Predicting the Best Destinations for Louis Van Gaal's Manchester United Outcasts

Paul Ansorge@@utdrantcastFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2014

Predicting the Best Destinations for Louis Van Gaal's Manchester United Outcasts

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    There is widespread acceptance among Manchester United fans that some of Louis van Gaal's squad would be better off finding a new home.

    There may be debate as to which players should leave, but suggesting that there is "dead wood" in the squad is not something many observers would dispute.

    In order to predict a destination for those players Van Gaal deems surplus to requirements, we first need to decide who those players are.

    On August 10, 2014, Simon Jones and Sami Mokbel reported, via Mail Online, that Van Gaal had decided who was free to leave and informed the players.

    Javier Hernandez, Marouane Fellaini, Wilfried Zaha, Will Keane, Nani, Anderson and Rafael da Silva were reportedly all told they should look for a new club.

    That list has some notable exclusions—it would have been no surprise to see Tom Cleverley or even Shinji Kagawa included—but seems a good place to start.

    Let's take a look at where those players could end up...

Will Keane

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    The young striker had two loan spells last season, both in the Championship, neither of which was particularly fruitful.

    At Wigan he made two starts and two further substitute appearances without scoring. At Queens Park Rangers he started six times, made four substitute appearances and did not get on the score sheet.

    Keane's career has suffered from the 16-month layoff that resulted from his cruciate ligament injury.

    By that point he had made his first-team debut at United and was a crucial member of the FA Youth Cup-winning squad of 2011. He has not been able to reach the same level since, understandable given he missed a vital stage in his development as a player. 

    Predicting where his career goes from here is a challenge. If he does not have a future at United, he needs to find a club prepared to gamble on his potential. The intense, physical nature of the Championship might not be the best bet for him.

    Rather, a Premier League club whose manager is interested in youth development and who may have an eye for a bargain seems a good fit.

    Everton's Roberto Martinez may be the ideal steward for Keane's career. The club spent uncharacteristically heavily on Romelu Lukaku this summer. Adding to that by taking advantage of a United-trained prospect available at a reasonable price could be a savvy move for all involved.

    Keane could provide back-up, an alternative option and a potential strike partner for Lukaku should Martinez ever want to play with two up front. Martinez could certainly help Keane develop.

    Perhaps one day the legacy of the cruciate ligament injury could be forgotten, and Keane will be able to fulfill the huge promise he has shown.

    Best Destination: Everton


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    Anderson's Manchester United career has never come close to living up to his initial potential. Signed at significant expense, with a big reputation, he has languished on the sidelines through injury and lack of form. 

    He is still a young man, having turned 26 in April, but it is hard to see where his career goes next. 

    An unsuccessful loan spell at Fiorentina last season has lead to the Italian club demonstrating no interest in making his signing permanent. 

    He was reportedly offered on loan to Santos, Atletico Mineiro and Flamengo, per Simon Jones of the Daily Mail. Santos and Atletico have apparently already "invested in other targets," and Anderson himself turned down the move to Flamengo "through fear of not being paid on time." 

    He has been enormously successful at United in terms of silverware accrued but has rarely been an integral part of that success, at least not since his fine first season. 

    The loan at Fiorentina was probably Anderson's last chance to impress in Europe. A move to Brazil seems still to be his best chance of escape. 

    However, if finding a destination for Anderson was easy, it would already have been done.

    Best destination: A Brazilian club he is prepared to play for.

Wilfried Zaha

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    The former Crystal Palace youngster is reportedly one of a trio of players Van Gaal has excluded from the first-team squad, per Steve Bates of the Mirror

    Bates' story also says Palace would be happy to bring Zaha back to them and that Newcastle are also interested.

    If those are the two clubs with Zaha on the radar, the youngster might do well to avoid the familiar and set out for a spell in the Northeast.

    Before Tony Pulis left Palace, he was said to have concerns about Zaha's attitude and had held "showdown talks" with chairman Steve Parish over Zaha's potential return, per David Wright of the Express

    His next move is crucial to his future, as his time at United has done his reputation no favours. Zaha could do without the baggage associated with that story and may have fewer distractions in Newcastle.

