It’s already clear that Erik ten Hag’s first summer at Manchester United is going to see a rapid turnover of players both leaving and coming in.
While the 10 new signings Ralf Rangnick suggested United urgently need is more likely to be just three high quality buys, with up to £150million available to spend, a long overdue clearing out of the deadwood looks inevitable.
For one thing, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic, Edinson Cavani and Juan Mata are all set to depart Old Trafford on free transfers once the window opens.
It appears that Erik ten Hag’s tenure as Manchester United manager will commence with a much-needed clearing out of the deadwood at Old Trafford
But now reports suggest that United will listen to offers for five players it appears have already been deemed surplus to requirements in the Ten Hag rebuild.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles, who have been playing for United on a fairly regular basis, may come as surprise inclusions.
But central defenders Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are clearly not going to win back their place, while forward Anthony Martial has already been loaned out to Sevilla.
It’s been a season of endless frustration for United, who are now five years without a trophy
Each, in their own way, have become victims of the decade of drift, decay and dysfunction at United since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.
All looked to have a place and a purpose at one point or another but have found themselves stymied by injuries, squad competition, poor performances or simply falling out of favour amid a churn of managers.
We take a look at what has gone wrong and what could potentially happen next.
Left-back, signed from Porto for £15.4m in October 2020
Telles being added to the transfer list may surprise many because he is playing regularly for United at the moment with Luke Shaw set to miss the remainder of the season through injury.
But despite great promise and potential, his time with United has been pretty underwhelming and perhaps Ten Hag just doesn’t see the Brazil international fitting the bill as the kind of flying wing-back he loves.
Telles, who only arrived in October 2020, was very much an Ole Gunnar Solskjaer man, brought in to put pressure on Shaw to up his performances at left-back.
Alex Telles was signed to provide competition for Luke Shaw but has failed to become No 1
The thing was, Shaw responded with his best season in a United shirt in 2020-21 and Telles found himself warming the bench in just about every Premier League game.
Though he played quite often in United’s run to the Europa League final, he was never able to dislodge Shaw as first choice and only injuries to the England man have seen him play so often this season.
Unfortunately, Telles hasn’t been performing very well and Saturday’s loss at Arsenal, which saw some dodgy positioning and the concession of a penalty, hardly did his chances of staying in favour much good.
Telles clumsily fouled Bukayo Saka to concede a penalty for Arsenal’s second goal on Saturday
Ten Hag favours three at the back and wing-backs who arguably contribute more going forward than they do defensively.
It looks like Shaw will get the first chance to impress the new manager assuming he returns to full fitness over the summer.
If Telles leaves, perhaps youngster Brandon Williams, who has been on loan at Norwich, will return as Shaw’s understudy next season.
Right-back, signed from Crystal Palace for £50m in 2019
Wan-Bissaka, one of the most exciting young players in the Premier League when signed for £50m from Crystal Palace back in 2019, certainly didn’t come cheap.
Three seasons on, it’s fair to conclude that the right-back hasn’t kicked on in his career and improved in the way both he and United would have expected.
After 126 games for the club, Wan-Bissaka continues to frustrate more often than he delights and there have to be serious doubts that he can fulfil an attacking wing-back function for the new manager.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka cost United £50m three years ago but the right-back hasn’t kicked on
While his tackling is fine, questions must be asked of his positioning, marking and attacking qualities. His insistence on checking back before crossing is sure to annoy Ten Hag, who wants his wing-backs to push on to the byline.
Just 10 assists in those 126 outings for United really is a disappointing return, especially when under Solskjaer the side was geared up to counter attack with speed and width.
Rangnick has started to play Diogo Dalot in his position a bit more, which given the Portuguese was so unwanted last season he was loaned out, is a pretty damning indictment.
Wan-Bissaka will no doubt find another Premier League club and the new start will do him good but United are going to have to cut their losses.
Wan-Bissaka is a good tackler but his attacking play down the right flank still underwhelms
Central defender, signed from Villarreal for £30m in 2016
It’s little surprise to see Bailly on the for sale list even if his Instagram comment last week betrayed his belief that he should be starting ahead of Harry Maguire at the heart of United’s defence.
Even when Rangnick gave Maguire the afternoon off at Arsenal on Saturday, he favoured Victor Lindelof ahead of Bailly, which just illustrates how far the Ivorian’s stock has fallen.
Eric Bailly has made no secret of his dissatisfaction at not being in the United starting line-up
Bailly made the comment under a comment on a Manchester United Instagram post
He’s had just seven outings and a measly 487 minutes of football in another write-off of a season, so it’s understandable that United would want rid, even if Bailly has a contract until 2024.
That new deal last April was just another example of scattergun thinking in the United hierarchy, given his game time was already declining, he was injury prone and hardly covered himself in glory with his performances.
The fact he isn’t preferred to the equally unreliable Maguire tells you everything you need to know. It’s all a far cry from when Jose Mourinho sanctioned his £30m purchase in his first summer as manager.
Bailly in action during one of his rare outings for United during a season of frustration
In Bailly’s defence, he has been unfortunate with injuries in recent seasons but he’s 28 and should be firmly in his prime.
Only at another club may that actually come to fruition now, especially if Ten Hag moves for his tried and trusted Ajax defender Jurrien Timber and potentially also Pau Torres – a Villarreal defender like Bailly was – in the summer.
In fact, you can imagine Ten Hag watching the videos of Maguire, Bailly and Lindelof and just shuddering.
Central defender, signed from Blackburn Rovers for £16.5m in 2011
It wasn’t meant to be this way for Jones, one of the most promising English defenders in years when Ferguson signed him from Blackburn back in 2011.
Over a decade on, Jones is one of only three in the current dressing room who knows what it feels like to win the league title with United and he’s watched an awful lot of dross in the interim.
Phil Jones, whose career has been wrecked by serious knee injuries, could leave this summer
The horrific knee injury that robbed Jones of 20 months of football in what should have been the best part of his career rightly elicits a lot of sympathy.
But now is the time to move on from United and start afresh where more regular football can be obtained.
Despite being fit again since the start of the year, Rangnick has only used Jones in three games and he’s fifth or sixth on the central defensive pecking order with little chance of a rise.
United will surely wish him all the best when Ten Hag comes in and find him the best club for the next chapter as he looks to restart his stalled career.
Jones and Harry Maguire react in horror after one of Liverpool’s goals at Anfield last week
Forward, signed from Monaco for £36m in 2015
So unwanted at United that he was allowed out on loan to Sevilla back in January having barely featured for United during the first-half of the campaign.
That loan spell has hardly been inspiring, with just one goal and one assist in 11 outings so far.
So it isn’t as if Martial is in such hot form out in Spain that United can’t wait to reintegrate him next season. An exit seems highly likely and they’re going to have to take a financial hit.
Anthony Martial was deemed surplus in January and sent out on loan to Sevilla in Spain
The French striker cost them £36m initially back in 2015, with add-ons pushing that closer to £60m. For that, Martial has shown only glimpses of his abundant potential.
Seventy-nine goals in 269 games for United doesn’t appear to be a bad return on paper but he’s only really had two good seasons – his first one in 2015-16 and the 23-goal return under Solskjaer in 2019-20.
He has then failed to back that up with the kind of goalscoring consistency you’d expect from someone so talented.
With United almost certain to sign another forward or two in the summer, it’s time to cut the rope. There may not exactly be a queue round the block for him though.
Anthony Martial has scored just once in 11 games during his loan spell with Sevilla so far