EDINSON CAVANI has led the best defenders in Europe a merry dance for well over a decade but he has a secret weapon helping him flourish at Manchester United – he takes BALLET lessons.
The Uruguayan hitman has netted seven goals for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men this season at the age of 34 and has his unusual hobby to thank for increasing his mobility and strength in his veteran years.
He joined up with the Ballet Nacional de Sodre in Uruguay after being released by PSG last year, with the gruelling routines providing the strength and stamina training he was lacking.
With Cavani out of United’s Europa League clash with Real Sociedad on Thursday night, Chelsea may be the next Premier League rivals to feel the force of his twinkle toes.
The Blues take on United on Sunday, and although Cavani has been out with injury he could be in line for a return.
And though fans may have been surprised to see one of Europe’s most renowned hitmen decked out in lycra and gracefully plie-ing his way across the stage, it may well be the secret behind his Indian summer in the Prem.
Indeed, in the 3-2 win over Southampton earlier in the season, Cavani scored to make it tutu!
Top ballet physiotherapist Luke Abnett believes the dancers are far sturdier than football fans may give them credit for and believes Cavani’s success is partly down to his new passion.
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He told the Irish Times: "Pound for pound, ballet dancers are the strongest athletes you will find.
"In ballet, there’s a need to not only have strength of movement but precision of movement. It’s a combination of the strong movement muscles with the fine-tuning stability muscles.
"When you get to more advanced levels of ballet skills, you’re working on jumping, turning, pirouettes, control and rotation.
"Landing in interesting positions and transferring your weight as you move into the next step – all of that would apply to situations like that."
With the discipline also beneficial in reducing muscle injuries, Cavani’s silky-smooth transition to the cut and thrust of the Premier League has even got fans wishing more stars would trade their boots for ballet shoes.
One Red Devils supporter told the Irish Times: "Cavani’s spatial awareness and manoeuvrings are so incredible, it has me wishing he’d make ballet a thing in the United dressing room."
Cavani has used his new skills to lead by example at Old Trafford – with manager Solskjaer praising his influence on his younger team-mates and likening him to Teddy Sheringham from his own playing days at Old Trafford.
He said last month: "Teddy came in 1997 with his experience and I learnt a lot from him. I think he [Cavani] has come in and almost been a similar type of influence,'
"We were young strikers learning off Teddy, now Cavani has Mason, Marcus and Anthony learning off him. Edinson has been a great addition.'
Cavani has indicated he wants to be strutting his stuff for United for some time to come but the club are yet to trigger the one-year extension to the contract he signed in October despite Solskajer insisting talks will happen.
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