Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd backed to axe four players in one position, with a fifth who ‘ghosts through games’ on borrowed time

Man Utd trio Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Luke Shaw and Bruno Fernandes

Up to four players in the same department of Erik ten Hag’s squad could be axed prior to next season, and a Man Utd reporter has claimed there’ll be “no point persevering” with a fifth star if he continues to “ghost through games”.

Manchester United embarked on the beginnings of a wholescale rebuild last summer. A plethora of club stalwarts were moved on and by and large, United are better for it.

Indeed, first-teamers Nemanja Matic, James Garner, Andreas Pereira, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard and Edinson Cavani were all either sold or saw their contracts expire.

Of that seven-strong list, only Pereira at Fulham has left United with a slight sense of regret.

However, the one thing those players all have in common is none of them are defenders. That means the club’s books are still filled to the brim with deadwood, though perhaps not for much longer.

In a Q & A for the Manchester Evening News, United specialist, Samuel Luckhurst, was asked which stars will leave in 2023.

Defensive clear-out coming

Luckhurst, pointed to four defenders who all barely kick a ball for the Man Utd first-team. He also went on to detail a fifth star – this time in midfield – who time is fast running out for.

“Without specifically surmising when [winter window or summer], it would be a surprise if Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe were all still at the club beyond next summer,” wrote Luckhurst.

“Fortunately for United, the squad rebuild is at a decent point, so there is not much to clear out in attack and midfield.

“Both areas need enhancing, but there is not an obvious player to jettison apart from maybe Donny van de Beek.

“With certain others, it’s pointless to surmise at this stage as there is so much football to be played.

“If Van de Beek continues to ghost through games then, after three years, there is no point persevering.

“Ajax banked a lot of money from United in the summer and they should try recouping some of it by selling Van de Beek back to them.”

What’s next for Man Utd outcasts?

TEAMtalk exclusively revealed United are open to selling £50m flop Wan-Bissaka in January. Two Premier League clubs are chasing his signature.

Tuanzebe’s contract expires next year, meaning he’s likely to leave in 2023 one way or another. Jones’ deal expires next summer too, though United hold an option for an extra 12 months.

However, with Maguire, Varane, Martinez and Lindelof all on the books, there’s little sense in triggering it. Even if Jones weren’t beset by injuries in recent times, he’d still struggle to displace any of the frontline four.

Left-back Williams has been shunted down to third in the pecking order following Tyrell Malacia’s arrival from Feyenoord. Neither he nor Luke Shaw will be leaving any time soon, meaning Williams likely will be.

Finally, Van de Beek’s career has continued to nosedive since moving to Old Trafford in 2020.

United forked out £35m when signing him from Ajax, though he’s barely got a look in under three different managers.

Ten Hag recently claimed another loan deal – such as his failed stint at Everton – doesn’t make sense.

Ten Hag either wants a permanent sale or for Van de Beek to prove his worth in United’s first-team. The former looks the likeliest outcome at this stage, though Fabrizio Romano worryingly claimed he’s heard of little transfer interest in the Dutchman.

Luckhurst addressed many topics in his Q & A, including outlining why Cody Gakpo might not be the incredible coup many Man Utd fans are being led to believe.

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