Mon. Jan 18th, 2021

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United want SIX fringe players out in January, saving £410k a week… but where could they go?

10 min read

January could be a huge month for Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who find themselves challenging right at the top of the Premier League table.

While many expected them to be battling it out for a Europa League spot, United have been one of the surprise packages of the season – meaning that the winter transfer window is perhaps even more imperative for the club.

Recent reports claim that Solskjaer has a list of six fringe players that he wants to offload before the end of the month – transfers and loans that could free up a hefty portion of money to be spent on incoming talent.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look at what the next moves could be for each of the six players – and what United might do with the money they are set to recoup… 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United are flying high but there could be some big exits in January

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United are flying high but there could be some big exits in January

Phil Jones 

Since the start of last season, Jones has played just two Premier League games – and in the current campaign he’s failed to pull on the United shirt even once. It’s fair to say that his time at the club is up, but the question now is whether he heads out on loan or on a permanent deal.

He signed a new United contract in February 2019, while he was still playing regularly in the team, but has since fallen well down the pecking order despite having a deal through until the summer of 2023. Injuries have also been a huge hindrance, with the 28-year-old struggling through the past few months.

He has been linked with West Brom as Sam Allardyce explores bringing in another centre back, while Derby – managed by his former team-mate Wayne Rooney – have also been touted as an option.

He earns a hefty £75,000 a week, and Solskjaer will certainly be keen to get him off the books, be it temporary or for good.

The best move for all parties seems to be a permanent deal, with his United career over. As he approaches what should be the peak of his career, the former England international will surely want more playing-time, and United could use his wages elsewhere as they push back towards the top of the table.

Phil Jones looks likely to leave in January after failing to pull on the shirt even once this season

Phil Jones looks likely to leave in January after failing to pull on the shirt even once this season

He signed a new deal at United in January 2019 but that now looks to have been a mistake

He signed a new deal at United in January 2019 but that now looks to have been a mistake

Marcos Rojo

Rojo is another player who has been regularly linked with a move away from Old Trafford, and he left on loan for the second half of last season to join his boyhood club Estudiantes de La Plata – even then only managing one game.

Looking forward though, it is unlikely he will head back to Argentina again – despite £4m links to Boca Juniors – as he tries to secure a big European move. Of the six players United are keen to offload, Rojo is said to earn the most, on a mammoth £80,000 a week.

For a player who hasn’t played a single game this season, and who hasn’t played for the club at all in over a year, United will be well aware they need to clear his name from the books. 

His current deal expires in the summer, so he is now free to speak to European clubs about a pre-contract agreement for the summer, but United may still try and sell him in January to recoup some cash. He also has an extra year on his deal that United are yet to trigger.

Newcastle have been linked with a loan move, as have Sheffield United, and it is understood that the player’s preference would be to stay in England, and more specifically the Premier League. 

He is currently still injured, although closing in on a return, and whether he leaves in January is very much dependent on his fitness and whether he would be useful to a club before the summer. 

Marcos Rojo left United on loan for the second half of last season and could exit once again

Marcos Rojo left United on loan for the second half of last season and could exit once again

Steve Bruce's Newcastle United are one side being linked with Argentine defender this month

Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United are one side being linked with Argentine defender this month

Sergio Romero

Romero’s failed deadline day move to Everton hit the headlines back in October, with both the goalkeeper and his wife fuming that United pulled the plug at the 11th hour.

Since then, Dean Henderson and David de Gea have battled it out for the No 1 shirt, leaving Romero rotting on the bench and desperately waiting for January to secure his next move.

Earning £70,000 a week, United will also be keen to let him go and will perhaps regret their late decision to keep him on for the last three months. If they deem it to be a mistake, it was certainly an expensive one. He has not even been in Manchester for the whole time, instead opting to train in his native Argentina to stay fit.

Brighton are the most heavily-linked side in January, having reportedly told Mat Ryan he can leave after losing the No 1 spot to Robert Sanchez. An unnamed LaLiga side are also said to be keen, while there have been serious links to MLS and David Beckham’s Inter Miami.

While the decision has not yet been made, it is almost certain that Romero will end his difficult recent spell at United and move on to pastures new in the winter window. 

Sergio Romero has been linked with Brighton and MLS switch to David Beckham's Inter Miami

Sergio Romero has been linked with Brighton and MLS switch to David Beckham’s Inter Miami

Romero's wife Eliana Guercio hit out at Manchester United after they refused to let him leave

Romero’s wife Eliana Guercio hit out at Manchester United after they refused to let him leave

Daniel James 

After bursting onto the scene following his move from Swansea, it has been a difficult few months for Daniel James, who has fallen down the pecking order while his team-mates surge up the Premier League table.

This season he has started five Premier League games and is still on the fringes of the team. Given his age, and relative lack of experience, it is almost certain that United won’t sell him, instead opting to give him a chance of game-time elsewhere to improve his all-round game.

Old Trafford chiefs will also be keen to keep him in the Premier League. They signed him from Swansea, where he performed brilliantly for a season in the Championship, and it would likely be seen as a backwards step to drop him back down for a spell in the second tier.

Both Leeds and West Brom have been linked with temporary moves, and both would be interesting. Incredibly, he has already held a Leeds shirt aloft after almost signing for them before moving to United, before a deal fell through on deadline day. 

In the summer window he was again linked with the Elland Road outfit, and it would not be surprising if they did finally get their man on loan until the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Allardyce and West Brom are desperate for some creative, attacking talent and the winger would certainly fit the bill. At £45,000 a week, he’s not United’s highest earner by a long shot, but the club would certainly be happy to take his wages off their books for a few months while he gets some more game-time.

