Why the Manchester United squad rebuild in the transfer window is on schedule
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his Manchester United rebuild is on schedule as the club prepares to offload more squad players before the European transfer window closes.
Alexis Sanchez has completed a 10-month loan to Inter Milan and United have agreed to let Chris Smalling join Roma on loan. The MEN also revealed Matteo Darmian’s representatives are also working on a return to Italy ahead of the European deadline on Monday.
The MEN previously reported Solskjaer felt United would need two summer windows to discard unwanted players and the majority could be shifted temporarily or permanently before Monday.
It is understood Solskjaer has settled on a core first-team squad with experienced players that is topped up with the club’s standout young players. Solskjaer prioritised youth over experience with the recruitment reboot and has applied that approach in deciding the outgoings.
A source told the MEN Smalling, 29, was informed he would not get much playing time before the season started. Smalling was unused in three of United’s six pre-season matches and has been overlooked for the three Premier League matchday squads so far this season.
Solskjaer reiterated to him on Thursday he would not get regular playing time after the £80million signing of Harry Maguire and return of Axel Tuanzebe. United have settled on playing out from the back as part of their style change and England coach Gareth Southgate cut Smalling from the England squad nearly two years ago due to his questionable distribution.
United told fellow centre half Marcos Rojo he was still free to leave after a domestic deadline day move to Everton fell through but the expectation is he will stay. Rojo, 28, signed a three-year contract 17 months ago but has made only five starts since and United have attempted to sell him in the summer windows last year and this year.
Inter do not have an option to buy Sanchez, 30, for a fixed fee upon the expiration of his loan from United, in case he performs well enough that his valuation soars in an already inflated market. Sanchez is contracted to United until 2022 and Inter are understood to be paying three-quarters of Sanchez’s £400,000 weekly wage.
Solskjaer is believed to have decided Sanchez was surplus to requirements around five months ago and United were concerned Sanchez could have had a negative influence if he had stayed.
United wanted to sell Darmian, 28, in the summer window last year and only activated the one-year extension in his contract to tie him until 2020 with a view to obtaining a fee this summer.
Darmian has started 10 times for United since the start of 2018 and his playing time prospects have decreased following the £45million signing of Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Next year, United are expected to release Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Lee Grant and Ashley Young could also leave, since they are out of contract at the end of the season. It is unclear if United will take up the additional year option in Nemanja Matic’s contract. Rojo and Phil Jones will be vulnerable as United will still have seven centre halves once Smalling has returned from Roma.
Solskjaer’s long-term plan could be compromised by the future of Paul Pogba amid his desire to leave the club. Pogba has entered the last two years of his United deal but the club has the option of an additional year to extend until 2022.
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