Man Utd rate their reigning Under-23s Player of the Year extremely highly, and his impressive displays this season could leave a once undroppable first-teamer fearing for his position, per reports.
Despite a few early bumps in the road, the feelgood factor is back at Manchester United. Erik ten Hag has revitalised the Red Devils and they bounced back from their derby defeat with a 2-1 victory over Everton on Sunday.
Both goals came via United players winning the ball back in dangerous areas. Ten Hag has been instrumental in pushing United further up the pitch and instilling a higher workrate in his stars.
He’s also tackling the club’s issues away from the pitch. Indeed, the Telegraph reported he’s called on United’s decision-makers to adopt a more ruthless approach to player contracts.
United insert one-year club options in virtually all of their players’ contracts. Many were often triggered in order to protect their investment, though Ten Hag wants extensions and new deals to become harder to earn.
One player whose future will come under the microscope in the not too distance future is Luke Shaw.
The left-back, 27, won the Man Utd Players’ Player of the Season award in both 2018/19 and 2020/21. However, he’s fallen to a distant second behind summer recruit Tyrell Malacia under Ten Hag.
Shaw’s contract expires in 2024 with the club holding an option for an extra 12 months. However, Shaw could face a new threat to his hopes of regular gametime from the beginning of next season.
All eyes on Deepdale
United youngster, Alvaro Fernandez, is earning rave reviews in his current loan stint at Preston North End.
The Spaniard, 19, joined United’s academy from Real Madrid in 2020 in what was seen as a major coup at the time.
Fernandez was awarded Man Utd’s Under-23s Player of the Year in May and is setting the Championship alight at Preston.
He plays either as a left-back or left wing-back and has provided assists in each of his last two matches. His tally of assists after just 10 matches across all competitions this year now stands at four.
He’s been lauded in the local press for his recent eye-catching displays, something that has prompted Spanish outlet AS to provide an update on his future. AS are keeping a close eye on Fernandez given he’s one that got away for Real Madrid.
Fernandez decision could leave Shaw beached
Their report states Man Utd are rubbing their hands together given the player’s development.
Furthermore, United are said to have placed ‘blind trust’ in Fernandez. Clearly, the inference is they’re thrilled with what they’ll soon have at their disposal.
Fernandez’s loan spell at Deepdale will conclude next summer. At that point a decision will reportedly be made that could see him retained in Ten Hag’s first team.
That should not come as a surprise if that call is made given Fernandez has already flirted with United’s first team. He was an unused substitute for Ralf Rangnick’s final four matches in charge last season.
There’s already been talk of Ten Hag seeking an attacking upgrade on Diogo Dalot at right-back.
Inter Milan’s Denzel Dumfries has been mentioned and potent attacking options at full-back are vital for Ten Hag’s system to thrive.
Fernandez has always been known as an attack-first type of left-back. Given Malacia would represent a safe pair of hands and an excellent one-two punch, Shaw’s position could quickly come under threat in 2023.