Manchester United have built a good depth within their squad in almost every position under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, Ole has spent almost two years in charge at Old Trafford and his selection policy has shown there are a few players that are not a part of his plans anymore.
Apart from the ones on the fringes, there are players that Manchester United would benefit from offloading, financially and culturally, even though they might have immense quality and are on their day, world-class footballers.
Let us look at five such names that should be on Ole’s and the Board’s mind as ones to move from their books in January.
On his day, Eric Bailly is a tough man to beat. The Ivorian is arguably, the second-best central defender at Manchester United in terms of on-field authority and presence at the back. However, his inconsistency and continuous battles with fitness issues have seen him fail to be a regular since his first season at the club under Jose Mourinho.
Bailly will have just one year left on his deal in the summer and while Bailly is a good defender, Manchester United are now out of the Champions League and Ole would benefit from giving Teden Mengi and Axel Tuanzebe more of a runout in the Europa League.
It would be prudent for Bailly to be allowed to leave in search of regular football, especially with several clubs looking to facilitate his return to La Liga.
If Bailly needs to be offloaded in January, Phil Jones should leave pronto. The English international hasn’t played a single minute of first-team football this season and doesn’t seem to be anywhere near to getting some under his belt in the near future. Jones has also been linked with a move within the Premier League but his wages could prove to be a stumbling block.
The English international has been a wonderful player for Manchester United but never managed to live up to his potential and hype from when he was signed by Sir Alex Ferguson from Blackburn. Inconsistent and unfit, Phil Jones will have to find a new club if he wants to play first-team football again.
While Manchester United would look to sell him outright in January, they might have to do with a loan deal that moves some money off the wage bill.
A move that was going to materialise in the near future anyway, but has been accelerated due to some audacious comments coming at an inopportune timing from his agent Mino Raiola. Sir Alex Ferguson let Pogba leave due to Raiola’s involvement back when the player was a youngster, citing the super-agent as a ‘virus’ and his words have come true once again.
Ole did choose to start Pogba in the Manchester derby during the weekend but there has been a furore within the fans, with increasing calls for the French international to be offloaded as soon as possible. Perhaps, Pogba’s departure would make room for Donny van de Beek to be inculcated into the starting eleven on a more regular basis, which would further please the fans.
Pogba has often spoken of his desire to leave Manchester United in the future and in the wake of Raiola’s comments, it would be prudent to offload him with 18 months left on his contract. The Red Devils cannot afford to let this saga run till the summer, which would allow Raiola to hold the club hostage with the prospect of losing Pogba for free.
Juventus, Real Madrid, PSG or some other club; Manchester United should not be bothered by the stature or name of the club that comes in with a bid as long as it’s not someone from within the Premier League.
The number 10 spot seems so saturated at the moment. Bruno Fernandes commands the role with intensity along with a handsome return to show for his efforts. Ole has chosen to, at times, rest the Portuguese and start Donny van de Beek in that role. Lingard has moved down the pecking order, perhaps due to his injury.
However, the English international does not seem to have a future at Manchester United anymore. January might be the perfect time for him to secure a move to another Premier League club, with several outfits to delve into the transfer market to reinforce to maintain or improve their position.
Lingard has been a loyal player but did hire Raiola at one point to secure a move elsewhere. While he is no more seeking a move through Raiola, Lingard deserves game time and will likely accept a move to another Premier League club to secure the same.
The Welsh speedster had a wonderful debut campaign in a Manchester United shirt in the 2019/20 season. However, his influence on the pitch regressed towards the end of the season and James seems to have lost his place in the squad this season. James has, to his horror, completed the journey from being a regular to an afterthought in the Matchday squad under Ole.
Facundo Pellistri is already being talked about as a player who will likely make the step up this season after having impressed since arriving at Old Trafford in the summer window. Amad Traore is due to arrive in January and is likely to either take Pellistri’s place in the Under-23s as the Uruguayan is promoted or be included straight into the first-team setup.
James is only going to go down the pecking order at Manchester United and as much as the Welsh international is ready to fight for places at Old Trafford, it might be in his best interests to depart the club. The Red Devils have seen a couple of clubs be interested in James since the summer and might just look to move him on with as minimal a loss as possible if any at all.
This is a move that has been forced due to new competitors for his place in the Matchday squad, with James no closer to regaining his place right now.