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In Or Out: Assessing Manchester United’s Player Pool As Change Needed

If Manchester United’s season has taught us anything it’s that wholesale changes are required under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford.

Under Jose Mourinho, some of the squad struggled and despite the initial boost that Solskjaer’s appointment brought with it, they are falling victim to the same pitfalls that plagued them at the beginning of the campaign.

It has become evident that some of the current squad simply are not good enough to play at a club like Manchester United.

Solskjaer warned on Sunday that players could face the axe but who should stay and who should go?

We assess the current squad and look at what players are good enough to keep and which ones need to be moved on.

*Note: For argument’s sake we will assume the academy players like Joe Garner, Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong etc will be staying.

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1) David De Gea – Stay

De Gea may have made a couple of errors over the last two games and if we’re being anal you could argue his distribution isn’t at an elite level, but he’s a player Solskjaer must keep.

He’s saved United on a number of occasions this season and brings stability to an otherwise below par back five. De Gea must be kept.

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2) Victor Lindelof – Stay

The Swede isn’t particularly well suited to playing right-back but had a spell during the season where he was arguably United’s best defender in his more preferred centre-back role.

Still only 24, Lindelof is a player that Solskjaer could certainly feel he can improve with a full pre-season, and compared to last year he has already progressed quite a lot. Worth keeping.

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3) Eric Bailly – Go

Bailly is a difficult one. On one hand, he can be a strong dominant defender whose pace can nullify even the finest of attackers, while on the other hand he can be rash and loses concentration frequently which so often leads to errors.

Will probably be let go should the right offer present itself.

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4) Phil Jones – Go

After eight seasons at United, it’s high time we finally admitted that Phil Jones is not and never has been good enough for a club of their calibre.

As error-prone as he is injury prone, Jones is a player who simply has to go.

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6) Paul Pogba – Stay

The Frenchman has a wealth of talent but a questionable attitude. Letting him go could be a vital part of the rebuild but on his day he is one of the finest midfielders in the world.

Solskjaer has a dilemma on his hands

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7) Alexis Sanchez – Go

Five goals in 42 appearances for Sanchez since he joined the club from Arsenal, the Chilean has always looked a shadow of his former self when in a United shirt.

Struggled under Mourinho and Solskjaer and needs to be one of the first out the door.

Sanchez

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8) Juan Mata – Stay

A tricky one. Mata is different from anything else United have in his position but so often he slows down their attack when he finds himself in the starting XI.

He’s a player whose attitude you can never fault and is likely excellent for the young players at the club but at 30 years of age, it’s hard to imagine his best years are anything but behind him.

Out of contract in the summer, he’s probably a player United should keep.

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9) Romelu Lukaku – Go

Lukaku has scored goals but hasn’t quite lived up to expectations since his arrival from Everton. The Belgian’s overall game has often been poor and his barren spells in front of goal worrying.

United could and should cash in on him.

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10) Marcus Rashford – Stay

Rashford is one of the easiest ones to assess. At just 21 and a product of the youth academy, he has been and will continue to be a key component for United going forward.

One of the core players Solskjaer could build a team around.

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11) Anthony Martial – Stay

A difficult one. A player whose quality and potential is hard to argue with, but who can drift out of games and put in some truly abysmal displays as shown against Everton.

Only 23, a summer working under Solskjaer could be the best thing for him.

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12) Chris Smalling – Go

Smalling had a brief spell where he was playing some strong football at the heart of United’s defence but like Jones, he is another who is simply not cut out for the highest level.

The defender finds himself caught out at the back so often and needs to be shipped out during the summer after nine years at the club.
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13) Lee Grant – Stay

A solid third choice goalkeeper. No benefit in letting him go.

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14) Jesse Lingard – Stay

So often criticised, rather unfairly for his social media antics, Lingard on his day has proven that he can be a match-winning player in the Manchester United team.

Does he need to deliver more regularly? Absolutely, but he is an important player no matter how much his celebrations seem to get on people’s nerves.


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15) Andreas Pereira – Stay

Recently had his contract extended by a further year and only 23, Pereira is certainly a player for the future. This season he has finally been given his chance and has performed quite well in midfield.

The Brazilian will hopefully make his mark next season.

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16) Marcos Rojo – Go

Rojo only has 17 appearances over the last two seasons at United and at 29 years of age, the Argentine isn’t getting any younger.

An easy decision to let him go.

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17) Fred – Stay

Fred was signed for £52 million in the summer hasn’t quite lived up to the lofty expectations on his shoulders since his arrival.

He has however shown flashes of brilliance and given an extended run in the squad and a season to adjust to the pace of the Premier League could fulfil his potential.

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18) Ashley Young – Go

A solid servant to the club in the eight seasons he’s been at Old Trafford, this season has proven that Young just doesn’t have what it takes anymore.

At 33 years of age, his legs aren’t what they used to be and so often this campaign he’s been exposed in the right back position. He must go.

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20) Diogo Dalot – Stay

Still only 20 years of age, Dalot has shown promise in the 14 appearances he has made in the Premier League this season.

One for the future for Solskjaer and a certainty to stay.

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21) Ander Herrera – Go (May Have To Sell)

Arguably Manchester United’s most important midfielder but his failure to agree on a new contract could see him leave regardless.

A calm and quality influence in the middle of the park, he should be kept no question, but whether he wants to stay is another issue.

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22) Sergio Romero – Stay

One of the best second choice goalkeepers in the Premier League. Will be kept.

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23) Luke Shaw – Stay

Shaw signed a new five-year deal at the club in October and has looked much better this season, making 26 appearances in the league, the most he has managed since his arrival at Old Trafford.

.Shaw has a long career ahead of him at Manchester United.

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25) Antonio Valencia – Go (Is Out Of Contract)

Another great servant to the club, Valencia’s departure at the end of the season was essentially confirmed by the Ecuadorian in an Instagram post.

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31) Nemanja Matic – Go

Too many disappointing displays and at 30 years of age, doesn’t have the legs or the influence on a midfield that he once had. Matic can go.

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34) Matteo Darmian – Go

The Italian could never quite nail down a starting place at United after his first season at the club. 29 years of age and only five league appearances this season, he’s a player who can most certainly go when his contract expires at the end of the season.

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39) Scott McTominay – Stay

A no-brainer. McTominay is becoming a first-team regular and has shown in a number of strong displays that he is the exact type of player the club needs.

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About Oisin McQueirns

Oisin McQueirns is a digital journalist at Pundit Arena. Massive fan of Leeds United, Ric Flair and Trusting The Process. Contact him here oisin@punditarena.com