Man Utd plan to trigger options on five current first-teamers before the January window, and the future of Cristiano Ronaldo will directly affect the decision on Marcus Rashford, per a report.
The focus at Old Trafford in recent months was understandably on potential arrivals. A window that at one stage looked like it was meandering towards failure ultimately produced the signatures of several high profile stars.
Antony, Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez were the headline attractions, though the free agent addition of Christian Eriksen looks no less important.
Tyrell Malacia has already slotted in nicely at left-back too, displacing Luke Shaw in the process. Martin Dubravka arrived on loan from Newcastle to provide back-up to David de Gea.
However, with the window in the rear view mirror, attention has shifted to those already at the club and in particular, their contracts.
In that respect, the Manchester Evening News report no fewer than five stars are poised to have the one-year options in their contracts triggered before the winter window opens.
The quintet are De Gea, Diogo Dalot, Shaw, Fred and Rashford.
Regarding the latter, it’s suggested his option will be triggered before a ‘long-term’ contract is signed at a later date.
Rashford has rediscovered his best form this season and was instrumental in ending Arsenal’s five-match winning streak a week last Sunday.
He is capable of playing both up front as well as out wide, and the continuing uncertainty surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo makes him a figure Manchester United cannot afford to lose.
Ronaldo situation ramps up Rashford importance
The MEN report Ronaldo is ‘likely to leave’ at some stage in the next 12 months. As such, Rashford’s future in Manchester is more important than it otherwise might’ve been.
Ronaldo continues to draw links with a surprise move to Saudi Arabia. The president of their FA recently broke his silence on the idea of Ronaldo gracing his league.
Rashford, meanwhile, had drawn links with PSG late in the summer window. However, the common consensus was it was merely a negotiating tactic fostered by Rashford’s camp in order to give United a nudge over an extension.
De Gea, Shaw, Dalot and Fred are also in line for one-year extensions via the options in their deals. All five are currently in the final year of their respective deals, though the options would add 12 months on.
The situation does not look as rosy for a pair of centre-halves, however.
The MEN add Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones are expected to depart in the next year.
Jones also holds an option, though United are reportedly unlikely to trigger it. Tuanzebe, meanwhile, will see his contract expire outright next summer. The current plan is not to offer an extension, per the report.
Man Utd right to extend five stays?
De Gea, Dalot and arguably Rashford are all in Erik ten Hag’s current strongest eleven. There is little sense in not extending their stays.
Shaw has fallen behind Malacia in the pecking order, though the loan exit of Alex Telles means he is still vital for the squad as a whole.
The odd man out is perhaps Fred who has been relegated to fourth choice in the engine room.
Eriksen and Scott McTominay have shone while partnered, while many believe it’s only a matter of time before Casemiro makes his mark.
Fred is the big loser of the two central midfield additions and is already the wrong side of 30.
The MEN suggest his contract will be extended in order to protect his re-sale value. However, it’s questionable that the much maligned Brazilian has a high re-sale value anyway.
What’s more, links to Frenkie de Jong refuse to go away. Few would be surprised to see another blockbuster midfield addition in one of the next two windows and Fred’s role would then be decreased even further.