Manchester United star players expected to let go and some may sign some

Erik ten Hag’s reign at Manchester United is underway, and it will inevitably lead to comings and goings at Old Trafford.

As speculation peaks in the run-up to the June 10 transfer window opening, Andy Mitten cuts talk to give an inside view of what could happen between now and September.

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OUT

Antoine Martial

A flop on loan at Sevilla, where he picked up an injury and scored just one goal from January to May, the Frenchman still has a contract until 2024 – he’s also one of the biggest earners in the team. Given how far his stock has fallen and how much he is earning, it will be difficult to get off the books. Another loan could be the best option – if United can find a club that will pay a significant part of his wages.

Dean Henderson

The goalkeeper wants to play first-team football. Can you blame him? He’s a Premier League goalkeeper who’s too good to be David de Gea’s No.2 and he’s also United’s best opportunity to raise cash through a sale.

Juan Mata

A great guy and a very good player who was European champion with Chelsea, but the time has come for him to move on, as he will. He is 34 and feels he can still play every week.

Edinson Cavani

Despite the smiling tone of his leaving message this week, his second season in Manchester has been horrible. It was a shame after the way he finished his first one so well. The Uruguayan, 35, leaves fans with mixed memories of his stay. Asked about his future plans ahead of United’s final game of the season, the one he actually played at Crystal Palace, he replied: “we’ll see”.

Paul Pogba

The world’s most expensive player when he arrived from Juventus in 2016, the Parisian enjoyed six mostly disappointing seasons at Old Trafford. All but his first season ended without a trophy.

Injuries and managerial changes didn’t help, nor did poor communication with fans, but he struggled to fit into several United systems. The fact that he was allowed to leave for free for a second time shows how disappointing the World Cup winner was at Old Trafford.

Frenkie de Jong is admired by new manager Erik ten Hag having worked together at Ajax.  APE

IN

The transfer window doesn’t even open until June 10 and it remains open until September, but United have been linked with dozens of players as usual. Transfer speculation sells. United’s priority is in the forward and midfield positions. They have a substantial but limited budget which would be supplemented by possible sales. United feel they support every manager and invest heavily in the squad, but do so in a financially disciplined way.

Frenkie De Jong, 25, is a player Erik ten Hag looks up to and Barcelona can raise significant funds for the midfielder. They paid 75 million euros ($80.4 million) for him, but he is happy in Catalonia and can’t wait to play Champions League football next season. His form has been mixed at Camp Nou and Barca have the luxury of several top-class emerging midfielders, including Gavi, Pedri and Nico. De Jong was better when he played alongside veteran Sergio Busquets.

There has been initial contact between United and Barca over a possible transfer, but his manager Xavi wants him. However, Xavi might be forced to sanction a sale given the club’s financial situation. It will be hard to sell. The money will help them pay off their debts but Barca can’t reinvest any money as they have to follow league rules. There are also mixed messages within Barca, with some officials saying they haven’t budgeted for any player sales.

Benfica striker Darwin Nunez could be of interest to Manchester United, but much of the current speculation is being driven by agents.  AFP

United have plenty of potential targets. Some were offered to them, others spotted and monitored by the club. Ten Hag has had meetings with John Murtough, a power maker at Old Trafford, Amsterdam, to discuss specific players. The pair will work together. Some players have been made public through their agents, some have not.

It’s not incorrect to say that United look up to players like Ajax defender Jurrien Timber, 20, and Benfica’s Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez, 22, but much of the talk is currently being driven by officers. It may be in their interest to publicize the names of their customers online and they want their share of the transfers. Benfica’s business model is to sell players, many of whom are recruited from South America, to wealthier leagues, so they aren’t unhappy with publicity either.

United are in talks with numerous players’ agents, fueling speculation, but only some are moving towards firm negotiations. United do not believe they need ten new signings and believe there is still plenty of quality in the squad with the potential to do better than last season. There are also good young people coming. James Garner was excellent at promoted Nottingham Forest last season.

United also believe their squad have been too big in recent years and are comfortable with out-of-contract players leaving without direct replacements.

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Updated: June 05, 2022, 03:46

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