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Manchester United: The weeding out begins

Much in contrast to the scintillating manner in which his tenure at Old Trafford began, for Manchester United coach Ole Gunnar Solskaer, the last couple months have been nothing short of a nightmare. After a run of 17 unbeaten games across all forms of competition, the Red Devils managed just 3 wins from their 16 games in a horrific spell starting from mid-March to May. 

The heat was on Solskaer to act on pricey players like Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku who plummeted from being club stars to liabilities overnight. A club that was aiming to make it to the Top Four of the Premier League and into the next season’s UEFA Champions League were simply struggling not to slip down from the 6th position in which they ended the season. But the management still see something in coach Solskaer that could make things turn around in the 2019-20 season. The 46-year old Norwegian manager could end up getting a war chest of close to £200million what with a slew of senior players slated to leave the club.

Veteran mid-fielder Ander Herrera has made clear his intentions to leave Old Trafford and is in fact set to join French champions, Paris St. Germain, when his contract expires in May-end. The 29-year old Spaniard will earn a wage of £200,000-a-week in Paris. There are rumors surrounding a possible Paul Pogba exit to Real Madrid or even Juventus. The French international, who was a part of the World Cup winning French team has had a below-par season at the best with United but has made no secret of his desire to join Spanish giants and 11-time UEFA Champions League winners, Real Madrid.

Last season’s captain and defender Antonio Valencia, 33, is also nearing the end of his contract and is set to depart after having spent a decade with the club. The Ecuadorean right-back who just featured in 9 games for United in the 2018-19 season could make way for 21-year old Crystal Palace back Aaron Wan-Bissaka in whom Solskaer is showing a lot of interest.

In case of 31-year old Spanish international Juan Mata, the United management could be willing to work out a new deal. With the attacking mid-fielder out of his contract presently and offers pouring in from various European clubs, Solskaer will have to think out of the box to keep Mata at Old Trafford. The Norwegian coach still believes that Mata may have a role to play with United next season. 

Another big exit on the cards could be that of Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian who had arrived two years ago from Everton on a £75m deal got off to a prolific start at Old Trafford scoring 27 goals in the 2017-18 season, but saw his form plummeting big time in the following season. The 26-year old was seen warming benches and making way for more enterprising forwards like Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. 

Luckily for Romelu Lukaku, Italian club Inter-Milan seem to be evincing interest but are constrained by a budget that amounts to just £44m at present. Reports suggest that United value Lukaku between €60m (£52m) and €70m (£61m). But a swap deal with Inter striker Mauro Icardi could be on the cards where the 26-year old Argentine could be on his way to Old Trafford to step into Lukaku’s shoes. Icardi was Inter’s top scorer with 17 goals in 2018-19 and he could just be the kind of player United are looking for in a upfield role.

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