Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has insisted that defensive trio Phil Jones, Brandon Williams and Axel Tuanzebe would remain at the Old Trafford club this summer. There was also speculation that Chelsea would try and lure Harry Maguire to Stamford Bridge.
For the past two matches, the 2-1 victory over Liverpool and the 1-0 victory over Southampton, Maguire has been benched, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez putting is fantastic displays, solidifying their defensive partnership.
It was expected this summer that some of the deadwood at the club would be sold but both Williams and Tuanzebe have been injured and Jones has not trained with the first team all summer. It seems certain that the 30-year-old has no future at the club.
Jones, 30, signed for United from Blackburn Rovers 11 years ago and despite the experience he has, injury has plagued his career and he has found it hard to re-establish himself at the club. It was expected that on recovering from a two-year knee injury, he would be out the door this summer.
That does not seem to be the case though. Jones had been linked to MLS side DC United, now manager by former teammate Wayne Rooney, but nothing seems to have happened regarding that speculation. Whether the offer was rejected by the player is not known.
It is unfortunate for the player, who was once suggested that Jones ‘could be United’s best ever player.’ His current contract expires in the summer of 2023, although there is the option of another year. Jones has made 229 appearances for United, scoring six goals and 11 assists.
Williams, 21, is perhaps the only player that could be worth something to United this season, once he has recovered from injury. Coming through the clubs academy, there is a pedigree there. He was linked to Brighton and Hove Albion this summer with some touting a £15 million fee.
The right footed left-back is contracted at United until the summer of 2024 so has a good chance to play himself into Ten Hag’s plans this season, shoed he get the chance. Obviously, Tyrell Malacia is leading the way in the left-back position, starting the last two matches.
Luke Shaw has his place in the squad to lose, especially if Williams gets the chance to show what he can do, ousting the experienced left-back from second-choice. Of course, Ten Hag could play him in the right-back position. He’s made 50 appearances for United, scoring one goal and three assists.
Tuanzebe, 24, perhaps has the most to lose this summer. He travelled on the pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia but suffered an injury and returned to Manchester with Will Fish replacing him. The defender has not yet recovered from his injury.
Now that Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez have formed a solid partnership over the last two matches, Tuanzebe has his work cut out for him to break into the first team. He is currently behind Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and even Teden Mengi.
A product of the academy, once highly rated, he has fallen from grace with many failed loan spells and despite making 37 appearances for United, it would seem it is the end of the road for him with is current contract coming to an end in the summer of 2023.
Written by John Walker