Louis van Gaal may have wielded the axe and cleared a number of players from Manchester United’s books, but it would appear that his squad cull may not stop that.
According to the London Evening Standard United chiefs are waiting to receive instructions from the new Red Devils boss which will determine the futures of five first-team players.
The contracts of Robin van Persie, David de Gea, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans will have but a year to run by this time next year, and so United are keen to decide either way whether or not they will be offered new deals.
However, in appointing Van Gaal as head coach the powers that be surrendered any sort of control they may have had over the squad, and so they are leaving the choice solely up to him.
The Dutchman will have the final say on who stays and who is allowed to leave in this respect, as he continues his project with an aim to transforming United back into perennial Premier League title challengers.
Jones, Smalling and Evans
Following the departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic the trio of Jones, Smalling and Evans are more vital to the current setup than even they probably would have expected.
With Van Gaal having been unable to acquire an experienced centre-half during the summer transfer window there remains a worrying lack of leadership at the back, and it will be interesting to see whether or not the 63-year-old deems any of the current central defenders worthy moving forward.
Jones has been a fan favourite for some time now and has always found himself tipped for big things, which should be enough to convince Van Gaal that he is worth keeping. Smalling and Evans on the other hand have yet to prove they can thrive under the immense pressure being a United player entails, and so their futures are rather more suspect.
With regards to De Gea it won’t have taken Van Gaal too long to realise that he has one of the most promising stoppers in the world at his fingertips.
Voted the club’s Player of the Year last term the young Spaniard has adapted well to Premier League football, and it would be a major shock were he to be snubbed. It’s more likely he’ll be handed a new deal before this year is out, so as to put an end to speculation that he could become Iker Casillas’ replacement at Real Madrid.
Then finally there’s Van Persie, who has experienced a somewhat surprising fall in his stock recently. Prior to the World Cup the Holland international was being labelled as a dead cert to be handed the role of United’s next captain and now, following the arrival of Radamel Falcao, he’s in danger of being frozen out.
At the age of 31 Van Persie could well find himself shifted so that Falcao and Wayne Rooney can form a partnership which promises more longevity. The chances are that he’ll see out his current deal, but it wouldn’t be a major shock if he were sold whilst he still retains some market value.