Manchester United Players Who Should Be Sold or Let Go This Summer

Paul Ansorge@@utdrantcastFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2017

Manchester United Players Who Should Be Sold or Let Go This Summer

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    Three out of these four should leave this summer. Who is the odd man out?
    Three out of these four should leave this summer. Who is the odd man out?Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    The January transfer window saw Jose Mourinho and Manchester United take action to thin out their squad. Neither Morgan Schneiderlin nor Memphis Depay were anywhere near the top of the United manager's pecking order in their positions, and it made sense for all concerned that they head for pastures new.

    In truth, United's squad is not left carrying a lot of dead weight, at least not in terms of players on the books who will not play. Of those still at the club, only Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Timothy Fosu-Mensah have made fewer than 10 league appearances this season.

    Two of those should have a bright future at United, although it is far from clear whether Mourinho agrees with that analysis. The other two feature here as players who should look elsewhere for more football.

    There are also players getting plenty of action this season whom United should be thinking about upgrading.

    Let's take a look at the players the Red Devils should look to shift in the summer.

Players United Should Definitely Not Sell

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    Lingard is far too useful to sell.
    Lingard is far too useful to sell.Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

    Before we do, a quick word about a couple of players United should keep. Antonio Valencia might have been in consideration for this list a year ago, but he has turned things around and looks set for another season as first-choice right-back in 2017/18.

    Jesse Lingard is not universally popular with supporters—as any look at social media or comments sections around the internet will reveal when he is selected in the first XI—but he is a productive squad player. He is this generation's Park Ji-Sung. Sir Alex Ferguson would have loved having him around.

    And it goes almost without saying that Shaw and Anthony Martial should be kept in spite of whatever is happening between them and Mourinho to stop them being the automatic first-choice selections they should be.

    With that out of the way, let's get to the outgoings.

Wayne Rooney

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    Rooney has no more worlds left to conquer at Old Trafford.
    Rooney has no more worlds left to conquer at Old Trafford.PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

    We start the show with a showstopper.

    Wayne Rooney should be moved on this summer.

    He has done it all at United. He has won almost every club competition it would have been possible for him to win. He has, of course, become the club's all-time leading goalscorer. That is worth taking an extra moment to consider. No one has scored more goals for Manchester United than Rooney. He will be forever remembered at Old Trafford.

    But like a heavyweight boxer with a couple too many fights under his belt, Rooney is starting to stagger. His performances this season have seen him drop to the bench. He has managed some decent cameos, and the odd good 90 minutes, but nowhere near enough to justify his status as one of the club's top earners.

    And that remarkable record he set became a war of attrition. There was no blaze of glory. He started the season five goals from the top of the United all-time goalscoring charts, and it took him until January 21 to get there.

    He is scoring fewer goals every season. His overall performances are hardly making up for that. United have plenty of huge names to take up the commercial slack after he leaves.

    He still has something to offer. Keeping him around for another season would not be a disaster. But there would be a simplicity and timeliness to letting him go now, letting others step up in terms of leadership, and allowing better players than the player he is now to take his place on the pitch.

    He has nothing left to prove at Old Trafford and should embark on his next adventure.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

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    Schweinsteiger should leave in search of a team that would better use his talents.
    Schweinsteiger should leave in search of a team that would better use his talents.PAUL ELLIS/Getty Images

    And speaking of embarking on a new adventure...

    Schweinsteiger's time at United was supposed to be exactly that. This one is, of course, a lot less controversial than the idea of moving Rooney on.

    Mourinho has relented and allowed the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner back into the first-team fold, but the midfielder has not made a Premier League appearance, and there would seem next to no chance that will change come next season.

    While there would seem to be a role for him as a back-up to Michael Carrick between now and the summer, Mourinho surely will not see him as a long-term option.

Ashley Young

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    Young has been extremely peripheral to United this season.
    Young has been extremely peripheral to United this season.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Another easy choice here is Young. The former Watford man seems a popular figure in the United camp, though he is far from universally beloved by supporters. He has never set the world alight at United, apart from the occasional long-range stunner. 

    He has, however, been a useful and versatile squad player and has always seemed to be giving his all for the cause.

    He is, though, a long way down the pecking order in any of the positions he is a candidate for. It is perhaps a little surprising that he did not move in January. A summer move seems almost inevitable.

Chris Smalling

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    Smalling is fourth-choice centre-back at United.
    Smalling is fourth-choice centre-back at United.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    This may be a little more controversial, but United should consider an upgrade on Chris Smalling. The former Fulham man had a wonderful calendar year in 2015, becoming United's most important centre-back.

    Getting himself sent off against Manchester City in November 2014 seemed to act as a catalyst for him to get his act together, and his form was impressive and consistent until he picked up an injury early in 2016.

    Since then, though, he has been pretty patchy.

    In and out of the side this season, his performances have been defined by lapses in concentration—the first few seconds against Chelsea in October's 4-0 loss at Stamford Bridge being a prime example.

    He is fourth-choice behind Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Marcos Rojo, meaning the kind of extended run in the side he would need to get back on track seems unlikely. An upgrade could be a valuable addition to the squad. Smalling is a decent player, but has he proved good enough to help take United back to the top?

Adnan Januzaj

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    Januzaj should move on for his own sake.
    Januzaj should move on for his own sake.Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    Adnan Januzaj was excellent as Sunderland beat Crystal Palace 4-0 on Saturday, providing two assists from the No. 10 position, which would still seem to be his most natural.

    However, those two assists were the exception to the rule, tripling his total for the season, which now stands at three. He is averaging a reasonable 1.8 key passes per 90 minutes in the league for the Black Cats, per, but to nail down a place in United's future, he probably needed better than an OK season at Sunderland.

    There is so much attacking talent in Mourinho's squad that Januzaj, as bright a spark as he provided when he emerged onto the scene, just seems surplus to requirements. It is a shame, but a permanent move in the summer—especially if a buy-back clause can be included—now seems the best option.

Matteo Darmian

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    Darmian: A utility full-back whom United should be looking to upgrade.
    Darmian: A utility full-back whom United should be looking to upgrade.Rui Vieira/Associated Press

    Matteo Darmian has made nine league starts and one substitute appearance for United this season, filling in at left and right-back when needed.

    The net return on those appearances has been pretty minimal.

    He has offered almost nothing going forward, and his defending is not at the level it would need to be to justify that lack of contribution from full-back. It may be that he hangs on for another season as United choose other areas of the squad to strengthen, but few would mourn the Italy international's departure. Barring a Valencia-esque improvement in form, a sale seems inevitable.

Marouane Fellaini

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    Marouane Fellaini has his moments, but are there enough?
    Marouane Fellaini has his moments, but are there enough?Associated Press

    And finally, the big Fella.

    Marouane Fellaini obviously has something to offer the United squad. He is a unique battering ram, an excellent option to bring on in the last 20 minutes of games against stubborn opponents.

    But he is also an occasional liability, as witnessed against Everton at Goodison Park back in December where he conceded an unnecessary penalty which earned the Toffeemen a draw.

    He is also quite a bad midfielder, often damaging the momentum of United's possession when he plays in that role, giving the ball away, conceding untimely fouls that relieve pressure on opponents or taking the overly safe option just at the wrong moment.

    His presence has an opportunity cost, as it stops United playing the way they can at their current best. He cannot hang with Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Juan Mata, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ander Herrera when it comes to interchanges of passing around the box.

    If he is happy with an occasional late cameo as a Plan B (or, C, D, E or F), perhaps there is an argument for keeping him, but in general, the downside of his performances have significantly outweighed the upside during his time at Old Trafford so far, and that seems unlikely to change in the future.