Manchester United are in for a summer of massive squad upheaval.
Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Red Devils will be out to rebuild their squad in the wake of missing out on Champions League football. There’s a lot of work to be done and many players currently in the first team have their squad status under review, and Ander Herrera has already confirmed he will leave the club in the summer.
But what of the rest of the squad? Who should Manchester United keep? And sell? And who maybe deserves a loan? Read on!
David de Gea
David de Gea ended the 2017/18 season as the best goalkeeper in the world. He ends this one as the second-best stopper in Manchester and the third-best in the North West of England. Look, it’s been a rough season, and given the Spaniard is stalling over a new deal (that expires in 2020) United might be tempted to sell him for a profit now; that would be a mistake. De Gea is still magnificent and has been so for United over many, many years. Pay the man what he deserves and build from a world-class goalkeeper like all the other elite sides.
Alexis Sánchez should have been the superstar that took the José Mourinho era into overdrive. In the end he turned out to be a white elephant, or an albatross, or a lemon if animal-based analogies aren’t your thing. He’s played terribly and his galactic wages have caused umpteen problems for United renewing other squad members’ deals. He’s still got skill, but he’s poison to United. Get rid.
One of the knock-on effects of Sánchez’s contract is that Marcus Rashford is rightfully reconsidering his place on the United pay grade. It’s likely the club renews their hometown hero rather than cashes in on him, but consider this a confirmation that yes, keeping Rashford is the good and right thing to do. The boy is special.
Romelu Lukaku was meant to be United’s line-leading superstar striker, their answer to Harry Kane and the man to fire them over the top. His first season showed promise with 27 goals, but he only managed 15 in his second term and now with Solskjaer preferring a rapid transition system of play he looks to be the odd man out in attack. With Inter showing interest, United should cash in and use Anthony Martial (or even young Mason Greenwood) as their back-up strikers.
Axel Tuanzebe has been a much-hyped defensive prospect for years now, and this season while on loan at Aston Villa he really strutted his stuff. He was such a key part of Villa’s promotion push that one could see him taking a place in the United back-line under Solskjaer, but given the two back-up roles have been secured and United are seeking a world-class partner for Victor Lindelof, it would be better if the youngster went back on loan to get a full season of experience in the Premier League.
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Eric Bailly should have been the next big thing at Manchester United. Here was a rugged defender with every athletic and technical gift you could want as well as an incredible instinct for well-timed interventions. But then Mourinho went to work on Bailly’s confidence and he’s never been the same, now every time he plays it looks like he’s about to make a mistake – and sadly he usually does. With Chris Smalling and Phil Jones seeing their contracts renewed, United may as well keep them as semi-dependable back-ups and move Bailly on to pastures new where he can rediscover his mojo.
Matteo Darmian is a full-back who can’t attack and is only sporadically good defensively. It’s strange how much he has failed to shine at United although what’s stranger is that he’s still at the club. The Red Devils need to move him on as soon as possible.
Fred was signed primarily to keep him away from Manchester City and you can tell, given how poorly he’s been treated by United. Mourinho made such a hash of his adaptation to the Premier League that even Solskjaer’s new manager bounce didn’t lead to an upturn in form. He’s obviously brilliant, so you don’t want to sell him – but at the same time he needs to play to rediscover his mojo. A solution? Loan him out to Everton or Watford, someone like that, and let him play his way back into form.
Everyone loves Juan Mata, he’s the nicest man in football. However he’s also completely at odds with the kind of team Solskjaer is building. In truth he’s been a bad fit for every United manager he’s played under, albeit he was probably closest under Louis van Gaal (we’ll always have Juanfield, eh?) but his quality, dedication and work-rate has kept him around. But now his deal is expiring he should be allowed to find a new club and begin a new adventure.
Marcos Rojo once cleared a ball from inside his own box with a Rabona. That’s really all that needs to be said about a man whose name translates as “Mark Red” – if he weren’t as injury-prone he’d be a perfect back-up defender, the kind of guy you bring in when you want to just kick the opponents off the park. But he is injury-prone, and United have enough average defenders whose major selling point is their enthusiasm. Sell him to the highest bidder and never look back.