April 23, 2021

Man Utd

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The Manchester United players at a crucial career crossroads this summer

4 min read

Attentions have been fixed firmly on who could arrive at Old Trafford this summer, but several names could still be playing for their Manchester United future.

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer has proven to be ruthless when it comes to sanctioning moves away from the club.

Indeed, during his spell as United manager so far, Inter Milan duo Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku are among the high-profiles players to have been moved on.

Meanwhile, other departures include Chris Smalling (Roma) and Ander Herrera (Paris Saint-Germain) as United strive to build a squad capable of challenging for a first Premier League title post-Sir Alex Ferguson.

Here, we take a closer look at six players who could soon be at a crossroads in their respective careers;

David de Gea

There is no doubt about it, the Spanish goalkeeper could lay claim to being one of the best in the world at his peak – but are those days behind him?

Academy graduate Dean Henderson has emerged as first choice at Old Trafford over the last few weeks – which has in turn led to future question marks over de Gea’s future.

Amid reported interest from La Liga, namely Atletico Madrid and city rivals Real Madrid, the stopper has plenty left to offer someone at just 30-years-old.

On the back of Henderson’s progression, though, is that more likely to come elsewhere? In any case, he wouldn’t be expected to stick around for too long as second choice – for the good of his own career.

Eric Bailly

When the Ivorian has featured under Solskjaer, he has generally impressed, offering United different qualities to the regular centre-back pairing of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.

However, appearances have proved few and far between this term – with just eight coming in the Premier League.

Amid transfer links with the likes of Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane and Brighton talent Ben White, there are indications as to where Solksjaer wants to strengthen during the summer transfer window.

A long-term partner for £80million captain Maguire has regularly been mooted, which could reduce Bailly to being a fourth choice option at centre-back. His contract expires in 2022, too.

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Juan Mata

A player with undeniable technical quality, there has never been a guaranteed berth for him at Old Trafford, on the back of a move from Chelsea in 2014.

Mata is approaching the end of his current deal at Old Trafford, although there is an option held by the club if they wish to extend his stay by a further 12 months.

With just seven appearances so far in the Premier League this season, it seems probable that the popular Spaniard could be entering his final days in United colours.

In a similar way to compatriot and former Manchester City playmaker David Silva last summer, will he be lured by a return to his homeland next season?

Donny van de Beek

On the subject of crossroads… enter the curious case of Dutch midfielder van de Beek.

He was widely-regarded as one of the brightest talents in Europe when United paid £35million to Ajax to sign the latest in a long line of prospects developed on their famed production line.

However, it’s been a largely frustrating start to life in England for the midfielder, who has started only two Premier League games amid debunked reports that the 23-year-old wants to return to Amsterdam this summer.

Van de Beek should stick it out at Old Trafford into next season, but the spotlight will continue on him as he bids to overhaul the competition and cement a place in United’s star-studded engine room.


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Dan James

A summer arrival from Championship side Swansea City in 2019 – for a fee around the £15million – there is no doubt James has the ability to succeed in the Premier League.

The 23-year-old has shown glimpses of that ability at Old Trafford, too, without being able to hold down that much talked about right-side forward position.

Jadon Sancho and Leeds United star Raphinha are two reported targets in that role.

Without discounting his long-term future with United, he might be well-served in looking to follow in the footsteps of Jesse Lingard, perhaps, in pursuing a loan move elsewhere next season?

Anthony Martial

His future at Old Trafford may not be in doubt per say, but speculation continues to mount over high-profile targets such as England captain Harry Kane and Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Should the club manage to land one of those two big-money strikers, Martial would be consigned to a back-up role – or find himself in one of the wider positions.

He was a notable absentee from the France squad that won the World Cup in 2018.

But having returned to the international scene since then, the 25-year-old won’t be wanting to give up his club spot without a fight as he hopes to launch his own charge for international honours.

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