After a disappointing last quarter to the end of the season, Manchester United boss, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has admitted that some of the players at the club could leave. Having drawn 1-1 with relegated Huddersfield and lost disappointingly to Cardiff City who have also been relegated in their last two matches, the Red Devils finished 6th on the table and are automatically out of Champions League football next season.
Giving a hint at the possibility of exit for some of the players, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer said after the draw with Huddersfield on May 5 “I can’t talk about individuals now but there’s a chance you’ve seen the last of [some] players.”
Also speaking after the Cardiff defeat, he said: “This league is a tough one, no matter who you play, and it’s a long season and towards the end we’ve performed under par.
“The big plus is the season’s over so we put a big line over it and look forward. We know we are too far behind where we want to be, that’s the 98 and 97 points – that’s exceptional from the two teams (City and Liverpool).”
With the season coming to an end last weekend, it’s clear that Solksjaer would want to let go of some of the under-performing players in his squad as he prepares for next season.
So, who could be leaving Manchester United this season?
Here’s a look at some of the players that could be exit the door.
1. Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez has failed to replicate successful time with Arsenal at Manchester United. Earning a reported £500,000-a-week, the Chilean has scored just five goals since moving to Manchester in January 2018 and reports claim United want to get rid of the 30-year-old so badly they are willing to pay half of his salary if he finds a new club. He started for the first time in two months against Huddersfield, but went off injured in the 54th minute, which seemed to sum up his Manchester United career.
After the loss to Cardiff, Alexis posted on Instagram: “It was a very tough season…the fans are the ones who deserve an apology as they always support you no matter what happens. Personally, I didn’t perform as much as I was expecting because of unpredictable injuries,”
2. Romelu Lukaku
With speculations surrounding the future of Lukaku at Old Trafford, the big Belgian has recently come out to admit that it would be ‘a dream’ to play in Serie A. Lukaku, who has been in and out of Manchester United’s starting XI this season, seemed to have fallen out of favour with Solskjaer who prefers to play Marcus Rashford through the middle at times. It would not be a surprise if the striker moves on at the end of the season.
3. Ander Herrera
The Spanish midfielder has confirmed he will be leaving Old Trafford and Paris Saint-Germain are believed to won the race to sign Herrera. Having failed to agree a new contract with Manchester United, the 29-year-old will leave the club with a Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup in his trophy cabinet.
4. Paul Pogba
After initially rediscovering his form under new coach Solskjaer, who replaced Jose Mourinho in December, the Frenchman has not scored from open play since February. Since Zinedine Zidane’s reappointment as Real Madrid boss in March, Pogba is understood to be one of the Spanish club’s top targets this summer.
5. Juan Mata
Mata’s contract expires on June 30 and will be available for free. There are no signs that suggest he is close to extending his stay at Old Trafford, though it has been reported United have offered him a one-year extension. Solskjaer remains hopeful the 31-year-old will stay.
“He’s a fantastic person and a fantastic player,” the manager said. “It’s up to him. I’ve had words with him and he knows how highly I regard him,” adding he will wait to see what happens.
6. Antonio Valencia
Valencia has played just once under Solskjaer due to injury and form. The 33-year-old has been a great servant to the club since signing from Wigan in 2009, winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, two League Cups and the Europa League, with the game against Cardiff being his final game in a United shirt.
Emmanuel Ebimoh is a football writer and media enthusiast, with a special interest in sports and news reporting. He is an editor and writer for 9News Nigeria.