The summer of 2022 is shaping up to be the most important in Manchester United’s history.
In addition to finding a new permanent manager, the club must also make significant changes to the first-team roster. For many people, the end of the road has arrived, and several locations are in severe need of reinforcement.
While a massive renovation project may appear to be prolonging United’s trophy drought, the club is in desperate need of a fresh start and new foundations. Ralf Rangnick, the interim manager, has already hinted at the adjustments that must be done, and while it may sound harsh, he has delivered the verdict that someone within the Old Trafford walls has needed to utter for years.
The squad is now in a position where the prospect of competing for a trophy is nothing more than a pipe dream. The defeat to Atletico Madrid ended United’s final chance of winning a trophy this season, meaning Paul Pogba will depart without having helped the club return to the top of English and European football.
He’s on his way out this summer, and he won’t be the only one – that’s for sure. Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard, and Juan Mata, who, like Pogba, are out of contract in June, will almost certainly say their final goodbyes when the Premier League season ends on May 22.
However, while those four players, who would all immediately reduce United’s wage cost, will go on free transfers, United should be aiming to unload periphery players like Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Nemanja Matic, Andreas Pereira, and Anthony Martial, among others. This is United’s time to sever relations with players who aren’t contributing to the club’s urgently needed growth.
Offloading players isn’t easy, to be sure. You can’t simply put a player up for sale and hope that a bidder will be willing to meet your requirements.
United would likely have to bear financial losses as a result of previous investments. What football club, on the other hand, hasn’t?
However, if United is successful in offloading players who no longer want to be at the club and those who have no futures under the next manager, whoever that may be, replacements will be needed, both as regular starts and to provide depth, cover, and competition. If United sells Bailly, Jones, Matic, Pereira, and Martial, and Pogba, Lingard, Mata, and Cavani all leave when their contracts expire, the club will be nine players short right away.
Dean Henderson and Donny van de Beek’s futures are likewise clouded by uncertainty. However, if Erik ten Hag is hired, the latter’s Old Trafford career could be spared, but it’s still too early to tell.
However, if United sells the nine players stated above, the Reds would only need five or six players to replace them. In recent seasons, some sections of the squad, particularly center attacking midfield, have gotten overloaded.
The Reds are expected to make the signing of a new holding midfielder a top priority this summer, with the need for a new striker also likely to be high on the priority list. Other areas of the squad, on the other hand, might be packed with young, exciting talent on the verge of breaking through to the top of the youth divisions.
Ethan Laird and James Garner, who are both on loan, as well as Hannibal Mejbri and Alejandro Garnacho, will be hoping to break into the first-team squad next season, and Ten Hag’s youth policy could help them. However, whether it comes from abroad or the Premier League, new talent will be necessary.
MEN Sport has taken a short look at how United’s 25-man Premier League squad could look at the start of next season, taking into account who could go this summer and who could come in.
Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Dean Henderson & Tom Heaton.
Right-back: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Diogo Dalot & Ethan Laird.
Centre-back: Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof & new signing.
Left-back: Luke Shaw & Alex Telles.
Central-midfield: Scott McTominay, James Garner, Hannibal Mejbri, Fred, Bruno Fernandes & two new signings.
Wingers: Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Elanga & Amad.
Strikers: Cristiano Ronaldo & new signing.