Manchester United Transfers: 5 Reds Who Need to Be Offloaded in January
Sir Alex Ferguson has previously eschewed the transfer market for Manchester United in January. This time it could be different. With a couple of pieces of the jigsaw still to fill, he also has players he would probably be prepared to sell.
One reason to offload players is if new signings come in for their position. Kevin Strootman is one such possibility.
Some could be surplus to requirements. Others could be let go for the benefit of their own future development. Some could be available to sweeten the pill in a part-exchange or swap deal.
Manchester United have up to 80 players eligible for their First Team squad, including Under 21s. Sir Alex Ferguson likes having options for his team. Apart from anything else, it creates competition for places.
He also only wants players who want to play for the red shirt. Much though it upset him that Paul Pogba wanted to leave, what is the point of keeping a player whose heart isn't in Old Trafford?
Sadly, the other side of the story is of players who would give their right arms to succeed at United but simply won't make it. There are also the Pogbas, Fryers and Morrisons who are too impatient to take their chances.
Nevertheless, it is likely that many who leave Old Trafford have a sense of disappointment. With such a huge squad and an army of talented youngsters coming through, Sir Alex has some tough decisions to make in January and next summer.
Incoming transfers could hold the key
With the new Chevrolet deal and the bumper Sky contract starting soon, a profitable United should have funds available in every transfer window for the foreseeable future.
The apparent activity and interest in the last couple of summers suggest that Sir Alex still has one or two ideas in mind.
When all his defenders are fully fit, he shouldn't have any problems across the back. Evra and Buttner should be complemented by Fabio's return next summer. At right back there are options beyond Rafael with Smalling, Jones and the emerging Marnick Vermijl and Michael Keane.
His centre backs have shown a certain fragility last season and this. Sir Alex may well have concluded that he needs even more cover. OK, he has Wootton and Keane (and a load of other young players) coming through.
But they are still developing, and if this is his last season as manager, he will desperately want to win both the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
So it is not surprising that he has been linked with Brede Hangeland, whose contract with Fulham runs out next summer. Not only would the Norwegian giant provide cover for Vidic at the back, but he would feed off Valencia's crosses up front.
Together with Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra, he could be phased out as the younger players mature.
Further midfield signings
While Sir Alex talks only of a "holding" rather than "defensive" midfield, citing Carrick and Fletcher, he surely cannot have missed the growing clamour for the latter. People tend to think of Roy Keane as such, but in truth United have not had a box-to-box player like him since he went.
Plenty of names have been linked in the past, such as Tiote from Newcastle. While Ferguson has great belief in Carrick and Fletcher, he surely could make at least occasional use of a midfield destroyer like Daniele De Rossi.
So Sir Alex has plenty of reasons to consider letting players go in January. There will inevitably be some going out on loan. If, for example, Hangeland came in then Michael Keane and Michele Fornasier would be prime candidates.
Apart from these, which players are possibilities to leave the club altogether?
"Earth to Mars...."
Some of us have begun to wonder which planet Nani is on. Last year, he was the Manchester United Players' Player of the Year. This year, he may not even make his colleagues' Christmas card list.
Sir Alex will not allow his patience to be stretched any further. Apart from the above alleged attack on youngster Davide Petrucci, Nani has shown petulance too often.
He is about as frustrating as any player can be. There are few in the Premier League who can cut through a defence the way he can. His record of goals and assists for a winger has been one of the best. But his judgement is unreliable as to when to shoot and when to pass.
Sir Alex has more than enough reasons to consider Nani as dispensable. His exasperation clearly snapped after a series of dismal performances was capped by one of extraordinary anonymity against Tottenham. The Portuguese winger was hauled off at half time.
If Nani's indifferent form is a product of his contract frustration then he is writing his own death sentence. He may feel that United are reluctant to extend his contract but the truth is he has done nothing to justify a hike of almost 50 percent on his current wage.
Apart from internal possibilities, like Ashley Young, Kagawa and even Jesse Lingard, there is a new and sinister threat to Nani's ambitions.
In the last two matches, Sir Alex has played with no wingers at all. United won them both. The new diamond formation worked well with Cleverley and Kagawa covering out wide against Newcastle until Valencia came on in the second half.
Looking at the way Chelsea and Arsenal are playing, let alone Barcelona, there is every possibility that Sir Alex would gladly let Nani go in exchange for, or replaced by, a creative or attacking midfielder.
So the omens are not good for Nani, and it would be very surprising if he was still at Old Trafford in February.
They say there is no smoke without fire. Nani wasn't even included in the squad at Newcastle. It seems a racing certainty that somebody will transport him out of Old Trafford in January if the price is right.
Unless of course he caves in and signs a new five-year contract on £90,000 a week...
Josh King has a number in both the Champions League and Premier League squads. He's been on the bench, not for the first time, against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup.
And yet, apart from preseason, he can't get a game. Not surprising, when he has arguably six strikers in front of him in the queue. And that's without Will Keane, who is out injured.
King is understandably frustrated and has apparently been the subject of interest from other clubs, according to his agent.
The Norwegian has been on loan previously to Hull City and Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The thing is that he is not the best of United's young strikers. Leaving aside Welbeck and Hernandez, who are two of Ferguson's "four" there are, in no particular order, at least three ahead of him in Macheda, Keane and Henriquez.
