Manchester United will have ambivalent thoughts about how this past year rolled by, and manager Jose Mourinho must now surely have identified the players that he can do without next year
The season hasn’t quite panned out as the Portuguese manager would have liked. Short bursts of sublime form and good attacking displays haven’t managed to keep United at the same level as the rest of their competitors in the Premier League.
There were no big exits from United after Mourinho took over in the summer. However, the manager has now worked with the entire squad, and looks set to cut some dead weight loose this winter.
Here’s a look at three players Manchester United look ready to offload come January:
The French midfielder was hailed as a clever signing by then manager Louis van Gaal when he arrived from Southampton in the summer of 2015 for a reported £24 million. However, his Old Trafford career has mostly been a frustrating affair.
Schneiderlin was a regular in Louis van Gaal’s United side, but the fact that he was left out of France’s Euro 2016 squad earlier this year shows how bland his performances were.
Many expected that the defensive midfielder could be a prized asset for the pragmatic Mourinho. Instead, he just has the one start for United this season, against Feyenoord in the Europa League, a game that they lost.
In the Premier League, he’s made just three substitute appearances and it looks like Mourinho doesn’t rate the 27-year-old too highly.
Everton and West Brom have emerged as the two front-runners in the race to sign Schneiderlin. While the Baggies have already reportedly made a £18 million bid, the Frenchman could be tempted to rejoin his former Saints manager and current Everton boss Ronald Koeman.
Schneiderlin’s solitary start may tell a tragic tale, but it’s more than what 22-year-old Memphis Depay has got. The Dutch winger was another summer of 2015 arrival, hailed as the heir to Cristiano Ronaldo and handed the No. 7 shirt.
Depay got a good run in the starting set-up after his £25 million arrival from PSV, but disappointing performances saw him being dropped by Van Gaal. Now the situation has further deteriorated under Jose Mourinho.
The Dutchman hasn’t started a single game for the club, and with the likes of Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford all ahead of him in the pecking order, is unlikely to start anytime soon either.
Once again, Merseyside club Everton are one of the favourites to sign Depay this January, with manager Ronald Koeman publicly stating his admiration for his winger. There have also been rumours linking him to the Bundesliga and the Serie A.
The 29-year-old Belgian has somehow managed to earn the trust of all three Manchester United managers he has worked under, namely David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho. He was a prominent feature in United’s early games, but is now a fixture on the bench.
Mourinho has always been full of praise for the Belgian, but this is a sentiment not shared by the Old Trafford faithful. Fellaini is reviled by many United fans, and public opinion about the gangly midfielder will surely have some sort of effect on the club hierarchy.
In addition to this, the Belgian doesn’t have a place in the current starting XI set-up. He’s a naturally attacking player who is usually forced to play in a defensive role alongside Paul Pogba, and the results have often been catastrophic.
The player is fast getting close to his ‘sell-by’ date, and United can ill afford to hold on him till it’s too late. Serie A rivals Internazionale and AC Milan are both reportedly interested in taking the player off their hands, and a January move could well be on the cards.