Manchester United squad verdict: Who should stay and who should leave
- We take a look at the future of each Manchester United player.
- Ahead of the summer transfer window, we analyse who will stay at Old Trafford.
Manchester United endured a turbulent first five months of the 2019/20 season, but recovered to be unbeaten in their last 11 matches before the break. They are also in the last 16 of the Europa League and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, and stand fifth in the Premier League.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is slowly rebuilding this team, having brought in five new players this season. With more arrivals likely in the summer, it is safe to expect a few exits from Old Trafford as well.
In this article, we take a look at the future of all the players in the club, ahead of the summer transfer window.
David de Gea: This has been a poor year by the outstanding goalkeeper’s own standards. The club's number one has made 32 appearances in all competitions this season, conceding 33 times, and keeping 10 clean sheets in the process.
The Spaniard's form has picked up after a horrible start, with five clean sheets in the last six games. The error that gifted Dominic Calvert-Lewin was an anomaly. He remains a key part of the team, and Solskjaer will be hoping for his ace goalkeeper to get back to his best at the earliest.
Sergio Romero: Romero is arguably the best backup keeper in the world. Despite having the benefit of playing against fodder, Romero produced superb saves against Wolves and Derby to keep United in the FA Cup. His contract will expire in a year, although the club has the option of extending it by another twelve months.
The emergence of Dean Henderson as a top-class keeper does cast a cloud on his future, but it is unlikely that Romero will be sold this summer.
Dean Henderson: Henderson has been Sheffield United's man between the sticks for two seasons. After Sheffield's promotion to the Premier League, Henderson has proved he can do it at a higher level too. The 23-year-old has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, with the Blades conceding only 25 goals in 28 games.
He is considered the future of Manchester United, and could be a long-term successor to David de Gea. With regular game time being a doubt at the club, he could be sent on loan again.
Verdict: Stays, possibly sent on loan to Sheffield United for another season
Lee Grant: The veteran goalkeeper has played just one game for Manchester United this season. Nevertheless, his experience and professionalism are seen as valuable assets for a third-choice goalkeeper. Grant also penned a new one-year contract only last month.
Harry Maguire: Many eyebrows were raised when United paid an exorbitant sum for Harry Maguire. Initially, the England international had some dodgy moments, but he was key to United's excellent form since the start of the year.
The central defender was appointed as the club's full-time captain after Ashley Young left in January, and has chipped in with two goals. Maguire is a key cog in Solskjaer’s wheel.
Victor Lindelof: Lindelof was solid at the back last season. Before the start of the 19/20 season, many expected Lindelof to form a successful partnership with Maguire, but his performances this season have been far from convincing.
Since the start of the year, however, the Swede has flourished, and has put in improved performances. Lindelof signed a new five-year contract in September last year, and should be given a long rope at Old Trafford.
Axel Tuanzebe: Many United fans expected greater things from Tuanzebe, but injuries have hampered the 22-year-old since he returned from a loan spell at Aston Villa. There is no question that he has potential, though, and has shown glimpses of what he is capable of.
He has not played since December, but is expected to grow into a first-team regular in the coming seasons.
Eric Bailly: Injuries have restricted the progress of the Ivorian. He returned from a knee problem with an outstanding performance against Chelsea in February. Bailly is behind Lindelof in the pecking order. However, he too signed a new deal earlier this year, extending his stay at the club till 2022.
Phil Jones: Jones has endured a tough season. The 28-year-old has one goal in his eight appearances this term, but has featured just twice in the Premier League, and has not played since the start of the year.
When he has taken to the field, the Englishman hasn’t been convincing enough. While he did sign a long-term deal last year, he doesn’t seem to be a part of Solskjaer’s plans, and could be shown the door this summer.
Marcos Rojo: Rojo rarely stays fit for long, and never convinces when he plays. He has been sent on loan to Estudiantes, and it looks like he is not in Solskjaer's plans.
Chris Smalling: Smalling has performed well in Serie A this season, and has been one of the best defenders in the Italian league. Paulo Fonseca, the Roma manager, has made it clear that they want to sign Smalling on a permanent deal. United are also open to selling the 29-year-old.
Aaron Wan-Bisssaka: Wan-Bissaka has been the signing of the season for United. After struggling to settle initially, his performances have picked up. The 22-year-old has been near-flawless defensively. Since the turn of the year, he has improved his attacking output, and already looks like a bargain at 50 million euros.
Diogo Dalot: Wan-Bissaka's form and injuries have prohibited Dalot from featuring regularly this term, leading to rumours of a potential exit in the summer. However, given his age and potential, and the lack of backup at right-back, the Portuguese is expected to go nowhere.
Luke Shaw: The former Southampton man is finally living up to the potential he showed early in his career. Brandon Williams kept him out of the team in January, but Shaw has emerged as dependable in a back three as he is at left-back.
