Despite reports of interest from Barcelona, Ralf Rangnick has assured Edinson Cavani that he “desperately” wants the striker to stay at Manchester United and will not allow him to leave in January.

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Cavani’s future is uncertain following Cristiano Ronaldo’s summer arrival. The Portuguese striker is United’s top scorer with 14 goals, the most recent of which came in a 3-1 win over Burnley on Thursday.

Injury and having to quarantine for Covid have also impacted Cavani’s season. The Uruguayan has made ten appearances for the club, with his start against Burnley being his first in the Premier League since October 30.

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Rangnick said, “We had a few conversations in the last couple of weeks – probably the player with whom I have spoken most. I told him from the first day that he is a highly important player. He is probably the only one who can play as a striker back to goal and face to goal.”

“His professionalism, his work ethic is amazing and I told him that I desperately want him to stay until the end of the season. He also knows how highly I rate him and respect him, and that was also the reason why I played him from the beginning together with Cristiano [against Burnley],” he added.

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The German-born manager further elaborated, “He knows that I will definitely not let him go. I would rather have another Edi on top of that but for me it’s clear that Edi has to stay. With regard to the other players [leaving in the transfer window], yes, our squad is maybe a bit big with regards to numbers but we still have Covid, we have three competitions.”

Despite only making two league starts in 2021, Rangnick wants Donny van de Beek to stay. “He’s got a top mentality, works hard in every training session,” the interim boss remarked. 

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“A team player through and through and there will be games where he will get his chance. I also had a longer conversation with him about that and of course it’s difficult for him right now because he also wants to play for the national team. But I still believe that we should keep him, definitely until the end of this season,” he said.

Rangnick believes Ronaldo can start a third game in eight days when United hosts Wolves on Monday night. Concluding, he said, “I didn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be able to play another game,” he said.