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Should Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, Juan Mata and Matteo Darmian have their contracts renewed?

With all of the contract news coming out of Manchester United recently I felt it only prudent to examine which player’s contracts will be expiring in June 2019, at the end of the season, and give my thoughts as to whether or not each player has done enough to warrant a renewal or not.

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Ashley Young

First up, and if you’ve read my previous pieces you’ll know this to be true, is my favourite player Ashley Young. With his contract expiring in June 2019, at the end of the current season, there are reports that he will be renewing his contract soon. Per these reports, he was offered a 12-month extension but wanted a two-year deal, like the one Marouane Fellaini was given, much like Juan Mata. However, if reports are to be believed he will be accepting the 12-month extension instead.

A lot of fans believe Young to be a good squad option and you’ll be surprised to hear there are even some who think he should stay in the first team, which is absolute madness.

I, however, believe he should be shipped out as soon as possible so that other players can take his spot, such as Diogo Dalot and Timothy Fosu-Mensah. If the club needs to keep him for another year just to be sure they have a right back in place who can be relied upon then that is fair, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of other players.

If Young stays then he should most definitely be put to the side and used only if, and when, he is desperately needed. Otherwise he is collecting a wage and taking the spot of someone of higher quality because as sure as the sun rises you can be sure that Young is no longer of the quality that a Manchester United player should be, his legs are gone and his crossing is woeful, he has outstayed his welcome at the club by a good two to three years.

Final Verdict: Do not renew

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Antonio Valencia

Sitting on the opposite side of the pitch to the aforementioned Young is Antonio Valencia, another winger converted into fullback and although he is a few years younger he has admitted to needing ice on his knee every day in order to keep playing the way he does.

Much like Young on the right or left, he is also rather ineffectual on both sides and despite a few moments of brilliance offers very little to the club, especially if they are to move forward and challenge for any titles.

Valencia has not played any minutes since the 2-0 victory over Newcastle United on January 2nd, which was his one and only appearance under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, so you have to wonder if, given there is no injury news, he is being phased out and prepared for release.

Back at the beginning of the season, there were reports that Jose Mourinho was unhappy with Valencia due to the defender putting on weight over the summer break and coming back in poor condition. This, combined with him needing constant icing of his knee, is reason enough for him to no longer pull on a United shirt.

It’s a sad fact that often an older and more experienced player will be kept at a club and have a detrimental impact on younger players who are fitter, healthier and just as capable. It is because of all of this that I believe Valencia should be let go, as if given the choice between only one of him and Young staying at the club until others are ready then Young is the one who should stay, although both should still leave.

With any luck, the club will opt against renewing his contract or taking up the 12-month extension they can trigger, as it will be hard for them to sell him elsewhere and get any kind of fee for him.

Final Verdict: Do Not renew

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Juan Mata

The Spanish playmaker with a heart of gold is next and as I previously mentioned he was offered a 12-month extension on his contract but he wishes to have two years instead. Mata has expressed his desire to stay at the club though and if he really does want to stay then accepting the 12-month extension would be a no brainer right?

Unlike the prior two players I do believe Mata can offer something to the club and he is a good option to have when you need something in the last 10-15 minutes as Mata does have an eye for a pass and he possesses the uncanny ability to be right where he needs to be to come up with a goal every now and then.

The issue with Mata is that he doesn’t offer much in the way of speed and is one of the slowest players at the club, although he used to be fast his legs have also gone. This is a big problem in a team that now likes to play offensive, quick attacking football, he was perfect under Mourinho when the team didn’t need much movement, but now the team needs someone like Jesse Lingard more than they need Mata. This is why he should be a last resort and late game player as he will be more effective when the opposing players are tired.

I do believe that the club should retain Mata as a squad option due to what he can offer and a 12-month extension should be all he gets, again to enable to club time to find someone else to understudy for whoever makes the right side their own.

Final Verdict: Renew, but only for 12 months.

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Matteo Darmian

I’m sure many of you read that name and the first thing that came to mind was, ‘Who?’ because to many supporters it is hard to believe Darmian is still at the club, especially as he always seems to have interest from clubs in Italy. However, it always appears that Manchester United are asking for too much for him and it puts teams off.

With a grand total of 361 minutes of football this season you would be hard pressed to name anything he has done for the team at all in the 2018/19 season. The answer, quite rightfully, is not much.

With the ability to operate as a midfielder and on both sides of defence Darmian is a relic of the Van Gaal era, a time all United fans would like to forget if not for the dull football alone. However, for the last few years, Darmian has always seemed to be used as a left back, which is rather surprising considering his lack of ability to defend.

You may very well be able to see where this is going and that is not to the good place. Darmian is currently 29  years of age and not getting any younger and the only thing he appears to have brought to the club is a pair of awful sideburns that seemed to just exist on the sides of his head without purpose. He is very much a squad player as of now and should be giving up his place for, again, some younger blood.

If the club wants to keep him as backup for the backup on the left or right then it would be better suited getting Darmian off the books and having Demetri Mitchell as the backup instead, someone who has a lot more game time this season, albeit on loan with Hearts.

Darmian, like Valencia, has an option for a further year at the end of the season and should the club wish to they will trigger the option, however, I believe they are best off letting him go because nobody is going to pay anything more than £5 million for him.

Final Verdict: Do not renew

Due to the number of players whose contracts are expiring in June, this will be part one of two.

Written by Craig Holland-Greenfield

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