Football Features

Ranking: Every Man Utd contract renewal under Solskjaer from key business to disaster-in-waiting

By James Richards

Published: 13:12, 9 July 2019

They say a manager is only as good as his transfer business and that is true to a point, but he must also be rated on how he deals with the squad he inherits.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is busy sorting out the mess he was thrown into at Old Trafford and part of that process has been getting the players who he wants to stay at the club to sign new deals.

Getting the right length and value is going to be key to United’s recruitment plan and budget ahead of the new season so we have ranked, from worst to best, each contract renewal signed during Solskjaer’s tenure. Have a read to see how his powers of persuasion have fared thus far:

8. Phil Jones

Age: 27

Length of new deal: Four and a half years with one year option (initially until 2023)

The reaction of the fans to this one says it all. Signing Phil Jones to a new long-term deal went down like a 2018/19 Fulham and is an odd decision, to say the least.

Jones has not played well enough or consistently enough for a number of seasons and his limitations are clear for all to see. The 27-year-old is, however, in his prime and this can be looked at through two lenses.

Firstly, United might have missed out on a decent transfer fee given the Englishman’s age and also could have got his sizeable wages off the bill but with so few options at the back, Solskjaer probably thought better of it.

The second way to look at this is that United have signed a centre-back to a new deal that will mean his contract is up when Jones hits his early 30s. This offers them little risk that his decline will set in when he still has a long time to run on his deal.

7. Juan Mata

Age: 31

Length of new deal: Two years with one year option (initially until 2021)

Mata’s influence off the pitch makes this deal seem reasonable but perhaps not inspiring as the Spaniard only had three goals and two assists last season for the Red Devils.

With the transfer fees United are being quoted to bring in new players at such ridiculously high levels, this money could have been funnelled elsewhere. United will look back on this window with yet more regret if they fail to improve their creativity going forward.

Also, signing a 31-year-old who only managed 16 starts last season could block the chances of a younger player getting more minutes.  Weighing up whether his experience is more important than his wage outlay is the factor to consider and Solskjaer went with the former.

6. Ashley Young

Age: 34

Length of new deal: One year (until 2020)

Ashley Young may have been an important player at the World Cup for England last summer but he is clearly in decline. Therefore, signing him to a new deal, albeit one that is short term, is probably not worth it.

United are trying to return to the elite echelons of the top four and need a squad worthy of achieving this. Young just doesn’t feel like the kind of player able to help them get better.

5. Axel Tuanzebe

Age: 21

Length of new deal: Three years plus one year option (initially until 2022)

This deal feels more like United are protecting a sellable asset rather than keeping a player who has realistic first-team ambitions.

His loan at Championship outfit Aston Villa last season was a success and the Birmingham club are reportedly looking to re-sign him on loan ahead of the new campaign.

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Upon getting the deal done, Solskjaer praised the player’s attitude and at 21-year-old there is still a chance he can get to the levels United require of their first-team defenders.

“Axel is a great example of the type of player that has come through the Manchester United system. He is humble, hard-working, talented and a team player,” Solskjaer said.

“He had a successful time on loan with Aston Villa and has gained a lot of experience from that spell, which ended in promotion to the Premier League.”

If Axel Tuanzebe does reach his potential, United have a further option in his contract to extend by one more year – sensible stuff.

4. Andreas Pereira

Age: 23

Length of new deal: Four years plus one year option (initially until 2023)

This deal just makes sense for everyone involved as the 23-year-old clearly has a huge amount of talent and will thrive if played in the correct system.

Solskjear needs time to change the way the club were set up to play under Jose Mourinho and a positive start to the Norwegian’s tenure gave way for a disappointing finish to 2018/19.

Andreas Pereira has time on his side and can play anywhere across the front line. This versatility is going to be vital for United when competing for trophies on more than one front and also is a manager’s dream when it comes to tactical flexibility.

Again the club have the option of one more year should the Brazilian attacker indeed thrive at Old Trafford.

3. Scott McTominay

Age: 22

Length of new deal: Four years plus one year option (initially until 2023)

The Scottish midfielder is another player on this list that is the perfect age to protect and develop. United need to start thinking about how they build a quality midfield for the future and, hopefully, Scott McTominay will be a big part of that planning.

He looked good in the brief appearances he made last season, clearly needing more time to develop his game but this contract allows just that. Like many of the other deals, United have a further option of a year should they see the player become a key member of the team giving the club some wiggle room.

This is a good move by Solskjaer and one which could be seen as an excellent piece of business over the coming seasons.

2. Anthony Martial

Age: 23

Length of new deal: Five years (until 2024)

Anthony Martial is a very talented player and United have done exactly the right thing by getting the Frenchman to sign a new long-term deal.

He is 23, approaching his prime and would certainly be snapped up by one of Europe’s top clubs if he became available so the Red Devils boss has made sure the club is in an excellent position with this new deal.

10 goals in 18 starts last season is a hugely impressive return and United can now build around Martial and Marcus Rashford up front.

1. Marcus Rashford

Age: 21

Length of new deal: Four years plus one year option (initially until 2023)

If there is one deal that Solskjaer had to get over the line it was a new deal for England star Rashford. The home-grown talent is still, amazingly, only 21 and has already achieved so much.

The fact that he has more than 30 England caps at this stage of his career is truly remarkable and this new deal allows Solskjaer and the player to concentrate on further improvement.

Rashford will also be expecting more first-team chances going forward, which the Norwegian coach should surely grant. His 33 appearances in the top flight last season yielded 10 goals and, considering how he struggled under Mourinho in the early part of the campaign, it was an impressive return.

The fans love him, he loves the club and will now be playing under a club legend who will promote a more progressive style of play that will only help the young England star reach his true potential.

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