Sir Alex, a former striker himself, loves strikers. He has even been linked regularly with Robert Lewandowski in the last few months. That should make Hernandez nervous, in addition to King.
There seems little point in letting King go on loan again if he is unlikely to get games any time soon. So if there is tangible interest elsewhere, perhaps his agent should negotiate a move.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Molde perhaps?
Federico Macheda was a scoring sensation for Manchester United at 17 when he saved them from defeat against Aston Villa.
Sadly, while King was on the bench, Macheda didn't even make the substitutes against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup.
He has had a frustrating time of late. He went to QPR on loan, got injured and a new manager came in. Result: a waste of time.
Meanwhile, United have signed Angelo Henriquez from Universidad de Chile. They went to great trouble to get him a work permit. Despite his old club wanting to take him back, Sir Alex demanded that he move to Old Trafford.
Henriquez has already scored twice for the U21s. Surely it's only a matter of time before he gets his chance in the First Team. If he shows up really well, Hernandez's place could be in jeopardy, let alone Macheda.
The Italian has not really "trained on" in the last three years. Yes, he scores goals, seems very loyal and is prepared to do what Warren Joyce (the U21 coach) demands.
He isn't getting any younger and must surely harbour aspirations for international honours in Italy before too long. Maybe like Giuseppe Rossi before him, he will have to move on to progress his career?
Bebe is an enigma. He is also nominally a striker, despite usually playing on the wing.
He was signed without Sir Alex seeing him, on the recommendation of former coach Carlos Queiroz. He never quite made the grade in his first season, despite first-team appearances.
It was clear that United were prepared to let him go.
Besiktas of Turkey seem to have been the only club interested in signing him. He went on loan, with a view to an eventual transfer at £2 million.
He returned to Old Trafford with an injury and presumably with Besiktas' interest at an end.
He is a regular for the Portuguese Under 21s and has a squad number at United. At 22, like Macheda, he is at an awkward age, no longer a youth but not having broken into the First Team.
He showed some spectacular form and scored on the preseason tour, but it must be expected that he will again be available for a permanent transfer in January. He doesn't look a natural successor to Valencia, Young or Nani unless something dramatic happens.
He'll score goals for some team. Barnet? Gillingham, perhaps....?
Robbie Brady is another of a sizable clutch of players desperate to break into the Manchester United first team.
He perhaps has even more reason than most. Yesterday he was called up for the Ireland World Cup squad, having been on standby.
Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has previously implied that Brady needs to be getting regular first-team football to merit a place in the squad, despite an excellent performance against Oman.
It seems that making two goals and scoring one himself wasn't enough to guarantee a future place. The trouble is that there is no sign of a first-team place at Old Trafford either.
He did at least make the substitutes bench against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup, coming on for Buttner after 85 minutes.
Clearly Sir Alex and Warren Joyce see him as a potential left back. He has played there for the U21s and also once in preseason. This smacks of trying to find him a position where he might have a chance.
Frankly, watching him in the Reserves, he doesn't look special. He has a shot on him, is string and can run at pace at defenders. Does he want to hang around to be another Darron Gibson?
So if Trapattoni makes the point again while he is with the Ireland squad, he may have to give some thought to moving on.
No doubt he has already spoken to "the Boss" who would naturally make no promises. If left back is where he sees Brady, the 20-year-old faces the prospect of Fabio returning next season. Unless Evra is sold, that means three players ahead of him, two of which are under 24.
He hasn't quite convinced as a winger either. He looks better on the right, but one suspects Larnell Cole and Jesse Lingard may be ahead of him for a wing berth.
In short, he has to decide whether his optimum route is through showcasing for Ireland or waiting patiently at United. At the moment the former looks more favourable, and he may therefore go in January.
Chicharito has also been mentioned as possibly leaving Old Trafford, though probably not in January.
The tabloids have to sell papers and at least one has carried a story of Hernandez being swapped for Kaka. This is not entirely stupid, however.
Kaka is undoubtedly good enough to step into Paul Scholes' boots and Sir Alex loves "galactico"-style players, like Veron, Cantona, van Persie and Berbatov. The Brazilian has returned to form and favour with Real Madrid.
Anderson is another touted for a move this last summer. Some may have been surprised that he is still at Old Trafford.
There seems little doubt that if Sir Alex had signed Lucas Moura, Wesley Sneijder or Neymar, Ando would have been surplus to requirements.
He is in his best spell for years right now, back to the form he showed at the start of last season. Nevertheless, if Kevin Strootman is coming to Old Trafford, surely Anderson will be leaving.
Finally, it is hard to see a long term future for Davde Petrucci either. He has had bad luck with injuries, is a cultured midfielder and captain of the U21s. But he also has to think long and hard about his future.
He is Italian and 21 next month. When he looks at the Manchester United website, he can see 18-year-olds Nick Powell and Angelo Henriquez listed in the "First Team" together with Macheda and Bebe, while his own name is on the U21s page.
He has ability but doesn't seem to have the pace that Sir Alex now demands from his top players. He would do well to consider a move back to Italy where his style and pace may be better appreciated, maybe on loan?
So who do you think will leave Old Trafford in January?