    Best destination: Newcastle United

Marouane Fellaini

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    Fellaini is profoundly linked with the David Moyes era in the hearts and minds of United fans. Currently, that link seems inextricable. The chances of the Belgian turning it around at United seem remote. It was no surprise to see the player—who cost £27 million a year earlier—being linked with a move away.

    On Sunday, Football Italia reported on stories in the "Italian media" claiming that Napoli could land Fellaini for "just €7m." 

    United would apparently be required to continue to pay half of Fellaini's wages under such an agreement, which makes the deal seem very unpalatable.

    The truth is, while Fellaini has not been a success at United, he does have a proven Premier League track record. He was a fine player for Everton for many years, particularly when used as a bullying second striker.

    Mark Hughes may have changed Stoke City's reputation since taking over from Pulis, but Fellaini still seems a fine match for them. With Peter Crouch now 33, Fellaini could make a perfect replacement. Fellaini would probably have to take a pay cut, but that is likely to be the case wherever he ends up.

    Best destination: Stoke City


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    Nani's name has been mentioned all summer as a make-weight in United's rumoured transfer dealings with other clubs.

    The latest rumour, per Ian Ladyman in the Mail Online, is that he will form part of United's bid for Marcos Rojo.

    Last Wednesday, Anthony Chapman of the Express reported Nani was a crucial part of any potential deal United had lined up for Arturo Vidal. 

    It is hard to imagine United being in the least bit reluctant to allow this, given Nani's recent form.

    His best destination would appear to be whichever club United most want to sign a player from...

    Best destination: Juventus, not necessarily for Nani, but because it might mean Vidal arriving at United.

Javier Hernandez

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    Hernandez is probably the best buy on this list of players. A club prepared to play him regularly as an in-the-box forward would be getting a wonderful addition to their squad.

    At the end of July, Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo ruled out a move for Chicharito, per Sky Sports.  However, the Little Pea would be a fine signing for them as they attempt to hold onto their hard-won title in the face of their free-spending rivals.

    With Diego Costa leaving and Mario Mandzukic arriving, there has been close to a like-for-like replacement. However, the opportunity to strengthen their attacking options is one they should not pass up.

    Hernandez, like Nani, has been mentioned as part of a potential move for Vidal, per Jack de Menezes of The Independent.  The Mexican could well thrive for the Serie A champions too. Either way, another top-level European club seems a natural fit for a player many United fans would be sad to see depart.

    Best destination: Atletico Madrid if they change their mind.

Rafael Da Silva

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    When Louis van Gaal's Bayern Munich faced Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the 2009/2010 Champions League, Rafael da Silva was sent off.

    Ferguson was unhappy, making the assertion that the behaviour of Bayern's players contributed to the Brazilian's dismissal and branding them "typical Germans," per The Guardian

    Van Gaal replied:

    I don't share his opinion. Every player must know that, if he picks up a yellow card, a second means a sending-off.

    I'm certainly happy my players knew that and that those who were booked carried on professionally. I believe it was a yellow-card offence [from Rafael] and that the player made the foul.

    It would be intriguing to find out whether—if Rafael is indeed surplus to requirements—this incident has played a part in Van Gaal's thinking.

    Since then the young right-back has progressed, although last season saw him beset with injuries and reverting to the more impulsive decision-making that appeared to have gone from his game in his excellent 2012/13 season.

    The truth is, Van Gaal would be making an error to get rid of da Silva, assuming there is a chance his injury record can improve. His best performances in red have shown a player who would be an excellent fit for Van Gaal's current system.

    He certainly has the attacking talents to contribute as a right wing-back. At his best, his defending is excellent too.

    With the lack of viable alternatives on sharp display in the first half against Swansea City on Saturday, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that da Silva should remain at the club. If Van Gaal does not have his mind changed, he can seek a replacement. For now, though, Rafael should go nowhere.

    Best destination: Manchester United