Five Players Manchester United must offload in the summer transfer window | THT Opinions

The Hard Tackle takes a look at five players Manchester United must offload as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continues his squad transformation this summer.

2019/20 has been yet another season of rebuild for Manchester United. In what has been their first full campaign with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in-charge, the Red Devils have shown some positive signs, returning to the UEFA Champions League with a top four finish while reaching the semi-finals in both the domestic cup competitions.

Manchester United also had a reasonably successful European campaign, before being losing yet another semi-final, this time in the UEFA Europa League. So, it seems like the transfer business that United have done so far under Solskjaer, coupled with their exploits on the field, are taking them in the right direction.

After a decent season, Solskjaer needs to be supported by the Manchester United board. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
After a decent season, Solskjaer needs to be supported by the Manchester United board. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Having said that, Solskjaer’s team are still a work in progress and they have a long way to go if they want to reclaim their place at the summit of English football. After all, while Manchester United did impress by finishing third on the Premier League table, champions Liverpool garnered a whopping 33 points more than them.

For a second summer window in a row, the kind of transfer business they indulge in will determine whether they can sustain their upward trajectory under current management. As far as the signings are concerned, Jadon Sancho is a priority, and his transfer is one Manchester United are confident about pulling off. Who else they target and land remains to be seen; who they should chase is up for debate.

However, the incoming players alone will not aid Manchester United’s cause. The players who they choose to part ways with – because they are deadwood or rapidly transforming into liabilities – will also be a key decision, as Solskjaer looks to continue moulding the squad in his image and elevating the level of the team.

The Norwegian manager has already done so successfully, with Manchester United selling players who were deemed to not be the right fit in his system – Romelu Lukaku and others – or were simply surplus to requirements – Alexis Sanchez among others. With the evolution of Solskjaer’s squad expected to continue this summer, The Hard Tackle picks out five players United must sell.

David de Gea

Staring at an exit from Manchester United? (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)
Staring at an exit from Manchester United? (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images)

The first name on our list might have been too controversial a pick a couple of years ago; it still might be contentious for several Manchester United fans. However, if one has followed the Red Devils long enough, it is evident that de Gea does not nearly bring the same value to the table as he once did at his pomp.

At the peak of his powers, the Spaniard was an indomitable force, hardly making any errors and none that cost Manchester United dear. However, a switch seems to have been turned off in de Gea following the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where after a horrendous showing against Portugal in the group stage, he was chided by Spanish media and fans.

Since then, de Gea’s errors in the Manchester United goal have surged multifold, often costing the Red Devils valuable points; points that might have helped them qualify for the UEFA Champions League last season, although United came through unscathed in their 2019/20 Premier League campaign. A look at the pure numbers also makes for a sorry read for de Gea as well.

Only two goalkeepers in the Premier League (Martin Dubravka and Jordan Pickford, both 8) have made more errors leading to a goal than the 29-year-old (7) in the last two seasons. His command over his near post has become increasingly atrocious while his ball playing skills have shown little to no improvement. Solskjaer’s show of faith in him has not worked one bit either.

With Dean Henderson signing a new contract with United and breathing down his neck, it could be the right time to part ways with de Gea. Manchester United already have a top class goalkeeper in Sergio Romero and would be served well to cut their losses on de Gea, whose sale would also ease their wage bill. Because as things stand, peak de Gea is nowhere to be seen. As they say, all good things come to an end. And with de Gea, the end seems to be near.

Diogo Dalot

Set to leave Manchester United this summer. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
Set to leave Manchester United this summer. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

Up next is a player who is expected to be the first one out of the exit door at Old Trafford, owing to the fact that he does not seem to be a part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans. That player is Diogo Dalot.

Signed by Manchester United in the summer of 2018, Dalot had highly impressed then manager Jose Mourinho, who hyped him up on several occasions. At one point, Mourinho even claimed that the Portuguese full-back has what it takes to emulate Gary Neville at Old Trafford.

However, upon the appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Dalot’s prospects have gone pear shaped. Since the start of 2019, Dalot has featured just 27 times for Manchester United. Taking just the 2019/20 season in isolation, the 21-year-old managed to start a mere 7 games, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka usurping him following his arrival last summer.

