Manchester United’s disappointing end to the season has highlighted their urgent need for signings, but which are the players whose futures lie away from Old Trafford?
#10 Matteo Darmian
The Italian was one of Louis Van Gaal’s final signings and has endured a difficult spell at the club after an initially bright start. He was voted the United’s player of the month in his first month at the club while his performance in his first official game – a 1-0 victory over Spurs was described by Van Gaal as ‘the best of the match’. Towards the end of the season, Darmian lost his place to Marcos Rojo and has remained on the fringes ever since. The first choice for his country when he signed for United, it’s difficult to envisage the downward spiral his career has taken and with Inter and Juventus thought to be keen on signing him, his departure looks likely.
#9 Phil Jones
The English defender is already a one-time title winner under Sir Alex Ferguson and was even described by the Scot as having the potential to be ‘United’s best ever player’, likened by him to the legendary Duncan Edwards. Six years on from Sir Alex’s departure, Jones has failed to live up to the potential which saw United, Arsenal, and Chelsea all compete for his signature from Blackburn. His brief renaissance under Solskjaer seems to have plateaued and now seems the best time for all parties to move on, despite signing a new contract just months earlier.
#8 Ashley Young
Ashley Young’s position at Manchester United is one that is seriously up for debate. The former winger has been club captain since Wayne Rooney’s departure but his defending has been disastrous at times. One of the few players left at the club who understand it’s culture, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may yet choose to retain the services of Young, despite the clamour amongst fans calling for his departure.
#7 Romelu Lukaku
The first choice at international level, Lukaku is yet to scale the heights with United that he managed to at Merseyside and at the World Cup with Belgium. His best return at Everton was a 25-goal tally in the league while he has yet to touch 20 goal season in the league at Old Trafford. The Belgian was surprisingly relegated to the bench at the start of Solskjaer’s tenure but fought his way back into the lineup and with his age on his side, there is still time for him to seek greener pastures away from rain-laden Manchester.
#6 Marcos Rojo
The scorer of the goal that prevented Argentina from being knocked out of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in the group phase, Marcos Rojo’s season has gone downhill ever since. His continued injury worries have meant that he has never had a chance to become the first choice, while his rash tackling has meant Solskjaer has been rather reluctant to thrust him into games at crucial junctures. He turns 30 next year and even though saving his United career might well be impossible, there might one final payday for him provided he decides to leave this summer.
#5 Juan Mata
Juan Mata’s situation at Manchester United is a rather peculiar one. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made it clear he wants the Spaniard to stay but the player himself refuses to confirm or deny reports of an impending departure, instead preferring to focus on his club’s season. His soft-spoken demeanour and selflessness on and off the pitch have made him a fan-favourite and Mata will have no trouble in finding a new club due to the high regard he is held in by clubs and coaches all over Europe, which might perhaps be the best solution for all parties involved.
#4 Sergio Romero
The best second-choice goalkeeper in the league seems to be a Manchester United man through and through, but could easily choose to be first-choice somewhere else. The club will be loathed to let him leave but should the opportunity to be the first-choice goalkeeper at a top club arise, Romero might well be tempted to leave the place he has called home 2015.
#3 Chris Smalling
Another player against whom the fan-clamour is rather high, Smalling’s season has been relatively better compared to his compatriots. He has put in some masterful performances, particularly against Kylian Mbappe in United’s Champions League knockout tie against PSG. If, however, Smalling is to re-establish himself as a part of the England setup, he might well have to leave United and prove he can play a different, ball-playing brand of football – a lack of which has been touted by Gareth Southgate as the primary reason for his omission from the set-up.
#2 Paul Pogba
Recently named by Patrice Evra as the best player for United this term, Pogba’s failure to influence games during United’s most important period of the month has led to what can only be described as a fan-mutiny against him. Matters came to a head when a fan was heard mouthing expletives at the Frenchman following United’s defeat against Cardiff and with Madrid calling – it might be best for him to leave a place where he is not the most-loved at this moment.
#1 Alexis Sanchez
Just where did it all go wrong for Alexis Sanchez?
The man who was supposed to be the missing piece in United’s jigsaw has instead scattered all the pieces haywire – out of form for more than a year now. For the best-paid player in the Premier League, a change of scenario might be the most viable option, especially with Manchester United looking to free up their wage bill to fund their summer rebuild.