There is a lot of positivity around Old Trafford at the moment. Manchester United, who beat Crystal Palace this week to extend their unbeaten run to 19 games in all competitions, may be sitting in fifth place in the Premier League table, but they are level with Leicester City on points, and just one behind third-placed Chelsea. As such, their fate is in their own hands regarding a place in next season’s Champions League, especially since they play Leicester on the last day of the season. Win their remaining two games, and the Red Devils will return to Europe’s premier club competition.
However, while things may seem to be going well at the moment, the upcoming transfer window will be crucial in terms of shaping United’s ambitions next season. If the club want to be able to challenge Liverpool and Manchester City for the title, they need to get a few more top-quality players in. The current first XI is capable of beating any team on their day, but the players on the bench are not as good, meaning that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer always runs the risk of a drop in quality when he rotates his squad. That is not to say that those players are bad, just that some of them are still young and developing, while others are past their prime, and quite a few were never good enough to begin with. Thus, while bringing in players is important, it is also equally important to be able to sell some of these names who are not at the level that United need. This is also important from a financial standpoint; the COVID-19 crisis has created a lot of uncertainty in the world, and with no fans in attendance for next season as well, revenue will take a hit. Thus, United need to be able to recoup some decent transfer fees in order to be able to better afford the likes of Jadon Sancho.
Thus, if the best football tips are to be believed, the club are set to let go of as many as six first-team players. The likes of Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Alexis Sanchez, Marcos Rojo and Jesse Lingard could all be sold. United currently have seven centre-backs on their books, and definitely need to trim numbers in that area of the pitch. Smalling and Rojo are on loan at AS Roma and Estudiantes respectively and thus are expected to leave the club on permanent deals in the summer, while Jones has barely had a look-in this season. Dalot has seen his right-back spot usurped by Aaron Wan-Bissaka, while he is unable to get in at left-back either, even when both Brandon Williams and Luke Shaw are unavailable. Bruno Fernandes’ arrival and superb form, as well as Mason Greenwood’s emergence, have eliminated any opportunities that Lingard might have had. Finally, Sanchez’s United career never really got going, and while has recently been showing flickers of his old self on loan at Inter Milan, it is unlikely that he will be asked to stick around for next season.
Selling all these players would be difficult due to the massive wages that some of them are on, especially Sanchez. However, United need to clear out the deadwood to make space for some of the new talent they are looking to bring in.