As José Mourinho never seems to tire of reminding us, Manchester United need better players. In the aftermath of a meek exit to Sevilla in the Champions League, it appears the manager’s resolve to shake up his squad in the summer has only strengthened. Reports emerged over the weekend that as many as 10 (TEN!) current United players could be on their way out this summer.
Just clearing out the deadwood won’t do the trick of course, and several upgrades will have to brought in as well. Mourinho has a mixed transfer record over the course of his career, but the players he has brought in at United have largely been successes.
The United manager believes his squad lacks reliable, experienced quality in all departments and wants to recruit at least four players aged between 25 and 28 to improve his options.
Tottenham full-back Danny Rose and Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred are two leading targets and Mourinho continues to be interested in Willian, but accepts that signing the Brazilian from Chelsea will prove difficult, if not impossible, following last summer’s capture of Nemanja Matic from Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho also wants to add a winger to his attacking options, having missed out on Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic last summer, while Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane also remains on his radar.
Danny Rose and Fred! There are some star names to get your pulses racing, aye? Definitely going in the other direction are the retiring Michael Carrick and MLS-bound Zlatan Ibrahimović. Marouane Fellaini - who should never have been bought in the first place - is a Mourinho pet, but now looks increasingly likely to leave on a free transfer. In addition, a number of other first-teamers will be free to go.
United will listen to offers for Luke Shaw, Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Andreas Pereira, with Chris Smalling, Ander Herrera, Anthony Martial and Juan Mata also facing uncertain futures if Mourinho is able to secure his targets before the start of next season.
Darmian and Blind are so useless that we sometimes forget that either player is still at the club, and it would be a shock if both were still at Old Trafford at the start of next season. Luke Shaw has been treated unfairly by Mourinho, but he also hasn’t once sorted out his fitness and application in four years as a professional at a club that should demand higher standards than he seems willing to meet.
Andreas Pereira likely burned his bridges with Mourinho when he opted for a loan move to Valencia rather than to stay and fight for his place. Chris Smalling has started more games than any other United center back this season, but has never been of the required standard. Similarly, Ander Herrera is feisty, but lacks quality. Juan Mata is both lovely and an excellent player, but it would not be surprising if Mourinho allowed him to leave in search of a regular starting spot.
Selling Martial would be monumentally stupid. Still, if Mourinho doesn’t fancy him, he’ll be on his way. A separate report says that there is no appetite at the club for sacking the manager, and the Portuguese will the freedom to swing the ax this summer as he sees fit.