Ralf Rangnick insists Edinson Cavani will not be leaving Manchester United in January

Interim manager calls striker 'a highly important player' for club who is very much part of his plans for rest of season

Manchester United attacker Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring in the Premier League draw at Newcastle United on December 27, 2021. EPA

Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick has insisted that striker Edinson Cavani will not be leaving the club this month.

The Uruguayan has scored 19 goals in 49 appearances for the Red Devils since joining on a free transfer in October 2020, although his spell in England has been hampered by injury problems.

Cavani agreed a one-year extension after looking all set to leave Old Trafford last summer but he has recently been linked with a January move to La Liga giants Barcelona.

But Rangnick, speaking ahead of United's Premier League game at home to Wolves on Monday, made it clear Cavani is very much in his plans. “We had quite a few conversations in the last couple of weeks — probably the player with whom I have spoken most,” said the German coach.

“I told him from the very first day that, for me, 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 just amazing and I told him that I desperately want him to stay until the end of the season. He knows that.

“He also knows how highly I rate him and how highly I respect him, and that was also the reason why I played him [in the 3-1 win against Burnley] from the beginning together with Cristiano [Ronaldo].

“I will definitely not let him go. For me, he is a highly important player for the rest of the season, still playing in three competitions, so we will definitely need Edi.

“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, yes, our squad is maybe a little bit too big with regards to numbers.

“But we still have Covid, we have three competitions, as I said, and I think we could do with a bigger squad than maybe in times without Covid.”

Anthony Martial is one of United's attacking options who looks set to leave in January with Sevilla reportedly close to agreeing a loan deal for the French international.

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Martial has expressed his desire to leave United and Rangnick has left the forward out of recent squads. “He made it very clear that he wants to leave and, in a way, I can understand his wish to leave and to try to play more regularly somewhere else,” Rangnick said.

“But, again, it’s a question not only of what he wants to do but it’s also a question of which kind of clubs are interested in him and do they meet the demands of the club, so we have to wait and see.

Dean Henderson, Donny van de Beek, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard could also move on in search of more first-team action, while injured midfielder Paul Pogba is entering the final months of his contract.

Rangnick said of Dutch international Van de Beek: “So far as I have got to know him he’s got a top mentality, he works hard in every training session.

“He’s a team player through and through and there will be games where he will get his chance to play I’m sure.

“I also had a longer conversation with him last week about that and, again, of course it’s difficult for him right now because he also wants to play for the Dutch national team.

“He wants to qualify for himself and play in the World Cup in Qatar and in order to do that he needs to get game time here.

“But I still believe that we should keep him, that he should stay here, definitely until the end of this season and try to get as much game time as he possibly can.”

Updated: January 2nd 2022, 2:45 PM