Daniel Taylor of The Guardian reported as far back as April that Manchester United were interested in securing the "marquee" signing of PSG's Edinson Cavani following reports that the Uruguayan forward had become disillusioned with life in the French capital.
Speculation has continued since then, with the Daily Mail's Anthony Hay this week pointing out how Cavani had not been included in a poster advertising Paris Saint-Germain's new away kit. However, Manchester United supporters on the whole remain largely unsure about the possibility of signing Cavani—and with good reason.
Manchester United's squad has been described as "broken" by Louis van Gaal. Coming from an acclaimed manager who has won as many titles as Van Gaal, these words should not be taken lightly.
Of course the Manchester United squad has problems, they were evident last season and to a much lesser degree the campaign prior to that. However, these problems are not in the forward department.
With Louis van Gaal likely to use either his current 3-5-2 system or his historically preferred 4-3-3, there is not a great deal of room to manoeuvre in terms of how many strikers you can fit into the squad.
It is fairly safe to assume that Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney will immediately take the two starting spots, while Danny Welbeck will be the third choice with the future of Javier Hernandez still in the balance following significant interest from both Internazionale and Atletico Madrid, reported by the Press Association via The Guardian.
With United not having continental football of any description next season there is even less of a need to have a bloated squad, and with players such as Wilfried Zaha able to play as a centre-forward in a 3-5-2 system, the three natural forwards left—should Hernandez leave the club—would be more than sufficient for a year.
With this in mind it is difficult to see, in purely footballing terms, where Cavani would fit in at Old Trafford. There is absolutely no doubt he is a world-class centre-forward, his goal record of 16 goals in 29 Ligue 1 appearances (provided by WhoScored.com) while being deployed in an unfamiliar position on the wing shows just how efficient the Salto-born striker is at finding the back of the net.
However, Manchester United have Rooney and Van Persie, both on monumental contracts, to think about. Adding another world-class element to that forward line means somebody has to drop out on a regular basis. Manchester United, in simple financial terms, with Financial Fair Play beginning to bite, cannot afford to have one of their top-three earners at the club not playing week in and week out, fitness permitting.
Some will put forward the argument that Cavani could play in a wide position in a 4-3-3 in order to accommodate a trio of Rooney, Van Persie and himself. In theory this could work, but in a more physically demanding league, being played out of position is highlighted more often. It would also mean playing in a position that—according to Bleacher Report's Jonathan Johnson—is what has sparked Cavani's wave of unhappiness at the Parc des Princes.
Cavani: "My position? We had some small problems with that & I wanted to deal with it. But I feel good about it now. No longer an issue."— Jonathan Johnson (@Jon_LeGossip) July 31, 2014
Moving back to Financial Fair Play, it is clear teams are taking the conditions seriously—maybe not every team, but the vast majority of teams are looking to balance the books. Chelsea's spending being funded by player sales this summer a prime example.
Manchester United are in a very fortuitous position in that the club's commercial revenue is staggering.
This gives the club greater scope for spending on transfers, and Ed Woodward's words to MUTV, via ManUtd.com, suggesting the club would be willing to break transfer records aren't too far removed from the truth, despite fans seeing no real evidence of this as yet:
We’ve been working with Louis [van Gaal] over several weeks with regards to targets and we’re continuing to move forward on some of those targets.
We are willing to invest. There is no fixed budget.
Our financial strength allows us to do things in the transfer market that other clubs cannot do.
Despite this, United still need to be careful with their net spend this summer. A problem the club has is that many of the team's current assets don't have a great sale value for one reason or another. There are no players at United who could bring in the funds that Chelsea's sale of David Luiz and Romelu Lukaku has.
There are far more pressing areas of concern within the United squad, and spending upwards of £50 million on Edinson Cavani before addressing these needs would be hazardous to the development of the squad.
United need to return to the Champions League at the first opportunity. We have seen through the Associated Press' Rob Harris report that the recently announced sponsorship deal with Adidas will not be anywhere near as profitable unless United return to European football's top table.
To do this United need to improve both the defence and midfield. Ander Herrera has looked a revelation during pre-season. It is rare you see a player who immediately takes to being a Manchester United—player both on and off the pitch—but all the indications are there that this will be the case with the former Athletic midfielder.
He does however need a world-class partner alongside him. Both Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley are good footballers who are technically proficient enough to fit into a Van Gaal team. They are not, however, at the level required to start for United regularly.
Michael Carrick's fitness is a worry, with the 33-year-old out until at least October, meaning the midfield is once again looking slightly bereft of quality.
Defensively, United have lost the experience and quality of Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Rio Ferdinand. These three players need replacing to a degree. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling should now find more regular football in their preferred central position, which is a boost. However, there may need to be an addition of defensive know-how and experience brought in, with Thomas Vermaelen fitting the bill perfectly.
You cannot build a successful title challenge without a solid base. United need to address the defensive and midfield areas before thinking of adding to their already quality attacking line-up. Furthermore, Van Gaal has done what David Moyes failed to do in the second half of last season: found a way of accommodating both Juan Mata and Rooney in their best positions.
A potential addition of Cavani would also disrupt this new-found harmony and possibly cause United more issues down the line.
The promise of the cliched marquee signing is something supporters of all clubs are excited by. Ed Woodward gives the impression he desperately wants to bring such a signing to Old Trafford. Edinson Cavani would be, financially speaking, a marquee signing. However, he wouldn't enthuse United supporters as much as Arturo Vidal or Angel Di Maria.
This is because those two would both be marquee signings who would simultaneously be vital additions to the balance and overall quality in key areas of the team.
Manchester United supporters have become increasingly frustrated over recent seasons at the club's seeming unwillingness to address the issues at the heart of midfield.
With United arguably just one top player short in that position, as well as an additional defender away from mounting a serious title challenge under Van Gaal, supporters are understandably wary of signing an unneeded forward instead of addressing more pressing concerns.