Revealed: Why Man United's looming 'contract crisis' is not as serious as it seems
Eleven Manchester United first team players will reach the end of their current contracts next summer, but fears of a mass exodus of star names from Old Trafford can be allayed.
Captain Antonio Valencia, keeper David de Gea and striker Anthony Martial are among the players who have entered the final year of their contract terms, but all three have clauses that should ensure they stay at the club for another year at least.
The concern may be that the market value for De Gea and Martial will slump if they fail to sign new deals with United in the next few months, amid suggestions that the two players are stalling over signing new deals evidence that they are weighing up their options ahead of what could be a career defining move.
De Gea's enduring links with Real Madrid appear to end following Thibaut Courtois's move to the Bernabeu last summer, yet the Spain No.1 would be a prime target for most of Europe's top clubs if there was a hint he could leave United in a cut-price deal.
Meanwhile, there is an expectation that Martial will not sign a new United deal until the future of manager Jose Mourinho is resolved, with Independent.ie among those reporting last summer that the United boss did not see the French striker as part of his long-term plans.
The much-maligned defensive duo of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are also out of contract this summer, but they are among those who have one-year contract extensions built into their deals and even if they are not a part of the club's long-term plans, United are likely to extend their deals to enhance their selling value.
However, the collective futures of Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Ashley Young and Juan Mata is less clear, as the high-profile quartet have already had the additional year of their contracts activated and will be free to leave United on free transfers in the summer of 2019 unless new agreements can be reached.
Full-back Shaw has impressed in what has been traumatic start to the season for United, but his tempestuous relationship with boss Mourinho may encourage him to consider his career options unless a new management team is installed.
Shaw, Herrera, Young and Mata could start contract negotiations with potential employers on January 1st, with pre-contract agreements permitted to be signed if they decide to leave United.
The Old Trafford club paid around £100m in transfer fees to sign the quartet, with that investment likely to be lost if they fail to agree new deals with the players.
Matteo Darmian, James Wilson and Andreas Pereira are also out of contact at United at the end of this season, but all three could have clauses in their contracts activated to ensure they will be tied to the club until the summer of 2020.
Coming Soon: Independent.ie's new GAA newsletter. Sign up here