Louis van Gaal has told Javier Hernandez, Rafael, Marouane Fellaini, Nani, Anderson, Wilfried Zaha and Will Keane they can leave Manchester United before the transfer window closes, according to reports.
The Dutch manager recently admitted he will offer his squad a final judgement before making acquisitions, as reported by the Daily Star's Jeremy Cross. Now the International Champions Cup has been captured, Van Gaal has spent enough time with this team to know who he believes can help the Red Devils get back on track.
Simon Jones and Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail indicate Van Gaal "has taken the first steps to streamline his Manchester United squad after holding talks with six players, including right-back Rafael." Alongside Rafael, "it is understood the Dutch coach told Fellaini, Zaha, Nani and Keane that the club will listen to offers for them."
Hernandez and Anderson "already know" they are up for grabs if the right bid comes in, as noted by Jones and Mokbel's report. Most of these names won't come as a surprise to supporters, who will be looking for Van Gaal to quickly strengthen his squad before the start of the season.
Perhaps surprisingly, the aforementioned report suggests Shinji Kagawa is set to stay. The Japanese midfielder has looked sharp during pre-season—highlighted by his fantastic chipped cross for Hernandez's goal against Real Madrid—and may finally get a fair chance of making it in the No. 10 role.
Kagawa will have to battle with Juan Mata for a spot in the first team, but there's no doubt he has something to offer at Old Trafford. Those reportedly up for the chop do not fall into this category, aside from Rafael and Keane.
The former has suffered from a plague of injury problems in recent times and is sure to split United fans down the middle. Rafael is an ambitious player who is capable of halting any winger in the world, but he often does so just minutes before he hacks the same individual down.
He is a one step forward, one step backwards type of individual who isn't reliable when the intensity increases. United also saw this with his brother, Fabio, who now plays Championship football with Cardiff.
Keane hasn't made the breakthrough he once promised to achieve, largely thanks to long-term injury. He ruptured his cruciate ligament not long after making his United debut in 2011 and has barely been considered for the senior squad since. He is a talented forward, but at 21 years old, he will need to consistently start if he's to progress.
James Wilson's emergence through the youth ranks—capped by his quartet of goals during the recent 4-0 Manchester Senior Cup win over Manchester City—may also speed up Keane's exit.
Fellaini remains the symbol of David Moyes' failed empire, so it's understandable why Van Gaal would want to sell the Belgian. He doesn't offer the dynamic, ball-playing style the new boss likes, either, making it difficult to suggest Fellaini would be anything more than a defence-aiding substitute if he stayed.
Nani and Anderson should have been shipped from United two seasons ago. Both remain immensely talented individuals who have lost their way due to injuries, fitness and laziness. Nani has the potential to be one of the world's greater wingers, but it's been years since he showed devastating form for United.
Anderson possesses a natural glide and dribbling skill that could inject urgency into any team, but he remains overweight and sloppy.
Like Hernandez, both of these players could have offered so much more. Chicharito remains an excellent finisher, but he doesn't offer enough physicality, speed or quality hold-up play to start matches.
Zaha put in a couple of decent shifts during United's tour of America but as noted by Van Gaal, via Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News, "he has to play as a striker, otherwise he cannot play." Zaha will need to oust at least Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie for that to happen, making him a bit-part player in the 3-5-2 formation.
Former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel believes Van Gaal will whip his squad into shape, no matter who remains. "So he looks to be his own man, who knows exactly what he wants to do," said the Dane, reported by James Nursey of the Mirror. "I think we should be contending for the title again this season under him."
While it's unlikely United's current squad can compete for the title, Van Gaal has three weeks to ensure the side is fully prepared before the transfer window closes. Signings are needed across the board, especially if the aforementioned seven are pushed through the exit.
Trust is perhaps the key thing here. United fans will have seen enough of an improvement on the pitch to ensure they will stand by Van Gaal's decisions. Had Moyes left it this late to begin filtering the squad down, many would have been on his back.
Just like the Scottish manager before him, Van Gaal must remember he will be judged on those he brings in before midnight on Sept. 1.