Man United keep or dump: What should Solskjaer & Co. do about De Gea, Pogba and Martial this summer?

Alexis Sánchez, Anthony Martial, Blog, Blog - Marcotti's Musings, Blog Post, Chris Smalling, Clubs, David de Gea, Manchester United, Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku

The future of Manchester United is becoming clearer.

We now know that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be the permanent manager at Old Trafford. A technical director figure may yet be named — possibly an internal appointment, possibly more of an advisor to Solskjaer and executive vice chairman Ed Woodward. Either way, they’ll be sifting through the squad and figuring out who to keep and who to extend. Bear in mind that a number of these players signed contracts with the club retaining the option to extend for one year.

ESPN FC’s Senior Writers Gab Marcotti and Mark Ogden have put together some unsolicited advice:


David De Gea (28 years old, contract expires in 2020)

OGDEN: “He wants Alexis Sanchez-type wages, and you can probably replace him adequately with somebody like Jan Oblak. De Gea is a top keeper but not the best in the world that some think he is, and he’s not worth messing up the wage structure to keep. You may need to settle for less; I’d take anything over £60 million.”
MARCOTTI: “You keep him and extend his deal. I think you can hardball him a little bit on wages; there are likely to be very few goalkeeping vacancies at big clubs, other than maybe PSG.”

VERDICT: Try to keep but listen to offers

David De Gea looks on during Manchester United's Champions League win at Paris Saint-Germain.
De Gea’s arguably the most uncertain Man United star at present when it comes to his future at the club.

Sergio Romero (32, 2021)

OGDEN: “He’s reliable when called upon, and you’ll need to extend his deal.”
MARCOTTI: “Backups are a dime-a-dozen. Keep him if you want, but wait to extend.”


Lee Grant (36, 2020)

VERDICT: Sell for whatever you can get, otherwise keep and let his contract run down

Joel Pereira (22, 2021)

OGDEN: “We haven’t seen enough. Keep, maybe loan and extend.”
MARCOTTI: “Agree with loaning him, but he’s got to get games. He’s 22 and has made just 10 appearances in the past two years.”

VERDICT: Keep and extend, then loan out

Dean Henderson (22, 2020)

VERDICT: Keep and extend, then loan


Victor Lindelof (24 years old, contract expires in 2021)

OGDEN: “He is United’s most improved defender. Keep, but no need to extend just yet given that the club have the one-year option.”
MARCOTTI: “He’s versatile, so you can keep him around. Not sure what the long-term future holds, so keep looking for alternatives.”


Eric Bailly (24, 2020)

OGDEN: “I think he can be a really good player but he’s obviously had a tough time at United so far. If Solskjaer thinks he can get more out of him, you keep him and exercise the option.”
MARCOTTI: “The ability is there but between injuries and poor performances, he has gone backwards. No point selling him now but I’d wait until the last minute to give him another year.”


Phil Jones (27, 2023)

OGDEN: “Let him go. He’s not that old and he has a long-term deal; maybe you can find someone who will give you £20m for him.”
MARCOTTI: “Jones has started 40 percent of United’s league games since 2015 and is on ‘first team regular’ money. When he does play, he’s often poor. See if someone will take him.”

VERDICT: Sell (Estimated price: £20m)

Chris Smalling (29, 2022)

OGDEN: “Amazingly, he got a new deal the night before Jose Mourinho got sacked. Why? Nobody knows. You can get £20m, maybe even £25m for him.”
MARCOTTI: “Maybe you keep him if he’s happy to be a squad player but even then, if you can get real money, you let him go.”

VERDICT: Sell (Estimated price: £25m)

Chris Smalling dribbles the ball during Manchester United's Premier League  match against Southampton.
Smalling is one of the few United players to secure a new contract in the past year but he’s arguably not worth it.

Marcos Rojo (29, 2021)

OGDEN: “He’s another one who mysteriously got another contract extension. Get rid.”
MARCOTTI: “In the past 12 months he’s played more minutes for Argentina than for United. Get what you can.”

VERDICT: Sell (Estimated price: £10m)

Luke Shaw (23, 2023)


Ashley Young (33, 2020)

OGDEN: “He has experience and versatility and he’s been there since the Fergie Era. You may as well keep him until his contract runs out.”
MARCOTTI: “I think he’s a liability. Keep him if he’s good for the dressing room and because you won’t get anything for him but if he gets on the pitch too often, you’ll know something is wrong.”


Diogo Dalot (20, 2023)


Matteo Darmian (29, 2019)

VERDICT: Leaves on a free

Antonio Valencia (33, 2019)

VERDICT: Leaves on a free

Axel Tuanzebe (21, 2020

VERDICT: Keep and extend, then loan out

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (22, 2020)

VERDICT: Sell for whatever you can get


Tim Fosu-Mensah (21 years old, contract expires in 2020)

OGDEN: “With a year left on his deal, you won’t get much, but he won’t make it at United. Sell for whatever he’s worth (roughly £3m).”
MARCOTTI: “He’s versatile, he’s still young, you can extend him by a year and use him for depth since you’re letting a bunch of defenders go. And I think you can get more for him.”


Nemanja Matic (30, 2020)

VERDICT: Keep and make a decision later on whether to extend his contract. You can use the option year to buy time

Pogba split our experts in terms of his future at Man United. He’s one of the world’s best but would the club be better cashing in and using that money elsewhere?

