Ole Gunnar Solskjaer backs Edinson Cavani to be on his game against PSG

Manchester United v Istanbul Basaksehir – UEFA Champions League – Group H – Old Trafford
Manchester United v Istanbul Basaksehir – UEFA Champions League – Group H – Old Trafford (PA Wire)
4:30am, Wed 02 Dec 2020
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Edinson Cavani is ready to face former club Paris St Germain in the Champions League amid a Football Association investigation into a social media post by the Manchester United striker.

The 33-year-old summer signing produced a match-winning display at Southampton on Sunday, providing an assist for Bruno Fernandes before scoring twice in a stunning 3-2 comeback win.

Cavani posted a social media message on Instagram shortly after the match, replying to a message of congratulations using the Spanish term ‘negrito’, which translates as ‘black’.

The post was swiftly deleted after he was made aware of the connotations, with the player releasing an apologetic statement the following day saying he was “completely opposed to racism”.

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The FA has been in contact following the incident that sees Cavani facing a potential three-game ban, which is the minimum for racist and discriminatory language and behaviour offences on social media.

“Of course we’ve communicated with Edinson and he’s really, deeply sorry for the mistake he’s made,” Solskjaer said ahead of Wednesday’s Group H clash against PSG.

“There was no malicious intent at all. It was just an affectionate greeting to a friend of his.

“But we explained to him, he’s been asked by the FA to explain, so of course he’ll cooperate with them and we’ll support him.

Edinson Cavani inspired United to victory at St Mary's on Sunday (PA Wire)

“I think it is one of those unfortunate situations that he’s just come into the country and in Uruguay it’s been used in a different affection than what we have.

“We’ll support him but of course we support the FA. It’s important that 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.”

Put to Solskjaer that the incident underlines the need for education across the board, the United boss added: “I think so.

“I saw Gary (Neville) said something on maybe all the players coming from different cultures should be educated and I’m sure Edinson has learnt the hard way.”

Edinson Cavani scored 200 goals in 301 games for PSG between 2013 and 2020 (PA Archive)

Solskjaer is confident Cavani will not be distracted by the cloud hanging over him, especially with PSG’s all-time top scorer coming up against his former club.

“Edinson is ready to play,” Solskjaer said, with United only needing a point to progress to the knockout phase.

“Of course it’s special for him to play against PSG, his old club where he’s the top scorer, so that’ll affect him mentally.

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“But from knowing him, I know that’ll give him energy and he’ll be ready.

“He’s so professional, experienced. Of course he will work on his mindset (on Tuesday and Wednesday) to be ready for the game.

“He’s learnt a lesson and 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 then perform when they have to.”

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