Manchester United have endured a tough time during the season’s opening weeks, with Erik ten Hag feeling the heat after an unconvincing start to the campaign.
United are sixth in the Premier League table and bottom of their UEFA Champions League group, sitting on the brink of an early exit in Europe. Ten Hag has spent more than £400m on new additions since taking charge of the club last season, but further business is expected as he looks to build a side capable of challenging the Premier League’s best teams.
With Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority acquisition close to being finalised, funds could be made available for new signings. With incomings and outgoings expected, we assess the current squad and categorise where each player sits in the long-term rebuild.
Manchester United squad rebuild: Who should stay and who should go?
- Rasmus Hojlund
- Bruno Fernandes
- Lisandro Martinez
- Luke Shaw
That just four players make this category is indicative of the club’s recruitment in recent windows. Major investment was made in Rasmus Hojlund during the summer and while the 20-year-old is still awaiting his first Premier League goal, a return of five goals in four Champions League games has highlighted his raw potential.
Hojlund has the unrefined qualities to lead the line, with his mix of power, pace and movement attributes which can be developed at Old Trafford.
Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw are each among the Premier League’s best in their respective positions when fit and in form, while Lisandro Martinez earned admirers for an impressive debut campaign in the Premier League. In the right system, each can be crucial cogs in Ten Hag’s team.
Bruno Fernandes in Euro 2024 qualifying [rank]:
💫 13 goals + assists [🥉]
🪄 11 big chances created [🥇]
🅰️ 7 assists [🥇]
🔑 3.9 key passes per game [=🥈]
Excellent campaign. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/uYY8C1ZBeE
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 22, 2023
- Marcus Rashford
- Mason Mount
- Alejandro Garnacho
- Kobbie Mainoo
Marcus Rashford’s form last season should have placed him into the above tier, but a downturn in performances has highlighted that the winger remains frustratingly inconsistent. However, Rashford’s clear ceiling – alongside his experience and Manchester United roots – mean he should remain a part of the club’s plans.
Mason Mount is another player who has so far failed to show his best form this season, with the 24-year-old yet to replicate the levels he showed at former club Chelsea. Mount has lost his place in the England squad after a sustained period of below-par form, but is another who is better than recent displays.
Elsewhere, Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho are players the club will be keen to develop. Each have excelled in the club’s youth teams and have the potential to evolve into key assets.
- Altay Bayindir
- Victor Lindelof
- Tyrell Malacia
Squad players are vital to the fortunes of any successful side, able to be called upon when required, without disrupting the dressing room dynamics. Altay Bayindir was signed in the summer and is yet to appear, but the Turkey goalkeeper is waiting in the wings should Andre Onana’s unconvincing start continue.
Victor Lindelof is an experienced third/fourth choice centre-back, though his longer-term future will depend on how he views his own role. Several clubs are monitoring the Sweden captain, whose contract expires in 2025. Tyrell Malacia has served as a capable back-up option to Luke Shaw at left-back since signing from Feyenoord, but has struggled with fitness issues of late.
- Andre Onana
- Sofyan Amrabat
- Raphael Varane
- Amad Diallo
- Aaron Wan-Bissaka
- Diogo Dalot
- Scott McTominay
The lists lengthen as reach the current personnel whose futures are subjects of debate. The jury certainly remains out on Andre Onana, who has come under fire for his error-prone start at Manchester United.
Ten Hag had worked with Onana at Ajax, while the Cameroon international’s performances during Inter Milan’s run to the Champions League final last season indicated an improvement on the long-serving David de Gea. So far, however, that has failed to ring true.
Sofyan Amrabat has had a mixed start of his own since signing on loan from Fiorentina, while Antony is yet to show anywhere close to the level that persuaded Ten Hag to spend an initial £82m to reunite with the Brazilian from Ajax. Four goals and two assists from 34 league appearances is a meagre return on that investment.
Raphale Varane’s future appears unclear after falling out of favour in recent weeks, with Jonny Evans and Harry Maguire selected ahead of the four-time Champions League winner. Amad Diallo suffered a pre-season setback after an impressive loan spell at Sunderland last season, but will hope to earn a chance in the coming months.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Diogo Dalot and Scott McTominay have all fluctuated in form and favour during Ten Hag’s time at Old Trafford.
Time to go
- Harry Maguire
- Anthony Martial
- Sergio Reguilon
- Christian Eriksen
- Tom Heaton
- Jadon Sancho
- Facundo Pellistri
- Donny van de Beek
- Hannibal Mejbri
- Shola Shoretire
- Brandon Williams
- Hannibal Mejbri
Reports this week have suggested a major clear-out is expected at Old Trafford across the next two transfer windows. Jadon Sancho should headline the exits after his public spat with Ten Hag, while Anthony Martial has failed to fulfil his early potential and has scored just 10 league goals since 2020.
🚨⚪️⚫️ Understand Juventus asked for informations on Jadon Sancho deal in recent days.
He’s set to leave Man United in January, Juve are interested but only on loan plus part of salary covered by #MUFC.
No negotiations yet as Man Utd prefer to wait for permanent deal bids. pic.twitter.com/io1DHwybOn
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 13, 2023
Donny van de Beek’s disastrous time in the Premier League should come to an end in the near future, while Sergio Reguilon and Tom Heaton were stop-gap signings. Hannibal Mejbri, Brandon Williams, Shola Shoretire and Facundo Pellestri appear unlikely to earn regular minutes, while decisions must be made on Harry Maguire, Christian Eriksen and Casemiro.
Maguire’s fortunes have been well-documented despite a recent upturn at club level, while both Eriksen and Casemiro will turn 32 in February. The former’s minutes have declined this season, while Casemiro’s performances have dropped since a superb first season at Old Trafford. It might be premature to cut ties with the Brazil international, but long-term planning is required. His lucrative (and lengthy) contract and advancing age mean a sale might be sensible, particularly if a big bid arrives from the Saudi Pro League.