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Now is the time to be rid of the ‘dead wood’

It appears Manchester United may be in for a busy summer transfer window, with reports suggesting Jose Mourinho will be looking to strengthen in midfield and defence. However, it is also important that the revolving door cannot be a one-way street. If Mourinho intends to mount a serious title challenge next season, getting rid of some rotation players is necessary.

One of the players who Mourinho should be looking to move on is Matteo Darmian. Having made only five Premier League starts this season, it is hardly surprising that the Italian is assessing his future. It seems relatively clear that he will return to his homeland, with reports suggesting a deal with Juventus is virtually done. Although Mourinho has insisted the 28-year old is part of his plans, he has become a bit part player at the club, which has resulted in him missing out on the matchday squad altogether on various occasions this season.

Whilst he offers versatility at either full-back, both Axel Tuanzebe and Timothy Fosu-Mensah are equally as versatile and would be better suited to filling this role as young, developing players. The Italian has never really established himself as a regular in his three-year spell with the club, and it would suit both parties if he does complete the move to Juventus.

Another player whose opportunities have dried up significantly is Daley Blind. Like Darmian, he has not had a guaranteed place in the matchday squad this season. Whilst the Dutchman has excellent qualities, his lack of pace means he is often exposed at full-back and Mourinho prefers to have a big physical presence in front of the back four, something Blind doesn’t really offer. Given this, it would not be surprising to see Blind follow Darmian to Serie A, with reports suggesting there is interest from Roma and Inter Milan.

It appears Mourinho intends to sign at least one midfielder this summer, which means Blind will only fall further down the pecking order. Consequently, offloading him would be a good move for the player, who should get greater playing time elsewhere, and the club, as it will free up space for a new midfielder without damaging the career prospects of Scott McTominay.

One player whose future doesn’t as clearly lie elsewhere is Phil Jones. The Lancastrian centre-half was signed from Blackburn Rovers by Sir Alex Ferguson, who famously said Jones could go on to be as good as club legend Duncan Edwards. Although Jones has shown glimpses of excellence throughout his United career, his tendency to make a rash mistake means that comparison has never materialised.

Whilst he is nearly always in the matchday squad when fit, many United fans justifiably feel Eric Bailly and the ever-improving Victor Lindelof warrant a place more than Jones. To his credit, Jones has managed to make it to England’s squad for the World Cup, but so has John Stones, who has become Manchester City’s fourth choice centre-back this season. This illustrates the gap which exists between the two clubs at this moment.

With reports suggesting United may well be in for Toby Alderweireld as his contract nears the end, Jones may have made one mistake too many. Though he was left isolated when one on one with Eden Hazard in the FA Cup final against Chelsea, rash tackles like that which resulted in Chelsea’s penalty demonstrate why he is not quite good enough to be in a side challenging for the title.

Although Chris Smalling was one of United’s better performers in the final and is not as rash as Jones, his lack of ability when on the ball are a reason why he too might be considered as one of the players to leave this summer. This weakness is one which has certainly damaged his international chances, with Gareth Southgate citing that as the reason for his exclusion from previous England squads.

Clearly, a busy summer lies ahead for United.

Written by Rob Potter

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