Daniel James is an exciting prospect but he is on the fringes at Old Trafford at the moment

Daniel James is an exciting prospect but he is on the fringes at Old Trafford at the moment

Winger James came so close to signing for Leeds that he was pictured posing with his shirt

Winger James came so close to signing for Leeds that he was pictured posing with his shirt

Jesse Lingard 

The fall from grace of Lingard has been remarkable… from starting in the World Cup semi-final for England in 2018, to failing to play a single minute of Premier League football for Manchester United this season.

He has been restricted to just two Carabao Cup matches in a United shirt this term, playing the full 90 minutes in a win over Luton, before coming on for just 10 minutes in the win over Brighton at the end of September.

His deal was set to expire at the end of the season, but United have just extended it a further year – not because they’re expecting him to get back into the team, but more to ensure that they do not lose him for free.

Lingard is 28 and should be at the peak of his career, and there will certainly be top Premier League clubs taking a look at the risks and deciding whether or not he would be a shrewd signing.

One of the more surprising links has been Tottenham, where he would link up with his old Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho. He was at his United peak under the Portuguese, and would be given a new lease of life in north London.

Perhaps a more likely scenario is Sheffield United, though, with Chris Wilder’s side also credited with an interest in the midfielder as they look to secure an unlikely escape from the Premier League relegation zone. 

Jesse Lingard started for England in the World Cup semi-final but is now an outcast at United

Jesse Lingard started for England in the World Cup semi-final but is now an outcast at United

Former United coach Jose Mourinho (right) is said to want to work with Lingard again at Spurs

Former United coach Jose Mourinho (right) is said to want to work with Lingard again at Spurs

Brandon Williams 

The arrival of Alex Telles at Old Trafford has stunted Williams’ progress somewhat, with the youngster now down the pecking order and expected to leave United on loan until the end of the season.

Much like James, it is incredibly unlikely that Solskjaer and Ed Woodward will opt to sell the youngster, instead sending him out temporarily to gain more experience and game-time.

Southampton were linked with him in the summer and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side are once again being touted as a January option for the England Under 21 international.

Elsewhere, Newcastle are another loan option, while Bayer Leverkusen are reported to want to sign him on a permanent deal in the coming weeks.

The Bundesliga side signed Santiago Arias on loan from Atletico Madrid but he has since suffered a broken leg and they are now on the hunt for a replacement – with Williams high on their list of targets.

It is expected that United would prefer to keep him close, though, with a loan move in England by far the most likely outcome for a young player they feel could have a big future at the club. 

Brandon Williams is another top talent but he could do with a spell away from United on loan

Brandon Williams is another top talent but he could do with a spell away from United on loan

So, how much could United save…? 

Well, all in all, if United were to offload the six names discussed above, they would be saving themselves a remarkable £410,000 a week in wages. That’s a serious amount of money from players not really featuring in the first-team plans, and it would free up some much-needed funds for potential incoming deals.

On top of the wages, there could well be some transfer fees involved, albeit not a serious amount of money. Writing off James and Williams, that leaves four players that could be sold this month.

Lingard should command a sizeable fee,  although the £30m touted by some reports back in May now seems a distant memory. It would be more likely to see him leave on loan now, in the hope that he shines for the rest of the season and then gets some higher bids in the summer when more clubs are willing to spend.

Romero will be available for around £2.5m, while Jones was reported to be valued at around £20m by United a few months ago. Given the current climate, it would be a huge surprise if he went for anything like that in January, and United would perhaps accept somewhere in the region of £10m to get him off the books. 

Ed Woodward could be counting the cash if United save a mammoth £410,00 a week in wages

Ed Woodward could be counting the cash if United save a mammoth £410,00 a week in wages

And what would they do with it?

The Premier League table makes for very interesting reading at the moment, with United second, only behind leaders Liverpool on goal difference.

While they wouldn’t have expected to be as close to the top as they are now, Solskjaer and Co may be eyeing up a surprise title push in the second half of the top-flight season.

Therefore, while big January signings were absolutely not on the cards a few months ago, the United boss may well now be pushing hard for reinforcements as he looks to seal a near-impossible title tilt ahead of historical rivals Liverpool.

If Jones and Rojo leave – plus there are reports that Eric Bailly could also be sold – a centre back addition could be on the cards, with Brighton’s Ben White, Real Madrid stalwart Raphael Varane and RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano all being linked.

Dayot Upamecano is a long-term target for Manchester United but he would cost big bucks

Dayot Upamecano is a long-term target for Manchester United but he would cost big bucks

The coronavirus pandemic has, of course, hindered United’s finances and it would take a fair bit of cash to bring any of those three players through the door, but the money associated with winning a Premier League title could make it doable.

Elsewhere, Declan Rice has also been linked, and Ousmane Dembele and Ismaila Sarr are both still being looked at after summer deals fell through.

Two players much more likely to be seen in the United set-up in 2021 are Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo, who both signed in the summer but are yet to arrive.

Diallo, 18, stayed at Atalanta on loan and is expected to arrive at Old Trafford this month to begin his time at United.

Pellistri, meanwhile, has not played for the first team but is beginning to be integrated into Solskjaer’s plans and could well feature in the second half of a very exciting campaign.  

It looks as though Amad Diallo will arrive at Old Trafford following his loan back at Atalanta

It looks as though Amad Diallo will arrive at Old Trafford following his loan back at Atalanta

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