As the season went on, Shaw found confidence and consistency, and has finally established himself as a first-team regular. He started all 11 games of the unbeaten run, and looks set to feature heavily for United.
Brandon Williams: One of the breakthrough stars of the season, Williams emerged into the first team from nowhere. The defender has shown his versatility by operating as a left-back and a wing-back during the current season. Williams' ability to perform on the big stage is much appreciated by United's fans. The youngster also signed a new contract in October last year.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah: The Dutchman has not featured even once this season, with injuries constantly hampering his career. United have triggered a one-year extension, which will keep him at Old Trafford for another season. Given his age and versatility, there is a chance that Solskjaer will give him some time to prove himself next season.
Nemanja Matic: Like many of his compatriots, Matic had a forgettable first half of the season. It looked certain that the midfielder's United days were numbered, but the Serbian's form has revived since the start of the year. Matic is expected to sign a new short-term contract as well.
Fred: Many questioned whether Fred would ever prove himself as a United player, but the Brazilian has been putting in good performances for some time now. He is well and truly established as a United-class midfielder.
Fred finally looks like a player capable of turning up every week in the middle of the park. Having enjoyed a fine resurgence, his future at the club is very much secure.
Paul Pogba: This could and perhaps should have been Pogba's season, but a constant ankle problem has seen him restricted to just eight appearances in all competitions.
The future of Paul Pogba is the biggest question for Manchester United heading into the summer. The player’s agent has constantly made no secret of the fact that Pogba wants an exit from the Red Devils.
He has once again been linked to Real Madrid and Juventus, but the changing economic scenario means that suitors might find it hard to meet his transfer fee. This is a difficult one to call, but there is a chance that he stays for another season.
Scott McTominay: McTominay had a breakthrough campaign this season. The academy man has steadily grown into a key player at Old Trafford. He was arguably United's best player alongside Marcus Rashford in the first half of the season, before a knee problem stopped his progress. He also signed a new long-term deal last year.
Andreas Pereira: The Brazilian midfielder was given plenty of chances to impress, but struggled to make an impact. He has become a bit-part player since Bruno Fernandes arrived, and is no longer in the United fans' good books. He is one of the players whose future at the club is in a precarious position.
Juan Mata: The Spaniard has enjoyed playing alongside Fernandes, but his overall contribution this term has been limited. Mata currently is utilized effectively as a cup specialist.
There have been signs of age catching up, but Mata remains a valuable member of the side with his experience and leadership. He has time left on his contract, and will continue to essay an important role as a squad player.
Bruno Fernandes: It has not taken long for the Portuguese to make his mark since arriving in January. It is difficult to assess the full impact Fernandes has had on United's team. His arrival was the turning point in United’s season. The midfielder has also brought a real sense of leadership to the club.
Jesse Lingard: Lingard has endured a difficult season. Poor form on the pitch and issues off the field have meant he has fallen out of favour at the club. It is fair to say that his days at United are numbered. It is highly likely that he will be moved on this summer.
Daniel James: James produced match-winning performances in the first four months, but suffered a dip in form in the winter. However, not many expected the Welshman to make the kind of impact that he has made in his debut season, and he should only get better from hereon.
Tahith Chong: Chong resolved any doubts about his future by signing a new contract recently. Chong's United career at the first-team level is yet to ignite. At 20, he certainly has time on his side. We can expect him to be more involved in Solskjaer’s plans next season onwards.
Verdict: Stays, might be sent on loan
Alexis Sanchez: Sanchez was a statement signing, but he has never turned in a man-of-the-match display for the club. A loan spell at Inter Milan this season hasn't gone according to plan. It is highly likely that he will leave the club in summer.
Anthony Martial: Martial has played as an out-and-out number nine this season. He has been key for United in attack since his return from injury.
The Frenchman faced a lot of criticism from Man United legends early on this season, but the 24-year-old is finally showing signs of living up to the potential he had shown early in his stint at Old Trafford. He has been on a consistent run of form, which will help his confidence.
Marcus Rashford: Rashford struggled during Anthony Martial's two-month absence, but recovered to reach new heights. The youngster is the club’s talisman and leading goalscorer this season, despite having been injured for a while.
Rashford is the present and the future of the Manchester United team.
Mason Greenwood: The biggest beneficiary of United’s decision to not sign a striker last summer, Greenwood has thrived in the first-team picture. He has bagged 12 goals already, and is considered the best finisher at the club.
The Englishman has shown his class on several occasions coming off the bench, and has all of the skills required to be a huge player for the football club moving forward. He also signed a contract extension in October last year.
Odion Ighalo: A boyhood Manchester United fan, Ighalo is enjoying his time at United. Signed on loan in January as a stop-gap solution, he has forced the United hierarchy to consider making the deal permanent after the impact he has made.
With finances likely to take a hit due to global pandemic, the Red Devils might refrain from spending heavily on a big-name forward like Harry Kane. This could bode well for Ighalo.
Verdict: Stays, deal should be made permanent