Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Edinson Cavani showed why the club wants to keep him at Old Trafford after leading the Red Devils into the Europa League final.
Cavani scored twice in a 3-2 second-leg loss away to Roma on Thursday, but United still reached the tournament decider 8-5 on aggregate.
United star Cavani, who is out of contract at the end of the season following his arrival ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, found the back of the net in either half to ensure the Premier League giants reached their first final under Solskjaer.
After his opening-leg brace, Cavani became the first player to score two or more goals in both legs of a two-legged semi-final in a major European competition since Klaus Allofs for Cologne in the 1985-86 UEFA Cup.
The 34-year-old Uruguay forward – linked with Boca Juniors – has scored 16 goals in his past 15 Europa League appearances, including 15 in his last 10 starts in the competition, while only against Monaco (15) has Cavani scored more goals in all competitions in his European career than Roma (13).
As United try to convince Cavani to prolong his stay in Manchester, Solskjaer hailed Paris Saint-Germain’s all-time leading scorer.
“Edinson showed again why we want to keep him at Old Trafford,” Solskjaer told reporters as United look ahead to a May 26 showdown against Villarreal.
“Football has its own language. I think Edinson has proven tonight, in the previous game, throughout his career, what a centre-forward should be doing, both on and off the ball.
“Both preparing for games and recovering from games, he’s an absolute top professional, and everyone can learn from him. Everyone in my team.”
United won the opening leg 6-2 in Manchester, but they were far from their best against Roma in the Italian capital.
Edin Dzeko and Bryan Cristante were on target for Roma on Thursday, while Nicola Zalewski’s late strike deflected in off Alex Telles to earn the Italian side a victory on the day.
A stunning comeback could have been on the cards if not for United goalkeeper David de Gea, who made 10 saves in total to thwart rallying Roma.
De Gea has lost his starting position to Dean Henderson in the Premier League amid uncertainty over his future, but Solskjaer added: “David was vital. He was man of the match for me, the standout performer.
“The final’s still three weeks away. We’ve got many games, but David put a very good application in, of course, with his performance. The proof is always on the pitch. You’ve got to perform and you keep your place in the team when you play well.”