Man United must decide on 11 players with expiring contracts
Manchester United have to make a decision on whether to keep an incredible eleven first team squad members whose contracts expire this summer or next.
The pressing cases are loanee Odion Ighalo and youngster Angel Gomes. Ighalo’s contract expires on 31st May and recent reports suggest that his move will only be made permanent if the Red Devils fail to sign longer term targets in the striker position. But it is a decision that may need to be made before the transfer window opens, as Shanghai Shenhua are already back in training ahead of the start of the 2020 Chinese Superleague. We expect United to try to extend Ighalo’s loan but if this is not possible, they are unlikely to sign him on a permanent deal before the current season is even finished.
Gomes still has not signed the contract that has been on the table for months and it would appear that the Red Devils are not willing to increase their offer for the young playmaker. The ball is clearly in Gomes’ court with the club hoping the deal will eventually be accepted.
In terms of contracts expiring in just over a year’s time, Old Trafford bosses will be consulting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his coaching staff for an assessment as to whether nine other players should be put up for sale now rather than be allowed to leave on a free transfer at the end of next season.
The nine are goalkeepers Sergio Romero, Joel Pereira and Lee Grant, defenders Marcos Rojo and Tim Fosu-Mensah and midfielders Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard.
Of the three keepers, Grant’s contract has already been extended as he takes up more of a coaching role within the club. He is likely then to either retire or stay on as a coach.
Joel Pereira may well be sold in the summer. His loan deal at Hearts has not gone as well as planned and he was dropped from the Scottish side’s first XI after a number of high-profile mistakes. If a buyer can’t be found, another loan deal may be an option for the Portuguese keeper in the hopes of putting him in the shop window before his contract expires.
Assuming Dean Henderson goes back out on loan, United will no doubt want to give Sergio Romero a new contract although some reports have suggested that Romero himself may choose to move on in search of more playing time as his career enters its final years.
It seems almost inevitable that Marcos Rojo will be sold so the club can recoup at least some money for the Argentinian and get his £80,000 per week salary off the books. AS Roma are reportedly interested in signing the 30-year-old. Everton may also come back for the player that they came close to signing last summer before the deal fell through at the last minute.
Both Matic and Fosu-Mensah have already had their contracts extended by one year as they were both due to expire this June. In Matic’s case, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been quoted as saying ‘he will stay, 100 per cent’ but for the Dutchman, it is unclear as to whether the move was made because the player is still wanted at Old Trafford or whether it was to protect his value while United look for a buyer.
Lingard was one player widely tipped to be sold this summer after another immensely disappointing season for the Reds. However, The MEN is now reporting that as his transfer value is currently so low, he may be kept for another year until the market recovers, as there is an option to extend his contract by one year until 2022. We don’t believe this will be the case and expect him to leave, with Everton again being a possible destination.
Juan Mata is probably much more valuable to the club than any transfer fee that could be recouped for him at age 32, especially if he maintains the form he showed immediately prior to football’s lockdown. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has often spoken of the great influence the Spaniard has on younger players and Mata himself said recently he wants to stay at Old Trafford as long as possible, so it is highly unlikely Mata will leave this summer.
That leaves Paul Pogba. There have, of course, been countless reports linking the Frenchman with moves to Juventus and Real Madrid, among other destinations. However, the simple fact is that right now, the Frenchman’s transfer fee and wage demands mean it is highly unlikely he will find a buyer this summer. Real Madrid in particular have been widely reported to have ruled out a move for the Frenchman.
United can trigger a one-year extension to Pogba’s contract that would keep him at the club until 2022, at which point he will be 29 years of age and probably too old to interest the world’s top clubs. We think that the most likely outcome of this one is that the Red Devils will do their utmost to keep Pogba, offering him a lucrative 4 or even 5 year contract, unless he asks for a transfer or refuses to play.
Our predictions for the nine players, then, are as follows:
Sell: Rojo, Fosu-Mensah, Lingard, J. Pereira
Keep with new contract: Romero, Gomes (if accepted), Pogba
Allow to run out contract: Grant, Matic, Mata, Ighalo (if loan can’t be extended).