Manchester United will look to protect themselves from being poached on the cheap in January by taking up 12-month options on the deals of four of their players.
Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Ashley Young and Daley Blind are all out of contract next summer and eligible to talk to interested overseas clubs from January 1 – but United are ready to guard themselves against seeing them leave on free transfers next summer by invoking the 12-month options on their contracts.
Talks over a new long-term contract for Herrera have dragged on for the best part of a year and, with the Spain midfielder linked with both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, United are ready to activate the option to avert him signing a pre-contract agreement with either.
Herrera, however, is keen to stay at Old Trafford, even though he is behind Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Marouane Fellaini in the midfield pecking order and it is hoped a long-term deal could soon be agreed.
The report in the Daily Telegraph adds that the long-term futures of Mata, Young and Blind are less clear, but by invoking the clauses in the players’ deals United will avoid any immediate complications and give manager Jose Mourinho time to decide what he wants to do with the players at the end of this season.
Young has established himself as United’s first-choice left-back this season, but at 32, there are doubts as to how long he can hold down the position.
Blind, meanwhile, has started just three Premier League matches for United this season and is seen as a squad player only.
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And Mata, who was left out of United’s matchday squad against Chelsea last weekend, has been pushed down the order at Old Trafford with Mourinho often preferring Henrikh Mkhitaryan this season. Ongoing speculation suggesting United could sign Mesut Ozil would appear to suggest, at 29, his time at United may be drawing to a close.