Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has backed deadline day signings Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles to make a significant impact at Old Trafford, even suggesting the latter has the potential to be for United what Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are for Liverpool.
United drew plenty of deserved criticism for a summer transfer window that appeared to descend into desperation when the club finally gave up on a shambolic approach to trying to sign Jadon Sancho, completing as many as four deals in the final hours before the deadline.
Cavani, unattached since leaving Paris Saint-Germain in June, and Telles, bought from Porto for a fee potentially rising to £15.4m, were among them. Yet despite the nature of their respective arrivals – missing out on pre-season even though both were available at the start of summer – each could yet prove to be a shrewd acquisition and Giggs believes that to be the case.
At 33, Cavani won’t be more than a short-term stop gap for United, but the Uruguayan comes with a stellar reputation after averaging 30 goals per season at club level over the last 10 years. What’s more, Giggs expects him to be something different to United’s existing options.
“I faced Cavani in my second game for Wales and he was better than Luis Suarez. He was a real handful,” Giggs said while a guest on Webby & O’Neill.
“He hasn't played for a long time so he might be a little bit rusty, but you're getting a proper centre forward who can lead the line, which a lot of fans have been crying out for.”
Cavani is more of traditional ‘number nine’ than either Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial, both of whom will cover a much greater area of the pitch and drift all across the front. Giggs has even suggested he could be a catalyst for the team as a whole, like Bruno Fernandes last season.
“Cavani is a forward, a target man. He's got the experience. I'm hoping, just like Bruno has, he will make the players around him even better,” Giggs mused.
With Martial suspended and a few more days of invaluable training under his belt, there is a possibility Cavani could make his United debut during Saturday night’s clash with Chelsea.
His relationship with Telles could be huge for United this season. The Brazilian left-back made an impressive debut in Tuesday’s Champions League win against Paris Saint-Germain, showing bits and pieces of the ability to get forward that his reputation has been built on.
Telles recorded 13 assists for Porto in all competitions last season, one more than Robertson managed for Liverpool and only two fewer than Alexander-Arnold.
“Telles, I think that’s something we’ve been missing,” Giggs said.
“You look at Liverpool, Trent and Robertson - the goals and assists that they provide. Now, full-backs have to have that in their armour. If the wingers are coming in, the full-backs have to create the width and make goals.”