Manchester Utd have seen a significant turnover in playing staff over the past couple of years, but there could and perhaps should be another big clear-out this summer.
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What follows is a selection of players for whom it makes sense either from the club’s point of view or their own to move on to pastures new. It is a list that contains established stars whose careers are winding down, unsuccessful purchases on whom United should cut their losses and younger players whose careers will be best served with a new challenge.
Let’s start with a few Manchester Utd players who might get weary very soon!
1). Memphis Depay
Memphis Depay has struggled in his first season in England. However, three key factors swing the balance in favour of keeping him for another season.
The first is about the speed of adaptation to life at United. Luke Shaw’s superb form early this season was in stark contrast to his shaky first campaign at Manchester United and should serve as an inspiration for Memphis.
The second is the level of talent he has shown in the moments when it has been working for him.
The third are the doubts that exist about Louis van Gaal‘s methods when dealing with creative, improvisational forwards. A new manager could get a very different tune out of Memphis.
2). Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney‘s numbers appear to indicate he is in decline, but it seems unlikely the club will get rid of their captain this summer, and he can be a useful presence in the squad. He should lose his apparent guarantee of a first-team start every game, though.
3). Ashley Young
Ashley Young has had an injury-hit season, and been a little out of favour even when fit, but the fact that he signed a new contract last summer seems to indicate he will be here when next season starts.
4). Michael Carrick:
Has been a fine servant to United. He is, at the time of writing, 23rd on the all-time appearance list, per Website of Dreams. Two more appearances will see him nudge ahead of Sammy McIlroy into 22nd place.
During that time, he has won five league titles, a League Cup and, of course, the UEFA Champions League and Club World Cup. He is one of Manchester Utd‘s most decorated players.
But all good things must come to an end.
At 34, Carrick’s time in a red shirt should be just about up. Pace has never been a particular asset of his, but subjectively it has looked this season as though even the short bursts of running to close down space when an opponent has the ball have been a little more laboured.
It is perhaps telling that no announcement has yet been made on his future, given how close we are to season’s end. It would be no surprise to see him play elsewhere in 2016/17.
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5). Will Keane:
He appeared to be getting his big chance. Injuries ahead of him in the pecking order saw him recalled from his loan spell at Preston North End, and given some first-team minutes.
Sadly, he went down injured moments later. In the weeks that followed, Marcus Rashford made himself United’s starting centre-forward. With James Wilson to return to the mix, and the potential of further investment in new signings up front, there does not look to be a place for Keane at Old Trafford.
He is a popular figure at the club and will no doubt receive a lot of goodwill if he leaves.
6). Paddy McNair:
He was a surprise call-up from the youth ranks into Van Gaal‘s first-team squad last season. This season, though, he has hardly been involved, playing just 312 minutes of league football spread over three starts and five substitute appearances.
When he has played, there has been little to show he is of the required standard to make it as a first-team regular at United. His place in the squad should probably go to another graduate from the youth set-up, and McNair should look to build his career as a regular starter at a lower level.
7). Phil Jones:
He needed a good season. The end of the 2014/15 campaign had been so positive for the then-23-year-old. He and Chris Smalling had begun to build the kind of partnership Sir Alex Ferguson must have envisaged when he brought them both to the club.
What was abundantly clear, though, was that Jones had to remain injury-free for large parts of this season. Unfortunately, the opposite happened.
He has played the least minutes of league football of any season since he arrived at United. That would still be the case if he played every minute of every game left.
Jones looked a bright prospect when he was signed and has had plenty of good moments in a red shirt, but it is time for the club to cut their losses and allow him to move on. Gambling on his fitness, and gambling on his development that has been so hampered by his injuries, would seem an unnecessary risk.
8). Nick Powell:
His Manchester United career could be over after the attacker suffered a potentially season-ending injury.
The 22-year-old briefly featured for Louis van Gaal this season – notably coming on for Juan Mata in the critical Champions League defeat to Wolfsburg – but quickly fell back out of favour.
Out of contract at Old Trafford in summer, Powell’s move to Championship promotion hopefuls Hull was a last chance to show what he can offer.
Injuries have returned to plague the player though, and manager Steve Bruce does not expect to have him available for selection again this season.
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