One shy of an even dozen. That is our take on the report that Manchester United has a complete side’s worth of players out of contract at the end of the EPL season.
Let the shopping spree begin.
The eleven who enjoy the prospect of new financial arrangements are Ashley Young, David de Gea, Matteo Darmian, Phil Jones, Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Anthony Martial and Andreas Pereira.
The Manchesters were doing quite well last season and City is back at the top after taking first prize in the competition, but United has slipped to eighth on this year’s ladder, so they might be willing to part ways with some high-priced players, perhaps bring in some youngsters that can do what the veterans do, but on a reduced budget.
Expectations ahead of the season for United have not yet been met, which mainly serves to place pressure on the head of manager Jose Mourinho. He could feel some heat, but his long tenure at the top level would seem to indicate that he could have any job he wants.
Judging from his CV, he might be due for a third stint with Chelsea, should that side suffer enough of a decline to pose a threat to the job security of current first-year manager Maurizio Sarri.
The one player it would seem highest on United’s retention list is de Gea.
He is just 27, soon to be 28, and is United’s number one goalkeeper, one whose statistics show an awful lot of zeros in the goals-allowed column.
De Gea has been named United’s Player of the Year four times. Unless he suddenly loses his stopping abilities, suggestions that he could move to Real Madrid are indications only of an expensive bidding war.
Striker Anthony Martial is the other must-keep player.
He is in a similar position to de Gea, in that he is signed through next season, so both have time to see what the market will bear and whether or not United will give them long-term offers.