Silly season is now in full swing. Manchester United have already made their first signing of the summer, with Victor “The Ice Man” Lindelöf joining from Benfica in a £31m deal. We here at The Busby Babe can barely remember seeing the Swedish center back play, but we’re prepared to churn out 700 words on why he’s the new Rio Ferdinand by halftime of the first preseason match this summer. We’re shameless like that.
Other signings are likely to agreed in the coming weeks, with negotiations ongoing for Álvaro Morata, and at least two more players likely to follow. But as fun as it is to discuss potential incoming players - can Mourinho fit both Neymar AND Bale in the same side?! - there are only so many places available in the squad. Some of the cuurent United players will need to be moved to make room for the new additions.
Here are five players that should make way.
The writing may already be on the wall for Smalling with the signing of a new center back. Although he did start the biggest game of the season ahead of Phil Jones, Mourinho inidicated that the decision was down to Smalling having better match fitness at the time. Both English central defenders have proven unreliable during their time at United, but there is a a sense that the manager has more confidence in Jones of the two.
Smalling has the ability to be a good defender, but he has showcased that ability too infequently. At 27, he can no longer be considered a prospect. We’d all be better off without the stress of seeing his name on the teamsheet and wondering which version is going to turn up. It’s time to cut him loose and let him join Arsenal, which should be his spiritual home anyway.
A ray of hope in the darkness of the Moyes season, but we’re afraid that’s the only thing for which our Adnan will be remembered. Lacks the pace and work ethic to ever be a Mourinho player, and hasn’t done anything of note to warrant yet another chance. Not good enough.
Darmian somehow ended the season as the first-choice left-back at the club, and performed admirably in the role. He’s not the most exciting full-back, but he’s a tough defender and he demonstrated that he can be relied upon when given a run in the side.
He’s also one of the worst footballers to play for United in years. He has no technical ability whatsoever, and lacks practically all of the qualities required in an elite modern-day right-back. At least one specialist full-back should be signed, and Darmian should be shipped off back to Serie A.
He’s not as bad as his critics will have you believe. The manager loves him. He’s popular in the dressing room. When playing confidently, he can be effective both from the start and off the bench. He offers a different option to any other player at Mourinho’s disposal.
That said, we’re still talking about Marouane Fellaini here. As a Manchester United player. Fellaini. We know what he is; we know what he isn’t. Get rid.