But, it is also important to note that while Wan-Bissaka is the undisputed first-choice right-back for Manchester United, Dalot did not even get a place in the side when the Englishman was rested. Instead, Timothy Fosu-Mensah was favoured over him as the season neared its end.

So, Solskjaer seems to have made it amply clear that Dalot does not feature in his plans, and a summer departure appears to be likely. PSG and Barcelona have been linked with him in recent months and a move to either club might just be possible.

Andreas Pereira

Off you go. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Off you go. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

We are now at the midway stage of our list and the next name on our list is Andreas Pereira. Here is a player who was touted for big things when he was in the Manchester United youth setup. In fact, fans were even clamouring for his inclusion in the first-team while Louis van Gaal was still the manager, nearly half-a-decade ago.

However, in the five years that have passed since, Pereira’s growth curve seems to have plateaued. Sent out on loan on a couple of occasions, the Brazilian international did impress in fits and starts while at Valencia and Granada. But, when donning the red of Manchester United, his impact was close to negligible.

One of the standout performances for the Red Devils came in a 3-2 win over Southampton in the 2018/19 season; that and a couple of other solid displays seemed to have done enough to earn him a place in Solskjaer’s squad heading into the 2019/20 campaign, with his prospects helped further by the fact that Manchester United were unable to sign a creative midfielder last summer.

But, after failing to impress one bit in the first half of the season gone by, Solskjaer’s patience was starting to wear thin. Given ample chances to make an impression, Pereira did very little to influence games. In came Bruno Fernandes, at long last, in the January transfer window and since then, the sight of Pereira in the Manchester United kit has been a rare one.

Both him and Jesse Lingard were sent tumbling down the pecking order and widespread reports even claimed that the duo’s time at Old Trafford was up. However, with Manchester United slow to act in the transfer market so far, one of them might just stay put; that one player should be Lingard, following a strong end to the season. As for Pereira, a return to Valencia has been mooted, and that might be the right way to go for him in his career.

Phil Jones

Jones has become surplus to requirements for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Jones has become surplus to requirements for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Speaking of stagnating talents, there is none bigger than Phil Jones, as far as Manchester United are concerned. At the time of his arrival at the club, nearly a decade ago, the legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson famously claimed that Jones was a Manchester United captain in the making.

That prophecy, however, ended up being one of the rare gaffes made by one of the greatest of all time. However, the claims were hardly unfounded as at his best, Jones was often a solid customer at the back and even showed some good organisational skills to make the Manchester United back-line impregnable.

Such performances, though, came spasmodically, as injuries were starting to take a toll on his progress. With his development curtailed significantly, Jones slowly became erratic in his displays and was out on the sidelines for long stretches. It has been the running theme during Solskjaer’s tenure at Manchester United as well, with Jones currently out injured once again.

The English international has, therefore, reached his sell by date; in fact, the right time to part ways with Jones was way in the past. Nevertheless, it is never too late to make the right decisions and one such decision is to sell Jones while bringing in a more reliable central defensive option.

Marcos Rojo

Rojo is on his way out of Manchester United. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)
Rojo is on his way out of Manchester United. (Photo by Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

We end our list with another defender. The final name in this feature (admittedly a couple of other potential selling options have missed out) is Marcos Rojo, who, like Dalot, is expected to be sold by Manchester United sooner rather than later.

Rojo arrived at Manchester United in the summer of 2014 following an impressive World Cup campaign with Argentina. However, much like Jones, his time with the Premier League giants has been plagued by a raft of injuries that have curtailed his development, much to his and the club’s frustration.

His best spell at United came in the 2016/17 season, when he forged solid partnerships with Eric Bailly and Jones. However, after sustaining a long-term knee injury, Rojo has not been the same player and has become increasingly prone to errors – way more than he usually was before the big injury.

Upon arriving at Old Trafford as their new manager, Solskjaer immediately identified that Rojo did not have what it takes to make it in his defensive unit and relegated him to being a backup option. After struggling to receive game-time, the Argentine was sent out on loan to Estudiantes for the second half of the season.

However, his tryst with injuries continued after returning to his homeland as well and he was hardly available. Now back in England, Rojo has admitted that he is eager to get his future resolved and a summer departure is highly likely. Selling Rojo, in addition to Jones, would serve Manchester United well too, as they might be kicked into action to get in a reliable centre-back. Either way, this is a sale that is imperative.

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