Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under some serious pressure at Manchester United right now. A run of one win in six Premier League games would be enough to have most top-flight bosses fearing for their role, but the scrutiny is ramped up several notches further where the Old Trafford job is concerned.
Solskjaer has survived such rough patches before – and could do again. However, at present, it would have to be considered unlikely that he will still be in his post come the start of next season – unless he can mastermind a drastic turnaround in the Red Devils’ fortunes.
Regardless of whether the Norwegian is still at the helm at the beginning of the 2022/23 campaign, there will undoubtedly be several players who will exit the Theatre of Dreams at the end of the current season, if not sooner.
United aren’t renowned for being a ‘selling’ club, but the bloated nature of their current squad – together with a number of contracts being due to expire – means that departures are almost inevitable.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to take a look at those players who could be entering the final months of their time at United.
8 Manchester United players who might depart the club at the end of the season
1. Donny van de Beek
Despite being brought in from Ajax 14 months ago for close to £40 million, the Dutch playmaker has barely had a sniff of a first-team opportunity under Solskjaer, making just four Premier League starts in his time at the club.
The reasons behind Van de Beek’s lack of playing time aren’t entirely clear, but he is unlikely to be keen to sit idly on the United bench for too long. A move – either in January or the summer – is entirely possible for the 24-year-old, particularly if Solskjaer remains in charge.
2. Paul Pogba
It’s sometimes tough to remember where we are with the Paul Pogba contract saga. The player himself has seemingly had numerous changes of heart over the last 12 months over whether he wants to sign a contract extension at Old Trafford.
What we do know for sure, though, is that his existing deal is up in the summer, meaning that he will leave United for a second time on 30 June 2022 unless he puts pen to paper on a fresh agreement.
3. Edinson Cavani
It was only back in May that Uruguayan star Cavani was convinced to sign on for another year at the club, with United working hard to convince him that he would be a big part of their plans this season.
A few short months later, a certain Cristiano Ronaldo rocked up, rendering the majority of those promises invalid. Known to be keen on a move to Boca Juniors before he hangs his boots up, it seems certain that the 34-year-old will depart this summer.
4. Jesse Lingard
Resisting an approach from West Ham for the 28-year old during the close season, Solskjaer had seen enough from Lingard during his time on loan with the Hammers last term to convince him that he should retain the midfielder as a part of his squad.
However, first-team appearances have still been at a premium for Lingard, who could well angle for a move away from Old Trafford as early as January in a bid to stake a late claim for England’s World Cup squad in Qatar.
5. Juan Mata
A fantastic servant to the club, Mata will be 34-years of age by the time his contract expires in the summer. The wealth of midfield options at United mean that the Spaniard has been restricted to just a sole Carabao Cup appearance so far this season.
It seems unlikely that he’ll extend his seven-year stay at Old Trafford when his current deal expires in the summer.
6. Anthony Martial
A mere two seasons ago, Martial was United’s leading goalscorer in all competitions, netting 23 times in the 2019/20 campaign. However, the Frenchman has fallen well down the pecking order at United in the time that has followed.
Still only 25 years old, Martial has plenty of time to revive his career – although it doesn’t appear that United will be the place where he re-establishes himself. For the right price, it’s hard to imagine the club putting up too much of a fight to keep him.
7. Phil Jones
The unlucky 29-year-old, who hasn’t made a first-team appearance in the better part of two years due to injuries, still has around 18 months to run on his United deal.
Recent reports suggest that there is plenty of interest in Jones – with as many as 13 clubs believed to have enquired about taking him on loan in January as he makes his way back to full fitness.
Realistically, Jones is going to find it tough to displace either of the current preferred centre-back pairing of Raphael Varane or Harry Maguire. Should an initial loan spell go well, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Jones depart United for a new home in the summer.
8. Cristiano Ronaldo
This final entry is a controversial one, as the five-time Ballon d’Or winner signed a two-year deal with United back in August – and is arguably their most important player.
Let’s face it, Ronaldo has basically single-handedly kept United in this season’s Champions League. However, with the club currently five points off the top four in the Premier League, there’s a very real possibility that the Red Devils won’t be back at Europe’s top table next term.
The competition’s highest-ever goalscorer, would Ronaldo accept missing out on the Champions League for a run in the Europa League – or worse still – the Europa Conference League.
Although he’ll be 37 years old in February, Ronaldo would be of interest to a host of the continent’s top sides should he decide he wants to move on.
Naturally, departures from the club are likely to increase should a new manager come in at United between now and the start of next season. Any fresh face at the helm will want to bring in their own players and put their own stamp on the squad.
It promises to be an interesting few months ahead at Old Trafford.