Next step in Man Utd revolution as Ten Hag tells unwanted trio they’re free to leave after contract decision

Phil Jones and Scott McTominay of Man Utd

Erik ten Hag has told three Manchester United players they can leave Old Trafford this month after the club opted not to extend their contracts, according to a report.

On December 24, Ten Hag confirmed that Man Utd had tied down several key stars to new deals. These were Diogo Dalot, Fred, Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw.

The quartet all had contracts which were due to expire at the end of the current season. But their terms had options to extend by a further 12 months, giving Man Utd a bit of room to manoeuvre.

During an interview with club media, Ten Hag said. “Yes, I can confirm it. We are happy because the squad is going in the right direction and those players [have] a massive contribution in that direction.”

The Dutchman continued: “We want to develop, we want to support those players and we want them to keep in our process.

“So, that’s why we came to those decisions, I’m sure they are the right decisions.

“We want to construct a team for the future, so for longer years, and those players have to be part of it.”

However, not all players have received the same treatment. Defender Phil Jones is one of several players to have missed out on an extension.

Phil Jones set to end Man Utd spell

The former England international is well down on Ten Hag’s pecking order and is yet to actually make a senior appearance this term.

His contract expires at the end of the season, which is when he will be able to leave Old Trafford on a free transfer. But according to Football Insider, Jones is one of three Man Utd men who has been told he can depart the club this month, should the right bid come in.

Due to Jones’ contract situation, this is the last opportunity for Man Utd to make a bit of money back on him. They paid £16million to sign him from Blackburn back in 2011.

However, it is unlikely Man Utd will get anywhere near this price. After all, Jones has managed just five outings since January 2020.

Jones has been joined by fellow defender Axel Tuanzebe in being told he is free to leave. Tuanzebe is due to become a free agent this summer, but Man Utd will aim to offload him for a cut-price fee before then.

The centre-half, who can also play as a right-back, spent the second half of last season on loan at Napoli. He returned to Manchester in the summer but has not done enough to earn Ten Hag’s trust.

Both Jones and Tuanzebe are struggling to get into the Man Utd squad due to the fierce competition for places. Ten Hag can rely on Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof in central defence.

Ten Hag wants goalkeeper revamp

The third and final player who could depart Man Utd in January is goalkeeper Tom Heaton. As Man Utd recently brought in Jack Butland on loan from Crystal Palace, there is no real need to have Heaton in the squad. Plus, Ten Hag hopes to obtain a top-class keeper in the summer, so he wants Heaton to leave to make space for the new arrival.

As with Jones and Tuanzebe, Heaton is due to become a free agent at the end of the season. Man Utd have put him on the transfer market, though he is the least likely of the three to pick up interest.

As Heaton is 36 years old, not many clubs are going to want to spend money on him. At least with Jones (30) and Tuanzebe (25) there is a slight chance they could have an impact on another club’s first team.

This is the next step in Ten Hag’s revolution at Man Utd. He has already gotten some of the existing players to improve, while also using the new signings brilliantly.

Man Utd have a lot of dead wood in the squad and Ten Hag is gunning to get rid of it as soon as possible.

It may be a good idea for Jones and Tuanzebe to drop down to the Championship. They might be able to get some regular game time there, which is unlikely in the top flight.

Meanwhile, Man Utd’s pursuit of an England star has been given a major lift after he changed his mind over his next destination.