Jose Mourinho was tasked with clearing the masses of deadwood left by the last three managers at Manchester United, and while he bought some excellent acquisitions in the transfer market, he failed to clear out the squad in the limited summer time frame. Now, though, matters are a little bit clearer, and moving into the new year and transfer market, big decisions need to be made. Certain players at United haven’t been cutting the grade and are likely to be leaving the club this window, to make room for new acquisitions and youth talents. Here are seven players likely to depart United in the next year, and the players I believe should replace them.
One of my favourite players, Schneiderlin’s lack of success under Jose Mourinho has been quite disappointing. Mourinho revealed that the Frenchman asked to leave the club before United’s win over Sunderland, and BBC believes Everton manager Ronald Koeman, who managed Southampton during Schneiderlin’s last year with the Saints, could lure Morgan to Goodison Park.
Replacement: Sean Goss
Manchester United has a lot of midfielders in the ranks, and none seem fit to replace Carrick. Nobody in the transfer market is available, so I’ve selected Sean Goss to be Carrick’s deputy in defensive midfield until he is either proven insufficient or a good replacement. If Toni Kroos or Ivan Rakitic becomes available, the situation could easily change.
Manchester United signed Memphis Depay in 2015, with the hope he could replace the unfortunate failures of Angel di Maria by replicating his Eredivisie form. Failing to do that and earn a place in the side, it now seems likely that United will accept their losses on the Dutchman, and though I strongly believe it is the wrong decision, a deal taking the winger to Everton seems to be likely.
Replacement: Andreas Pereira
Pereira has been a shining light for one of the worst sides in La Liga, Granada, earning a goal and an assist from a defensive left-wing position. He could be worth a chance at United, especially considering Memphis has been more of a squad player in his time at United.
Often a good defender for Manchester United, it seems Darmian doesn’t suit the system, because he doesn’t offer the attacking prowess to replace Antonio Valencia or Daley Blind. Now, he seems to be blocking the pecking order for the likes of Joe Riley and Timothy Fosu-Mensah to replace him, and he could be on his way out as a result in 2017 if he doesn’t step it up.
Replacement: Nelson Semedo, Benfica
The Portuguese attacking fullback looks likely to join United, as reported by multiple sources. I personally think Joe Riley and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson could be good enough for United’s current needs, but Mourinho seems to think otherwise.
While Young has done nothing to lose his place, United’s attacking options are so deep that the Englishman has spent more time playing fullback. While Mourinho has stated on multiple occasions that he loves Young’s spirit, he will turn 32 next year, and he could be blocking the place for another natural winger to come into the side.
Replacement: Felipe Anderson, Lazio
Anderson has been linked to United in the past, but the rumours have never materialized. However, Young’s position as a natural winger is very difficult to replace these days. While Anderson isn’t quite the same type of player, WhoScored highlights crossing as one of his strengths. Anderson completes 1.5 crosses every game, and can use both feet.
Jose Mourinho made it clear from the beginning that Schweinsteiger doesn’t have a place in the squad, and while Rui Faria gave him a cameo in the EFL Cup, he seems likely to leave the club. Chicago Fire seemed to be close to striking a deal with the German legend, but going into the new year, nothing has been announced.
United has far too many options in midfield already, and perhaps Timothy Fosu-Mensah could be given a chance in Schweinsteiger’s place, because he seems to have promise as a central midfielder.
This one seems a little bit harsh, but the emergence of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, combined with the likely arrival of Victor Lindelof, means a defender will likely be leaving the club. Smalling seems the most likely, as he is erratic defensively, useless on the ball and has struggled in every United side that isn’t defensively oriented. Smalling could yet prove me wrong, though.
Replacement: Victor Lindelof, Benfica
While I personally believe Aymeric Laporte is the perfect player for United, Mourinho seemed set to sign Swedish defender Victor Lindelof, from Benfica. It seems a little bit strange for Mourinho to approach a defender from an unproven league, especially considering his only proven attribute is passing. But at this moment in time, reports suggest otherwise so the jury might still be out on whether United will be signing a defender in the next transfer window.
First of all, Marouane Fellaini isn’t a horrible player, but he simply isn’t suited to playing for most large clubs. With smaller sides that allow him to be the focal point, he can cause plenty of problems. Mourinho seems to be phasing him out of the side, and he was spotted in Italy not too long ago, fuelling Serie A rumours.
Replacement: Naby Keita
Emerging as one of the best prospects in the Bundesliga, Naby Keita is a productive creator of goals in the German top flight at just 21 years of age. Keita, thriving for RB Leipzig with their quick, passing football, could be the perfect player to complement and back up Paul Pogba for United’s midfield, while offering the same physical imposition that would be missed without Pogba and Fellaini.
The Englishman has endured a psychological journey under Jose Mourinho that has seen him out of the side, though in rotation, he has produced glimpses of the player he used to be. That being said, he is in the top five best paid players in football, and would be holding back other players by sitting on the bench. Just two goals from breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s Manchester United goal scoring record, this season could be the perfect time for Rooney to call it quits, perhaps picking up a Europa League, EFL Cup and/or FA Cup to bid farewell.
Replacement: Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid
The big one. Griezmann has been lining up all the cards for a move to Manchester United, and he’s a truly spectacular player. From press conferences in which he claims he frequents United conversation with Pogba, saying they’d love to play together one day, and his brother loving Manchester United, it seems clear at this point that Griezmann could be on his way to Old Trafford. We certainly hope so; he was arguably the best player in the world in 2016.