Manchester United are in a title race. Who thought we would say that last August?
Tied on points with Liverpool in the lead, with a match underway against the champions. It looks pretty rosy at Old Trafford at the moment (it’s particularly impressive given how serious their start to the season is) and they have the opportunity this month to strengthen their hand in the transfer market.
The chances of an expensive income seem low, however. Amad Diallo’s deal with Atalanta is already in place, but January 2021 will be more about clearing out remaining deadwood and cutting the payroll rather than massive signing of declarations.
Here are the seven players most likely to leave United this month.
Potential destinations: Brighton, or anywhere that offers the chance to play football
Potential transfer fee: less than £ 5million
Poor Sergio Romero has really suffered this season. He’s always done an admirable job as David de Gea’s understudy, but now that Dean Henderson has returned and taken on the role of Romero, the 33-year-old is really in the cold.
United should have allowed Romero to leave this summer, but their transfer requests ended up meant he stayed. The player and his wife were not happy about it, but he will leave at some point in 2021 with his contract expiring in June.
Brighton is looking for a goalkeeper to replace Mat Ryan, and they could do a lot worse.
Potential destination: Boca Juniors
Potential transfer fee: less than £ 5million
Marcos Rojo has plenty of time to hone his toasting skills at the moment, given he’s not looking to join United’s first team. And he really needs the practice.
The Argentine, now 30, will leave the club when his contract expires this summer, but he could leave six months earlier to return to his homeland. Speculation that Boca Juniors have come to an agreement on a three-year contract for the defender has yet to be confirmed.
Whether he leaves this month or this summer is up to United, who may want a small fee or let him go for free before his contract ends.
Potential destinations: Newcastle, Southampton, Bayer Leverkusen
Potential agreement: Ready until the end of the season
Alex Telles’ arrivals this summer have meant Brandon Williams has spent most of his time playing for United’s Under-23s this season, instead of the first team.
He has good potential though, as he’s shown since his breakthrough, although his form dropped towards the end of last season. A loan seems to be the safest option.
There is also a lot of interest in him, with Newcastle being a likely option as is.
Potential destinations: Burnley, Newcastle
Potential transfer fee: less than £ 10million
Would you believe that Phil Jones is still only 28?
We haven’t seen its peak yet, you know. However, if he plays football regularly again, it is almost certain that it will not be at Manchester United.
The club made a huge mistake in awarding Jones a contract until 2023 shortly after Solskjaer took office as they have now ended up with a player with a lot of money who is incredibly injury-prone. So they will spend energy and time in this transfer window and ahead trying to find a club to sell it to.
Burnley could be one of those options with new investments, while you can bet Steve Bruce might be keen to bring the big man back to the forefront at Newcastle United.
Potential destinations: Bayer Leverkusen
Potential transfer fee: £ 1.5m
Dutch prospect Tim Fosu-Mensah recently rejected a new contract offer from United, though questions have been raised as to why a deal was offered in the first place.
Although a fan favorite at Old Trafford, Fosu-Mensah has yet to realize the potential with which he came to the academy club Ajax, and he joined in 2016. He is not going to take the place. Aaron Wan-Bissaka at right-back and has not suggested that he can do the necessary work in other positions, although he is versatile, so his best option might be to move on.
He has been linked with a multitude of clubs but now it appears Bayer Leverkusen have reached a deal to sign him in January.
Potential destinations: Sheffield United, overseas options
Potential transfer fee: £ 10m – £ 15m
Jesse Lingard’s fate appears to be sealed at United, despite the club having recently triggered a 12-month extension option on his contract.
It was a move to keep his value and sell, however you think of him, with his contract before it expires this summer. United are hoping to earn a decent honorarium in January or summer for the now former England international, who has fallen victim to Bruno Fernandes’ quality in his position.
It remains to be seen who seriously sues Lingard, but United will likely be accommodating in any sales process as they would like to see one of their academy graduates fire again elsewhere.
Potential destination: Brighton, Leeds, Wolves
Potential deal: loan or fees between £ 15-20million
Daniel James started his United career like a house on fire. But the goals dried up, confidence was lost and he fell down the pecking order.
James is at his best in a counterattacking system with room to clash, but as United try to move away from that style and seek to dominate games, the Welshman suffers. Amad Diallo’s arrival and onboarding this month is sure to make it even more difficult for James to get minutes.
You can always see him playing in the right situations, but United will be looking for their broad players to offer more than pace. The ability to dribble past former players and out of tight spaces, make the right pass at the right time and have a killer instinct in front of goal are all key qualities and that do not look as if James had them all now.
There will be a lot of takers on loan or on permanent contracts, although the former seems more likely. Marcelo Bielsa has already tried to sign him for Leeds while Graham Potter from Brighton knows James’ game well enough to improve it.
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