There have been incessant reports in recent weeks about who Manchester United may look to sign this summer as Jose Mourinho prepares for his second season in charge.
But, for the first time in years, the team does resemble a group capable of competing for the title. It is, of course, a big jump from 6th to 1st but with the likes of Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial a year older, the Reds could harbour genuine title ambitions even if Victor Lindelof wasn’t followed in the door by anyone else this summer.
What must be addressed before the opening day of the season, however, is the dead weight in the squad. Too many of Mourinho’s charges last term weren’t up to the level they’re aiming for and with a host of young players waiting in the wings if needed, there has to be the beginnings of a changing of the guard this window.
Here are five players we think the Special One should show the door this summer.
Wayne Rooney – Age: 31
There’s little arguing with this one. The English and United captain dragged his side down when he started and you could count on one hand the number of good performances he turned in off the bench. If and when another attacker joins the ranks at Old Trafford, there’s no excuse for keeping the Liverpudlian around any longer.
Chris Smalling – Age: 27
One of Smalling and Phil Jones will be leaving the Theatre of Dreams this summer, it’s become a certainty following Lindelof’s arrival. While the former was superb under Louis van Gaal, it was difficult to understand, at times last season, how he ever made to the highest level of English football. The joke going around United circles the week of the Europa League final was that the Greenwich native would be Ajax’s most dangerous threat.
Ironically, he put in his best performance of the season that day but the issues unquestionably remain. While Jones struggles interminably with injuries, he is at least a viable option when fit and so Smalling’s time in red should be coming to an end.
Marouane Fellaini – Age: 29
Fellaini admittedly did play his part in United’s hectic season. He even produced some impressive showings from time to time. Nevertheless, he remains far and away the least talented player in Mourinho’s squad. A good attitude can only get you so far and it shouldn’t be the Champions League.
The expected arrival of a defensive midfielder such as Fabinho or Nemanja Matic should herald the Belgian’s long overdue departure. Even if a deal for either player doesn’t materialise, the former Everton man’s days must surely be numbered.
Ashley Young – Age: 31
Since his arrival 6 years ago, Ashley Young has been a decent servant to United. Versatile and dependable, he’s been an omnipresent, if somewhat peripheral, figure for a number of seasons. Like Fellaini though, he should have been jettisoned long before this summer. At best, he’ll be third choice left-back next season and the allure of the US or China should tempt him away from the Theatre of Dreams.
Adnan Januzaj – Age: 22
Twenty-two is very young to, as many United fans have, give up on a player who, for a whole season under David Moyes, looked like a world-beater. That being said, he’s shown nothing of substance for three seasons now and it’s time to let him go.
Reports last week suggested the club would insert a priority clause in any move away from the club this summer and it certainly seems a smart move considering the talent he once showed.