There are many things that you can accuse José Mourinho of, but being indecisive in the transfer market is not one of them. As we saw last summer, the Manchester United boss likes to identify his targets and secure key signings as early as possible.
This time around, the former Chelsea and Real Madrid coach is reportedly operating with a £200million budget as the Red Devils aim to build on their 2016/17 Europa League success to become Premier League title challengers once again.
As is always the case, dozens of the continent’s best and brightest are being labelled as Manchester United transfer targets, but the reality is that Mourinho will have a clear picture of the players he wants and will make a handful or additions rather than sweeping changes.
That will, however, impact some of the players already at his disposal, with room in the squad and on the wage budget needing to be freed up for the newcomers. A mass Old Trafford exodus is not expected this summer but a few familiar names are facing uncertain futures.
Out until the new year with a cruciate knee ligament injury, it has already been announced that United will not be taking up their option of a second year with last season’s top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Here are four other players who might be on their way out.
With Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, EFL Cup and Europa League winners’ medals to his name and having etched himself into the history books as United’s all-time record goal-scorer, Wayne Rooney has nothing left to prove at Old Trafford.
A first-team regular at top-flight and international level since his mid-teens, the hard miles have begun to take a toll on the 31-year-old England captain and he now looks a shadow of the vibrant and dynamic player he once was.
Rooney was forced to accept a reduced role with the 20-time champions last term, used infrequently as a starter and often featuring as a substitute late in games.
With United reportedly on the verge of signing Álvaro Morata from Real Madrid, it seems almost certain that the former Everton star, who moved to the red side of Manchester as an 18-year-old in 2004, will be playing his football elsewhere next season, with a return to the Toffees mooted.
Other options include China or Major League Soccer and, on the basis of this season’s performances, it looks as though Rooney’s days of being able to operate in the Premier League are well and truly over.
Another area of his squad that Mourinho has earmarked for improvement is central defence. Eric Bailly was signed from Villarreal for £30million last summer and has impressed in his first campaign in England, but the Ivory Coast international lacks a top-class partner.
Benfica’s ball-playing Swedish centre-back Victor Lindelöf is said to have been identified as United’s top target for the role and England international Chris Smalling is the man most likely to make way for him.
Smalling remains a commanding presence in the air but he is error-prone which frustrates supporters. On top of that his apparent technical deficiencies seem to point to him not quite having the requisite skills to instigate attacking moves from the back, as is so desired of defenders in the modern game.
Mourinho publicly criticised 21-year-old left-back Luke Shaw on several occasions last season, leading to widespread rumours that the manager had lost patience with the former Southampton man and would look to offload him at the end of the campaign.
Shaw managed to claw his way back into the boss’ good books as the season drew to a close but an injury in the final weeks seemed only to frustrate Mourinho even more.
Still so young, it would be a shame if United were to give up on Shaw. The England international clearly has talent and with the right guidance he could become one of the best in the world in his position.
The Manchester United boss is looking to strengthen this summer.
Posted by Football Whispers on Tuesday, April 4, 2017
A year ago it would have been impossible to believe that Anthony Martial faced anything other than a bright future at Old Trafford. Signed from Monaco as a teenager on deadline day in 2015, the French forward electrified the United faithful with a stunning solo goal against Liverpool on his debut.
He went on to become the star of an otherwise drab campaign under Louis van Gaal, scoring 17 goals and playing a major part in the club’s 12th FA Cup triumph.
However, Martial has struggled to replicate the form which made him a hit in his maiden Premier League season and Mourinho is thought to have grown frustrated with the 21-year-old’s inconsistency and work ethic.
The Independent claim that, while United are not actively seeking to sell Martial this summer, a sizeable offer could persuade them to part ways with the youngster. Rumoured interest in 28-year-old Inter Milan winger Ivan Perišić may also give a clear indication of Mourinho‘s lack of faith in the Frenchman.