Manchester United need a squad clear out this summer and while several players will leave on free transfers, selling stars is not always easy.
United have a number of players on expensive, long contracts, and as the club have discovered, getting rid of them can be a long process.
United had to cut ties with Marcos Rojo by mutual consent to get him off the books last year, and this summer could be long drawn out process.
We have put together a list of the ‘seven most difficult players to sell’. Erik ten Hag may want to keep some of these players, but if he decides he wishes to sell, it could be tricky…
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United have been trying to sell Andreas Pereira for at least two years now, after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ill-fated decision to extend his contract in 2019 to run to 2023.
Pereira has been on loan at Lazio and most recently Flamengo. There were reports in Brazil earlier this year United were close to agreeing a permanent sale to Flamengo, but Esporte now claim this has fallen through.
With Pereira set to return to United when his loan expires, we can look forward to the ‘Pre-season Pirlo’ doing the business again this summer, which hopefully may attract a bidder. But even after scoring a wonder goal last summer against Brentford, all United could muster was a season long loan.
We doubt bidders are queuing up, and United may have to settle for selling Pereira for as little as £5 million.
Anthony Martial’s stock has fallen a lot in the last year, losing his place in the France international squad along the way.
United found it difficult to loan Martial in January due to his £250,000 per week wages. For a club to pay a transfer fee on top of that, is a big ask, unless the forward agrees to a salary cut. Martial’s contract runs until 2024.
His loan to Sevilla was a chance for Martial to put himself in the shop window and attract summer bidders. Instead it has had the opposite impact.
He has scored just one goal in 11 matches, and suffered two injuries. Martial has not been worth Sevilla’s investment, and United would not be able to command a high fee for him. Another loan could be likely.
Eric Bailly could have been released on a free transfer this summer, if not for the ill-fated decision to extend his contract to 2024.
The defender has made just three league starts this season, and has a woeful injury record which has seen him make just 113 appearances for the club in six seasons.
Bailly is another player who may have to be loaned out due to his salary, or at the least, would not generate a large fee.
United would undoubtedly make a loss on the £30 million paid to Villarreal for his services in 2016.
Challenge: Sell Phil Jones. Difficulty rating: Impossible.
Jones was implausibly signed to a new contract in 2019 which runs until summer 2023. His injury record and wages also makes him a high risk for teams to take on.
It really would be in Jones’ best interests if United terminated his contract this summer to allow him to find a new club.
The Manchester Evening News reported last summer that Jones was considered ‘unsellable’ by United. It would come as no surprise if he got injured before the transfer window.
Let’s say Erik ten Hag does not like Harry Maguire and urges Manchester United to sell him, do the club have the stomach to admit a mistake?
Maguire cost United a staggering £80 million, and while there may be interest from clubs in the England international, no club would surely offer United the same amount.
So this would come down to the ego of United’s board. Selling Maguire for £40 to £50 million would represent admission of failure, a big loss three years after the defender was signed and made captain.
United’s pride may see the club back away from a sale, and Maguire could retain his place in the squad simply by default.
David de Gea
Another first team regular, David de Gea is a very difficult player for United to sell due to his his wages and limited destinations.
De Gea earns a reported £375,000 per week, which The Mirror reports makes him the highest paid goalkeeper in the world.
Of the few clubs who could afford to pay his wages, PSG, Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, none of them are actively looking for a goalkeeper.
De Gea’s contract expires in 2023 and United have an interesting decision upcoming. If he is given another long-term deal, the club will have to be certain, because it will remain very difficult to get rid of him once he signs, should United decide to.
Cristiano Ronaldo has one year left on his contract left to run, and while he looks like he wants to stay at Old Trafford, he is not blessed with options.
Juventus and Real Madrid have both moved on since he left, and he would not sign for a rival Spanish or English club.
PSG may be the only club who could afford him, but a link-up with long time rival Lionel Messi seems unlikely to say the least.
A return to Sporting may be possible, but Ronaldo would have to make a sacrifice. He earns a wage of around £500,000 per week at United, claim The Mirror. Sporting would only be able to earn a fraction of this.
United have an option to extend Ronaldo’s deal for a further 12 months, but could choose to release him in 2023. Selling him this summer though, would clearly be complicated.