Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Five players Man Utd will axe in one department named with a sixth earmarked to go in 2023

Man Utd quintet Luke Shaw, Jadon Sancho, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly and David de Gea

Man Utd will seek to axe as many as five players in defence this summer, and a sixth could be sold in 2023 once a new centre-back is signed, per a report.

Erik ten Hag has inherited what statistically was the worst Manchester United defence they’ve fielded in the Premier League era. The Red Devils shipped 57 goals in the league last season, surpassing the 54 they conceded in the 2018/19 campaign.

United are understood to be hopeful of addressing the issue in the market.

Indeed, they were heavily linked with a move for Ajax’s Jurrien Timber. Though his international ambitions appear to have scuppered a move.

Lisandro Martinez is another from Amsterdam to have emerged on Ten Hag’s radar. However, Ajax are hopeful of limiting any further exits this summer. The Mirror claimed only one of Martinez and winger Antony will be allowed to leave.

That could put a move for Villarreal’s Pau Torres back in focus. A deal for the Spaniard could become a necessity if Man Utd get their way.

That’s because the Manchester Evening News report the club are hopeful of expelling five defenders this summer.

Defensive exodus to begin this summer

Centre-backs Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe have all been made available for transfer. Jones and Bailly are claimed to have outlined their intention to leave to their teammate already.

In the full-back positions, Aaron Wan-Bissaka is surplus to requirements in Ten Hag’s system. The 24-year-old’s lack of attacking output makes him a poor fit for the new Dutch boss.

On the opposite flank, Brandon Williams has reportedly been told he’s free to find a new club.

Aside from the quintet, the MEN report current third-choice centre-back Victor Lindelof will likely leave in 2023 if a new centre-half arrives.

Manchester United centre-half Victor Lindelof

The Swede would have one year left on his contract come next summer and is likely to have been relegated to fourth choice at best by that time. To avoid losing him for free 12 months later, a sale will reportedly be targeted next summer.

While the lesser lights of United’s back-line are due to be moved on, the MEN claim the starting elements will remain largely the same.

The back five of David de Gea, Diogo Dalot, Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw could yet be the starters come opening day.

That declaration stems from the club prioritising reinforcements in other departments, most notably midfield. On that front, today’s Euro Paper Talk provided a wholly encouraging update on the Frenkie de Jong saga.

Will Man Utd regret mass clear-out?

Of the five earmarked to leave this summer, only Wan-Bissaka has covered himself in any glory. The full-back did endure his worst campaign to date last season, though was a dependable performer in each of his first two seasons at Old Trafford.

Yet if United are to truly embark on a rebuild under Ten Hag, he must be allowed freedom to overhaul the squad as he sees fit.

Jones has completed 90 minutes just once in the last two years after overcoming an injury hell. Bailly was curiously given a new three-year contract in April, 2021 and has played just 13 times since. They, along with the oft-loaned Tuanzebe will not be missed.

Williams’ potential exit could come as a surprise to some. However, it is perhaps an indication that the United hierarchy are content with Alex Telles as Luke Shaw’s chief back-up. Telles is also a more attack-minded option than Williams, something that could be of benefit to Ten Hag.

While it will be difficult to offload all five this summer, United won’t be worse off for doing so.