It might seem like a while away, but football clubs do not want to let a player enter the last year of their deal if they have any plans to keep them.
Agents are aware they can demand massive signing on fees if there isn’t a transfer fee involved, so it leaves the club with no real leverage in negotiations.
The Manchester Evening News recently reported on the nine Man United players who will be out of contract in the Summer of 2021, so here’s a breakdown and a look at what United should do with each one.
Jesse Lingard – Midfield/Forward – SELL
It feels like Jesse Lingard still gets a pass because he’s a young player with potential, but he’s actually 27 and these are technically his prime years. He’s clearly lost his confidence and he’s become easy to play against. It’s possible he could still be a useful squad player if he got that confidence back, but it would be best for United to sell and Lingard to get a chance to revive his career elsewhere.
Paul Pogba – Midfielder – KEEP
Admittedly reports keep varying on this one, but it’s starting to feel like he might stay in Manchester. Juventus and Real Madrid will struggle to find the cash, and United did turn things round before play was forced to stop. The club would need to ensure it was a long term deal with no release clause to shut down any future rumours, but a midfield of Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay would be exciting to watch.
Joel Pereira – Goalkeeper – SELL
Pereira looked promising a couple of seasons ago and was highly regarded at Old Trafford and back in Portugal, but this season has been a disaster. He’s on loan at Hearts who are shockingly bottom of the Scottish Premiership, and Pereira had a huge part to play in that. His positioning is shambolic and he can’t hold any shots, so there is no way he should be anywhere near the first team at Old Trafford.
Sergio Romero – Goalkeeper – KEEP
This will depend on the Argentine agreeing to stay as a backup keeper, but he’s brilliant to have around and fills that spot perfectly. Fans might wonder if Dean Henderson should back up David de Gea next season, but that could stunt his development if he’s kept on the bench. Ideally you want the number two to be experienced and solid when needed, and that’s exactly what Romero is.
Marcos Rojo – Defender – SELL
Rojo’s versatility may have been useful at times, but in truth it’s down to his inability to nail down a position. He’s not dominant enough to be a centre back and lacks the pace and technical ability to be a modern full back. He’s served a purpose as a back up option over the years, but there’s no justification for keeping him on at this point.
Juan Mata – Midfielder – SELL
The Spaniard is still a supremely talented technical player, but he doesn’t really have a place in this team. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer relies on pace and counter attacking to create chances, and Mata just slows everything down. United have suffered for years when teams come and camp behind the ball, and having a player like Mata isn’t what they need going forward.
Lee Grant – Goalkeeper -Sell/Retire
Grant’s place at Old Trafford is a bizarre one, because realistically something has gone dreadfully wrong if he makes the first team. He’s not Premier League quality and Sergio Romero provides a veteran presence alongside David de Gea. It also sounds like clubs may need to save money, so highly paid third choice keepers can’t be seen as a priority.
Nemanja Matic – Midfielder – KEEP
He might not be the most exciting player to watch and it looked like he would be on his way out at points this season, but he can have an important role to play at times. In games where they need someone to shield the defence and offer a threat from distance then Matic is ideal, but he does slow the game down if United dominate possession. A handy role-player and a decent back up, United should keep Matic around for an extra year.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah – Defender – SELL
Fosu-Mensah looked promising when he broke through, but failed loan spells and injuries have hampered his development, so it would be best for everyone to let him move on. United could sell him and keep an option to buy him back in the future, while the player would get to move and rebuild his career.
One of the hardest things for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been finding a way to clear out the deadwood at Old Trafford, but he’s starting to get there and getting rid of some players when their deals expire will help to slim the squad down even further.