Who could leave Manchester United this summer in Jose Mourinho clear-out?
Jose Mourinho is expected to rid himself of several fringe players when the market opens again but who is on the chopping block.
Substituted at half-time and singled out for criticism following Saturday’s win, Luke Shaw is likely to leave Old Trafford this summer mere months after Jose Mourinho said he did not know of many better left backs than the 22-year-old.
Shaw, who has one year remaining on his current Manchester United contract, has failed to fully earn Mourinho’s trust over the past two seasons, with Ashley Young preferred ahead of him this term, though Shaw’s struggles to recover from the effects of a broken leg in September 2015 must be taken into account.
Daley Blind began the season as Mourinho’s starting left back but a string of sub-standard performances in the role saw him demoted to and play just four Premier League minutes since.
The Dutchman has become something of a forgotten man at Old Trafford, but he did play the entirety of United’s Champions League group stage campaign. An ankle injury has prevented him from any further appearances since mid-January.
Another full back whose time at Old Trafford appears to be approaching its end is Matteo Darmian, who was left out of the matchday squad to face Brighton at the weekend.
The Italian’s last two starts ended with underwhelming displays against Bristol City and Yeovil Town and his only chance of playing from the off again is if first-choice right back Antonio Valencia suffers an injury between now and the end of the season.
Even then, Mourinho is likely to prefer converted centre-back Victor Lindelof to Darmian, who after a promising start to his United career, wilted under the pressure to deliver consistently.
It seems a long time since Ander Herrera was named the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year, but it was in fact just 10 months ago.
The Spaniard broke David de Gea’s stranglehold on the prize last May as a number of industrious performances - his best in the 0-0 draw at Anfield - convincing supporters he deserved to be recognised.
Mourinho, however, recruited Nemanja Matic in his position the following summer and Herrera has struggled to force his way into his manager’s thoughts since. Though he provides adequate cover in midfield, the emergence of Scott McTominay may have moved him further down the pecking order and at 28, he should want more than just bit-part role.
Perhaps the most naturally-gifted of Mourinho’s forwards but one also prone to passive play, Anthony Martial has never looked quite the same since being replaced as United’s central striker and shifted out to the left.
Martial has all the attributes to perform well in a wide role and at 22, still has time to develop too, but it is hard to see how he realises his obvious potential while playing under a manager who is wary of mercurial talent.
It is understood that the centre of defence will be a priority when Mourinho seeks to strengthen this summer, even though the position is already over-subscribed in the United squad.
Eric Bailly is assured of a place as first-choice, Marcos Rojo can deputise at left back and has signed fresh terms, while Victor Lindelof remains a relative newcomer.
Either Phil Jones and Chris Smalling may therefore make way, if not both, though Mourinho has displayed a fondness for Jones when he is fit.
Smalling, on the other hand, has only played regularly this season due to the injuries of others and is still, seven years on from his arrival, yet to convince.
Despite being highly regarded by Mourinho, Marouane Fellaini is yet to put pen to paper on a contract extension that will prevent him from leaving Old Trafford on a free transfer this summer.
Mourinho has sounded gradually more pessimistic as the months have dragged on and a move, perhaps to Turkey’s Super Lig, seems increasingly likely. It would end a contentious United career, but one with odd moments to savour.
Mourinho himself confirmed that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s second season at Old Trafford will be his last. “It will be a very personal decision for him to play or to stop,” the United manager said earlier this month, suggesting the 36-year-old may well retire.
In retrospect, the decision to award Ibrahimovic another year’s stay despite the serious knee ligament problem he suffered last April seems rash and out-of-character for a club that often avoids making calls heavily based on sentiment.
Michael Carrick will bring his playing career to an end at this season’s close after 12 years of service to United, with a place on Mourinho’s backroom team likely to accepted.
The 36-year-old midfielder has now recovered from a heart problem detected during the early part of the season, but is only expected to play a bit-part role for the remainder of the campaign.
Carrick is the squad’s only remaining link to Alex Ferguson’s final great side, the 2008 Champions League winners, and will end with five Premier League medals to his name.
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