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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to rebuild Manchester United but who of the current players are good enough to stay?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a massive task ahead of him as the manager of Manchester United. There will need to be another rebuild of the club, the fourth if you will in the six years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season. Solskjaer will have seen that there are capable players at the club but many who are not good enough to remain at this club.

During the past six years, United has spent upwards of £700 million on players, many of whom are no longer at the club with question marks on others, who are nearing the end of their contracts at the Theatre of Dreams. There are, however, some players that should be retained at the club, which could help United in the task of finding their feet once again.

David De Gea: One bad season does not make him a bad goalkeeper. The Spanish number one loves it at United and needs to stay both for the club and himself but he needs assurances because of the state of the club.

David De Gea has been at United since the summer of 2011 when Sir Alex Ferguson signed him from Atletico Madrid to replace Edwin van der Sar. After a season and a half of errors, the Spanish goalkeeper found his feet and started on his quest to become one of the best goalkeepers in the world. De Gea has done well at the club for years, winning four of the last five Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year awards.

This season has been one to forget for him but it should not be a season which defines him. De Gea had the final year added onto his current contract at the club, meaning he will not be a free agent this summer. However, speculation has been rife both for him signing a new contract at United and him leaving. United need to ensure the former happens and De Gea is retained. Replacing De Gea will be costly. Liverpool had to spend £66.9 million on Allison Becker and Chelsea had to spend £71.6 million on Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Victor Lindelof: Two seasons at United and he has stepped up to the plate. The emergence of the Swede, even at times of poor form, shows him in the right light.

Former United manager Jose Mourinho signed Victor Lindelof from Benfica for £30.8 million, with the player becoming the most expensive defender in the history of the club. After a rather poor first season, Lindelof has emerged as one of the best defenders at the club this season, putting in the shifts needed in all competitions. The Swedish international has grown in confidence and should be part of the rebuild this summer. Finding a capable defensive partner for his is much-needed.

Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have both signed new contracts and the club this year but that does not mean they are both good enough to take United back to the top. The pair have been at United since 2010 and 2011 respectively and have never really emerged as anything other than squad players. I would have liked to have seen Lindelof and Eric Bailly form a partnership. The Ivorian had a good first season at the club, followed by a good second season, if not a bit rash at times, but tailed off this season.

Paul Pogba: His talent suggests he should be built around but only if his attitude can match his talent. It is important to want to play for this club, if you do not want it, it just will not work!

Paul Pogba returned to United in the summer of 2016 for a fee of £89 million. In his first season, United won the EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League. The club won nothing in his second season but during the summer of 2018, Pogba helped France win the FIFA World Cup with his leadership, at least in the dressing room, a positive from that feat. At United though, Pogba is a different player. He has not been inspiring himself let alone his teammates and that is a worry. Pogba has the talent at his feet to become one of the greats at this club but all that matters here is whether he wants that.

Instead, he seems to be flirting with Real Madrid which has caused a lot of speculation, some of which has been damaging. Recently, Pogba has admitted that he needs to do better and needs to emerge as a leader in a team lacking one, however, he did not do that at the first opportunity, which was against Manchester City earlier in the week. If Pogba sorted his head and his priorities out, he would become the player that United needs, however, he could become another high profile player to exit the club after things became tough.

Marcus Rashford: The England striker has the pace and the ability but may need to focus on club achievements rather than his own appearance!

Ever since his emergence under Louis Van Gaal in the Europa League against Midtjylland when Anthony Martial suffered an injury in the warm-up, Marcus Rashford has been one of the inspiring talents at the Old Trafford club. The 21-year-old has now played 167 times for the club, scoring 45 goals, which is some feat. He’s not the clinical striker that United needs but he is moving in the right direction to achieve that, which is a good sign. United need to ensure they keep him at the club.

Personally, I feel that some of these modern footballers are becoming egos before they have earned the right to have one. The modern structure which sees players having ever-increasing wages is something that is not going to be able to be sustained on the long-term and it also creates cul-de-sacs for players as other clubs are unable to pay wages, therefore meaning that some footballers only stay at clubs for wages. Players need to be at clubs to achieve their dreams not to fund their bank accounts.

Anthony Martial: The Frenchman has bags of talent and ability but needs to overcome his ‘can’t be bothered’ attitude to kick on and make something of himself.

Almost four years ago, Anthony Martial arrived at the Theatre of Dreams as a player that cost £36 million and did not have a reputation that would underline the fee Louis van Gaal paid for the former AS Monaco forward. This resulted in the English media, who do not seem to give anyone a chance to build on something, suggesting that Martial was a ‘waste of money‘. Martial has played 173 times for United, scoring 48 goals. It should be a lot more than that if he applied himself and performed the majority of the time.

Martial has bags of talent but seems to be selective as to when the talent is utilised. He has a reputation as a sulker and has been branded the Nicolas Anelka 2.0 at times. If Martial inspired himself to perform to the best of his abilities, as he should be doing as a club of United’s stature, he would be one of the best players in the world. It is hard to believe that Martial was considered to be one of the best talents at Monaco. Another Monaco player, Kylian Mbappe, has outshone Martial massively. If Martial performs to the best of his abilities 100% of the time, he would be a player to build around. That will be the challenge that should be set for him.

There is a lot of experience at United but it is largely not those players that the club should be built around. If you build around ageing players, the rebuild will be out of date pretty quickly unless you can get players to replace those who are ageing. These players are important and should be involved in the rebuild, however not intrinsic to it. Players such as Juan Mata and even Nemanja Matic would be good to retain as part of a rebuild.

Some will wonder why, which is where this explanation comes in. Both players are winners and have won trophies, whether league titles and domestic cups (Matic) or domestic cups and European cups, even a World Cup (Mata). Having this kind of experience in the squad will be great for younger players. There needs to be a balance in terms of age, ability and experience. Players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who only spent a year and a half at the club, are useful too. The Swede had experience, talent and was a leader, something United is still lacking today, just over a year since he left.

For United to rebuild, it is important for Solskjaer to keep the players that have the talent to be a major part of the team; De Gea, Lindelof, Pogba, Rashford and Martial, and if any of those leave the club in the summer, ensuring that players of a similar talent are brought in. It is also important to keep players who will help the squad bind as a team and gel, ones who have experience but may not play a major part on the pitch. That, along with new recruits and a blooding of youth, could do wonders for this team. Each and every player will need to become accountable for themselves, their failures and their motivation. Which might be difficult.

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