Jose Mourinho appears to have changed his mind over Daley Blind and Juan Mata after deciding to retain their services for the Premier League season ahead.
The Daily Record claim the two senior Manchester United players have earned a stay of execution after impressing the Special One during his first few months in charge.
It completes a U-turn from Mourinho, who had originally put both the Dutchman and the Spaniard up for sale as part of a clear out of high-earners. United are still trying to find buyers for Marcos Rojo and Bastian Schweinsteiger but Mourinho has told Blind and Mata they are now in his plans.
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There is still a feeling that the squad is both overpaid and over-manned, but Mourinho is struggling to shift some of the deadwood after the arrival of his four "fundamental" summer signings.
Paul Pogba's transfer from Juventus saw Schweinsteiger moved to the Under-21s changing room but if they cannot find someone to absorb his wages, he is likely to be there for much longer than originally planned.
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Despite being told he will not play for the first team, the former Bayern Munich man will be in no rush to leave. He still has two years remaining on a deal worth a reported £7m-a-season, something he is unlikely to forfeit. Similarly, Rojo is on a bloated wage handed to him by Louis van Gaal and few clubs have expressed an interest in matching it.
Currently, United have 31 footballers with Premier League experience, plus reserve keeper Sam Johnstone. That is nine more than Mourinho would ideally have and the situation is made harder by the fact that Mata was probably the most likely to leave in the first place.
Everton had expressed an interest in signing him even though they would not go close to matching the £37.1m United originally paid Chelsea in 2014.
But despite a rocky start in the Community Shield, where Mata was substituted only 26 minutes after coming off the bench, it is believed the diminutive playmaker has at least a season to finally win Mourinho over.
Blind pulls a blinder
Blind has come over sizeable hurdles to get himself safe from Mourinho's axe. Starting in defence against Bournemouth, the former Ajax man became one of the smallest players ever to start in one of Mourinho's defensive lines, but the Portuguese has been left surprised by his application in training.
There is a firm admiration for his supreme tactical intelligence, which was so regularly mentioned by Mourinho's predecessor. His performance alongside Eric Bailly on Sunday was promising with Mourinho describing the defence as "fantastic" after sealing a 3-1 win.
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