Paul Pogba (26, 2021)

OGDEN: “I think it’s time to cash in if the price is right. He’s going to be a hindrance rather than a help in terms of rebuild and you can’t build a team around him. You can get £150m for him, or maybe Toni Kroos plus £100m or something like that.”
MARCOTTI: “Unless he tells you he wants to go, you keep him. I agree: you can get a lot of money for him and, if it’s Real Madrid, maybe a Kroos or a Raphael Varane in part-exchange. But I don’t think United necessarily need massive rebuild: they finished second last year and he’s an important piece if he wants to be. Though if he stays, you’ll want to extend him.”


Fred (26, 2023)

OGDEN: “He hasn’t been given a chance. Keep him and see what he can do.”
MARCOTTI: “I think the transition has been tougher than expected. You keep him not least because you won’t get much back for him after the season he’s had.”


Ander Herrera (29, 2019)

OGDEN: “He’s been a good servant to the club, but he’s not a player who will take United to the next level. Time to go.”
MARCOTTI: “If you upgrade the midfield as United plan to do, he won’t be a regular. And there’s no point paying ‘starter money’ to a guy on the bench, especially given his age.”

VERDICT: Leaves on a free (and already linked with PSG)

Scott McTominay (22, 2023)


Juan Mata (30, 2019)

VERDICT: Leaves on a free

Andreas Pereira (23, 2020)

OGDEN: “Still not sure what exactly he contributes but given his contract was expiring, you have to extend him by triggering the option.”
MARCOTTI: “He’s versatile and a useful extra body: might as well keep. Doubt you’ll get much if you put him up for sale.”



Anthony Martial (23 years old, contract expires in 2024)

OGDEN: “I’m not convinced by him but he has a long-term contract so give him a chance.”
MARCOTTI: “There’s definitely a market for him so if the right bid comes in — say more than £60m or £70m — you sell him. Especially if you’re going to be saddled with Alexis Sanchez for another season.”


Alexis Sanchez looks on during Manchester United's Premier League match against Fulham.
Sanchez is difficult to move due to his wages, a problem United made for themselves when they got him from Arsenal.

Alexis Sanchez (30, 2022)

OGDEN: “There’s no way he can be this poor again and with those wages, unless it’s someone in China out of the blue, you’re not going to be able to sell either.”
MARCOTTI: “To me, he’s tied to Martial. You either sell one to raise some cash or maybe loan the other and free up some wages.”


Jesse Lingard (26, 2021)

OGDEN: “Every team needs a Jesse Lingard.”
MARCOTTI: “He covers a range of positions, he doesn’t demand to start, fans seem to love him… he’s a real asset. Lock him down to a long-term deal.”

VERDICT: Keep and extend

Romelu Lukaku (25, 2022)

OGDEN: “There just aren’t that many top center-forwards on the market, especially around his age. Might as well keep him.”
MARCOTTI: “He’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but he gives you a different dimension. Maybe he doesn’t start every game, but he’ll still contribute. And with those wages, you’ll struggle to sell.”


Romelu Lukaku looks on during Manchester United's Premier League match against Everton.
Lukaku is a valuable asset who would attract buyers but he’s of more worth to United if they keep him and build the attack more around him.

Marcus Rashford (21, 2020)

OGDEN: “He’s United’s crown jewel. Securing his future should be the number one priority.”
MARCOTTI: “Even if you trigger the option, you enter the final two years of his deal this summer. It’s critical that they get this done and don’t take him for granted.”

VERDICT: Keep, extend his option to 2021 and then give a long-term deal

James Wilson (23, 2019)

VERDICT: Leaves on a free


Of the 31 Man United players above, five are out of contract and another two (Lee Grant and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson) can go for very little. Add the two young keepers (Dean Henderson and Joel Pereira) and Axel Tuanzebe, who you can easily send on loan, and you’re down to 21.

You can quite easily add three senior pros while replacing guys you sell. Obviously, if De Gea goes, you’ll need a top keeper to replace him.

At the back, you need a top central defender, plus perhaps a back-up if you end up getting rid of Rojo, Smalling and Jones in one go. That said, it’s more realistic that you only sell one or two out of those three and though you may then want to keep Fosu-Mensah too, because someone will need to provide some cover across the back. You could also use a right-back, but with Dalot and Young that’s less of a priority.

In midfield, the priority out to be a top two-way player with legs and creativity or, if Pogba goes, two of them. A No.10 type who can unlock opposing defences that choose to park the bus would come in handy too: think Philippe Coutinho from the Liverpool days. Mason Greenwood and Tatith Chong should probably go on loan to get playing time, but if they have a solid preseason and show they can contribute, it might mitigate the need to add another midfielder.

Up front, you can’t really do too much: extending Rashford must be a priority as he and Lukaku will lead the line, at least for next season.

We imagine United’s budget will be up to £150m, plus whatever can be raised through sales and that could be anything from £20m to more than £300m, depending on who goes — and here we differ a bit, particularly on the future of De Gea, Martial and Pogba). What does seem obvious is that United likely won’t be able to bring in more than two A-list superstars unless they’re willing to be bold and sacrifice one of their three prize saleable assets (and no, Rashford isn’t for sale… at any price). Whether Woodward and Solskjaer have the stomach to do that remains to be seen.

Products You May Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *