid won the first leg 2-1 in Paris, but PSG kept the Spaniards 1-1 at the Bernabeu with half an hour to go when Emery Cavani surprisingly replaced a defender, Thomas Meunier.

The thought was to make PSG firmer to give Neymar and Mbappé the chance to shine. There was no room for Cavani in the equation.

Cavani spoke to the media this week and praised Emery despite their dropout

Cavani spoke to the media this week and praised Emery despite their dropout

Cavani is training in Gdansk prior to the game, where he will play an important role for United

Cavani is training in Gdansk prior to the game, where he will play an important role for United

The plan failed badly. Real won the game 3-1 to advance a total of 5-2. Two months later, Emery announced he was leaving, unable to cope with the big egos.

Both men have since found success outside of Paris. After a scorching time at Arsenal, Emery has restored his reputation by taking Villarreal to a European final.

At the age of 34, Cavani is a revelation at Old Trafford. He has scored 16 goals in 38 games this season and has acted as a key mentor to Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.

His split with Emery happened some time ago but left scars. You know Cavani would love to wave a winner’s medal at the expense of the Spaniard in Gdansk.

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