Manchester United are reportedly prepared to receive offers for up to ten first team players during the January transfer window, but that does not mean business will be conducted. This season, Jose Mourinho has a core team of 27 players, many of which are struggling to establish themselves as a starter for the new manager. Many clubs, both in the Premier League and in Europe will be looking into strengthening their sides ahead of the second half of the season, but United will be looking to do the same thing, should it be possible. So far this season the likes of Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Anthony Martial, Sam Johnstone, Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Ashley Young, Daley Blind and even Marouane Fellaini are not seeing as much action as they may like, but many of them have been trusted by Mourinho in that they have played as rotation options, with Rojo and Darmian the two who have played recently, down to injuries and fitness issues.
Morgan Schneiderlin seems to be a player on the outside of the team, seldom getting a chance, but failing to perform to the levels expected when he gets the chance. The same could be said for Memphis Depay. Ashley Young is a player trusted by Mourinho, but he is not getting any younger and might aspire to head to a smaller club for a chance to play regular football. Daley Blind is a player that I rate highly and he seems to love the club and plays well much of the time, which is good enough for him. He also strengthens the club by being able to play in the centre of defence, as a left-back, or even in a defensive midfield position. He is also a great reader of the game.
Sam Johnstone has been named as the number three goalkeeper, but his only action this season has been during the warm up, or for the U23 side. Johnstone, despite signing a new deal recently, could be subject to interest from the Championship. He does need the chance to go out and cut his teeth away from Old Trafford, whether it be on a permanent deal, or a loan spell away from the club. Matteo Darmian has been linked to many Italian clubs, but Mourinho has so far decided that he will remain at the club, which could very much change should United be alerted that any of their targets were available, which obviously changes everything. Darmian. at this moment in time, will be up against it to become the permanent right-back, especially with the form of Antonio Valencia, but he could challenge Luke Shaw at left-back, a position he has played recently against West Ham United, which could bring out the best of both players.
Marouane Fellaini is a player that does not do much for Manchester United. Yes, he has the height aspect, but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Chris Smalling and even Paul Pogba in the team, that is no longer something that sets him aside. He is physical but often looks like a red card waiting to happen. He does try his best, but it really is not good enough. He should have never been the signing made by David Moyes in the summer of 2013, we were promised much better players, since then, much better players have arrived. Mourinho does seem to value Fellaini, but I don’t think he would keep him over other players, I also don’t see him leaving until at least the summer as wholesale changes in January are not all that likely, and could well be damaging to the club, even more so than the damage already caused over the last three years.
Anthony Martial is a player that I was surprised to see linked to an exit, and I just see it as media speculation as the player is out of form, not taking chances to snap out of the decline and in the limelight in the fact that the media were shown up for criticising the players transfer from AS Monaco in the summer of 2015. I don’t think United are going to give up on a player such as Martial and the fact he is hotly tipped to be the next big thing. Under Louis van Gaal he was great, but Mourinho plays a different kind of football, one which means players will need to learn, especially players lacking experience, like Martial.
Marcos Rojo is also a player tipped to leave the club. Since both Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling have been injured, Phil Jones has stepped back into the limelight, playing some good defensive football, partnering both Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo, who have both played well and looked solid at times. I feel that Rojo could have something to offer at United, but with Mourinho looking at players such as Victor Lindelof, maybe others, there will always be speculation linking players to other clubs. The fact Manchester United is mentioned, or even any of the players currently at the club, adds to the speculations, allowing the media to sell their stories, clubs to heighten their profiles and look like they are looking to make it to the big time.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is a player that has been out in the cold for much of the season, returning to training earlier in the month, then back into the matchday squad, possible into the starting XI, or even as a used substitute. This could mean the door is open for the player to prove himself, or the door was opened to put the player in the shop window ahead of a move away from the club in January, or even in the summer. Schweinsteiger is linked to the MLS and has previously said United will be his last European team, so the speculation surrounding the German is to be believed, but whether he leaves or not, will be the question.
I think United will be braced for offers but the chances on many players leaving the club in January, with few or none coming to the club, will be very slim. Many clubs will always try to better their teams in any transfer window, but if United are unable to strengthen, I doubt weakening the squad will be an option.