The five Manchester United flops Erik ten Hag should forget about

With Erik ten Hag’s appointment as Manchester United’s new manager confirmed for next season, attention soon turns to the major surgery required on the squad at Old Trafford.


A clutch of players are out of contract – Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Lee Grant – while Nemanja Matic has also already announced he will be leaving the club.


That leaves some room to manoeuvre for Ten Hag, but United almost certainly missing out on qualification for the Champions League may affect his budget and the players he can attract.


United will likely try to move on some of their under-performing big names in the summer, so here are five players who could be allowed to leave Old Trafford to fund Ten Hag’s rebuild.


Anthony Martial


Martial was desperate to leave United during the January transfer window, but Ralf Rangnick would only allow the France forward to make a loan move to La Liga, where he joined Sevilla.


The move has not been a success. Martial will have been hoping to put himself in the shop window, yet has failed to score in the league and started just seven games for his new side. Injuries have blighted Martial’s time in Spain, but Sevilla’s sporting director Monchi has not yet closed the door on the 26-year-old potentially making his switch to the club permanent.


Reports in Italy have suggested United are hoping Martial can be included in a deal for Inter striker Lautaro Martinez, while it has also been claimed his remaining contract could be paid up.


Martial does not have a bad Premier League record overall – he has hit 56 goals and provided 26 assists in 175 United appearances – but it seems unlikely Ten Hag will want to keep him.


Eric Bailly


Ten Hag’s priority will surely be to fix United’s defence, with the fact David de Gea has arguably been their best player again this season damning for a team of their worldwide reputation.


Bailly seems the likeliest of United’s main centre-backs to be moved on after failing to make himself indispensable in his six years at Old Trafford.


The Ivory Coast international has only started a handful of Premier League games this season despite United conceding 52 goals this season – more than twice as many as Liverpool and league leaders Manchester City – and 20 more than Wolves.


Bailly has been linked with a move to Roma to play for ex-United boss Jose Mourinho, who reportedly also wants to take Matic and Diogo Dalot to the Italian capital.


Aaron Wan-Bissaka


A defensive rebuild should also see United move on from Wan-Bissaka, a £50 million flop.


When the right-back arrived from Crystal Palace he was touted as one of the best young defenders in the game, but Wan-Bissaka has failed to develop the attacking side of his game.


He therefore seems a poor fit for top teams in the modern era, where full-backs such as Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold are redefining what managers expect from the position.


Wan-Bissaka would only fetch a fraction of what United paid to sign him, but having lost his place in the team this season it seems unlikely he will be required by Ten Hag next term.


Phil Jones


The whopping contract extension given to Jones in 2019 means he still has a year to go on his deal at Old Trafford, which pays the centre-back a reported £100,000 a week.


Jones’ commitment has never been in doubt but the 30-year-old’s long list of injuries have thwarted his attempts to prove Alex Ferguson right – the legendary United boss once having claimed the former Blackburn Rovers centre-back could become United’s best ever player.


Having insisted in a recent interview he still feels good enough to make an impact in the Premier League, Jones should take the chance to prove himself by moving on from United this summer.


Cristiano Ronaldo


The most controversial decision facing Ten Hag when he arrives is what to do with Ronaldo.


Scoring 18 Premier League goals after returning to Old Trafford shows the 37-year-old remains clinical in front of goal, but there are questions about how he might fit into Ten Hag’s system.


With Martial expected to go along with Cavani, Marcus Rashford enduring a long lull in his form and Mason Greenwood suspended, United could certainly do with keeping Ronaldo around.


Yet if Ten Hag wants to impose a pressing system at United it is hard to see Ronaldo being the man to lead the line for his new-look team.


After starring in Monday’s home win over Brentford, Ronaldo was spotted mouthing “I’m not finished” by television cameras, indicating he sees his future remaining at Old Trafford.


While the veteran Portugal superstar has a year left on his deal, that call might be Ten Hag’s.

Author: Lucas Carlson