As the players of Manchester United boarded their plane at Southampton airport, the mood was full of levity and good humour.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team had come away with a dramatic 3-2 victory against Southampton, from two goals down, in the sequence of away wins that has helped United move up the Premier League table. Edinson Cavani had scored the winner in the second minute of stoppage time. He also scored the equaliser after coming on at half-time. Life was good as Cavani settled down for the short flight to Manchester. His hair was still damp from the post-match shower. His headphones were in, scrolling through the congratulatory messages on his phone.

Cavani had no idea, 24,000 feet up, about the storm that was brewing on social media. He did not know that journalists had started ringing the club. He had not thought for one moment that the last message he posted on Instagram, directed to a friend called Pablo Fernandez, would end in a three-match ban and…



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