Manchester United Planning Defensive Clear Out This Summer?
Up to four first-team defenders could be leaving Manchester United before next season as Jose Mourinho plans a summer clear out of his rear-guard options, according to the latest transfer talk in the national press.
Red Devils and England left-back Luke Shaw is out of contract at the end of the 2018/19 campaign; Juventus counterpart Alex Sandro is the latest name linked with replacing him. Mourinho and Shaw have reportedly had a difficult relationship with the manager preferring Ashley Young – a winger by trade – in his position for much of this season.
Brazil international Sandro has emerged as the main Red Devils target, meanwhile, ahead of Danny Rose, who has played a reduced role at Tottenham Hotspur this term after falling out with Mauricio Pochettino, and Celtic’s three-time young Scottish player of the year Kieran Tierney.
Injuries and fitness issues have hampered Shaw’s four years at Old Trafford. With Everton and Spurs thought to be looking for a new left back, this summer could be the time for him to move on; provided United can recoup the £30,000,000 transfer fee they paid Southampton in 2014.
It’s not just Shaw who looks set to be moving on from Man Utd, 6/1 chances in the outright Premier League betting for next season. Fellow left-footer Daley Blind and another versatile defender in Matteo Darmian are rumoured to have been told both are free to leave before next term.
Netherlands utility man Blind can play at fullback, centre-half and in midfield is now a reported target for Champions League semi-finalists Roma and would be willing to take a pay cut. He hasn’t started a Premier League game for nine months and is thought to be valued around the £15,000,000 mark.
A similar fee would be enough to entice United into selling Italy defender Darmian, with Juventus said to be long-time admirers of the former Torino full back. He remains an Azzurri regular despite finding Antonio Valencia undisputed first-choice right back at club level.
Both Blind and Darmian, like Shaw, have one more year left on their Red Devils contracts, so it’s a case of sell now or letting them leave for nothing in the summer of 2019. One player who isn’t in that position is centre-back Eric Bailly.
The Ivory Coast defender is concerned about his United future after losing his place in the team and then the squad. It’s been an injury-hit second season at Old Trafford for Bailly, who was the first player signed by Mourinho when he became Red Devils manager, thanks to a concussion and an ankle injury.
With two years left of the four-year deal he penned when joining from Villarreal, only fellow centre-backs Victor Lindelof and Marcos Rojo are contracted for longer. Bailly last played when Man Utd came from 2-0 to beat local rivals Manchester City 3-2 and delay their coronation as Premier League champions.
Concerns are growing Mourinho has frozen him out with England pair Phil Jones and Chris Smalling now back in favour, but Bailly also has Lindelof to contend with in an area where United have depth.