Manchester United’s Fringe Players: Keep or Sell?

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United and Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on May 21, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)

With Jose Mourinho’s first term in charge of Manchester United finished, a massive summer lies ahead for the Portugese tactician. Mourinho decided against making any additions during the January transfer window, meaning he knows the current squad’s intricacies inside and out. Names like Pogba, Bailly and Rashford can be confident of their places in the upcoming years. However, players on the fringe of the starting line-up should start considering their futures.

Manchester United Fringe Players: Keep or Sell?

Just as he did with Chelsea, Mourinho will attempt an overhaul to build a squad capable of challenging for every available trophy. Mourinho seems to favour the 4-2-3-1 formation, and will spend the summer approaching players who fit this system.

The current Manchester United squad is scarce on positional depth, resulting in a nervous summer for many players. Flush with footballers who lack the attributes Mourinho deems necessary to succeed in their role, decision day is coming for those who don’t quite fit in.

Phil Jones: Sell

When Manchester United signed Jones for 16.5 million pounds in 2011, they thought they had a special talent. The reality, however, is quite the contrary. Currently behind Bailly, Smalling and Rojo (all presumed healthy) at centre-back for United, Jones never developed as expected.

What Jones is missing in passing ability and decision-making, he compensates for in speed and courage. He would provide a good option for a mid-table Premier League side if he can stay healthy. United should cash in while Jones is having his best run of football in recent memory.

Luke Shaw: Sell

This past season has been one to forget for Luke Shaw. His injury woes have continued, coupled with his public blow-outs with Mourinho mean it is time for Shaw to move on. Since joining the Red Devils, Shaw’s commitment, weight and attitude have all come into question.

The best course of action is to get himself out of Old Trafford’s spotlight, and get his head on straight.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah: Keep

Fosu-Mensah saw his Manchester United career take off under Louis van Gaal, but was reduced to the odd substitute appearance under Jose Mourinho. Even with this being the case, it is essential that the young Dutchman remains a Red Devil.

If Fosu-Mensah continues to progress, his versatility will be very beneficial down the road. He possesses the composure to keep the ball and play a pass, along with the tenacity and grit to tackle hard. This skillset will allow Fosu-Mensah to ultimately play defensive midfield, centre-back and right-back in the years to come.

Juan Mata: Sell

Although controversial, Manchester United should sell Juan Mata this summer. A fan favourite at every club he plays for, there is seemingly no reason for Mata to leave. However, this matter is purely business.

Mata was one of Manchester United’s best this season and has seemingly rectified past issues with Jose Mourinho. The 29-year-old is coming off a good season, and Mata is Manchester United’s best chance to earn a decent transfer fee. The potential signing of James Rodriguez would also see Mata fall down the depth chart, and a player of his guild shouldn’t be coming off the bench.

Ashley Young: Keep

This season has seen Ashley Young develop into Jose Mourinho’s every-man. Having lost the pace and game-changing ability that saw him join United, Young has done well to adapt. Over the recent years, Young has had stints at full-back, wing-back and attacking midfield.

He received a string of starts at multiple positions this season, when Mourinho was looking for players who bring consistency to the team. If Young accepts his role and continues to be a consummate professional, he will very important in the coming seasons.

Wayne Rooney: Sell

As painful as it is, it is time for Rooney to leave Manchester United. He has been their talisman for well over a decade, yet all good things come to an end. The 2016-17 campaign saw Rooney break Sir Bobby Charlton’s goal record, as well as complete his trophy collection with the UEFA Europa League.

Now, while he has reason to celebrate, is the perfect time for the English international to depart. Rooney is just shy of 32 years old, meaning he theoretically has some good football left in him. In addition, if Rooney leaves now he can remain in the Premier League rather than a desperate move to Major League Soccer or China. It would also give Manchester United some income instead of a free transfer.

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