Man Utd’s 25-man squad: Which players to keep and which players to axe

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It’s exactly six years to the day since Manchester United secured their 20th and most-recent Premier League title.

With four games left to play, Robin van Persie’s sensational hat-trick in a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa sealed the title in what would prove to be Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge of the Red Devils.

Who would have imagined back then that, six years later, United would be on their fourth new manager and struggling to finish inside the Premier League’s top four?

United have endured countless low moments in the post-Ferguson era, but Sunday’s embarrassing 4-0 defeat away at Everton is right up there among the worst.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose side only managed one shot on target during the 90 minutes, apologised to the travelling supporters at Goodison Park after the final whistle. He is acutely aware that wholesale changes are essential this summer.

United fans could name all the players they want to keep on the fingers of one hand after Sunday’s performance against the Toffees.

But let’s take a look at which first-team players deserve to stay, and which deserve to be axed, at the end of the campaign.

David de Gea

Verdict: Keep

Look, De Gea has been uncharacteristically poor of late, making a series of mistakes, but he’s still one of the world’s very best goalkeepers - if not *the* best.

The Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018, it would be madness to sell - unless, of course, he wants to go.

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Sergio Romero

Verdict: Keep

The best back-up goalkeeper in the world? It’s important for United that they keep the Argentina international at Old Trafford beyond this summer.

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Lee Grant

Verdict: Release

A good professional by all accounts, but there’s no point renewing the 36-year-old’s contract for another season. Promote one of the young lads instead.

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Eric Bailly

Verdict: Keep

While consistency and fitness have been issues for Bailly during his time at Old Trafford, there’s no denying he’s a centre-back with considerable quality.

Solskjaer should keep him - perhaps as a back-up option, mind, rather than a starter.

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Matteo Darmian

Verdict: Sell

Time to go, Matteo.

The Italian has been with United since 2015 but has never truly convinced during that time. Not good enough for one of the world’s elite clubs.

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Victor Lindelof

Verdict: Keep

Lindelof has improved significantly this season and definitely has a future at Old Trafford.

Not in the same class as great United defenders like Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic - which is exactly what the Red Devils require right now - but a decent option nevertheless.

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Marcos Rojo

Verdict: Sell

Like Darmian, Rojo isn’t good enough for Man Utd.

Only Jose Mourinho can answer why the Argentine was handed a three-year contract extension in March 2018.

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Antonio Valencia

Verdict: Release

He’s been a great servant for Man Utd over the past 10 years but the club’s decision not to trigger the one-year extension in his contract is the right one.

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Phil Jones

Verdict: Sell

Ferguson once said Jones had the potential to become United’s best-ever player, which is surely the Scot’s worst-ever prediction.

While he’s not a terrible defender and seems like a decent lad, he’s not good enough for United.

Would he get into Man City or Liverpool’s starting line-ups? No chance.

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Luke Shaw

Verdict: Keep

Although his United career has been extremely stop-start so far, it wouldn’t make sense to axe Shaw at this stage.

The 23-year-old has enjoyed his best season for the club to date and, at 23, will only improve further over the coming years.

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Chris Smalling

Verdict: Sell

Like his partner in crime, Jones, Smalling falls just below the standards expected of a Man Utd centre-back.

He’s had his moments but we’ve seen enough over the past nine years to know what to expect in the future.

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Ashley Young

Verdict: Sell

At least he cares every time he pulls on the red shirt.

Young can hold his head up high when he leaves Old Trafford - but that time should be this summer, rather than next.

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Diogo Dalot

Verdict: Keep

A full-back with a lot of potential, it’s still very early days in Dalot’s career.

Definitely one for the keep pile.

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Fred

Verdict: Sell

The Brazilian arrived last summer with a big reputation but has failed to deliver.

The 26-year-old, who cost a cool £52 million, hasn’t always looked cut out for the hustle and bustle of Premier League football during his debut campaign.

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Ander Herrera

Verdict: Off to PSG

It’s a shame because he’s a decent midfielder who always gives 100 per cent, but the Spaniard appears to be off to Paris Saint-Germain this summer.

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Juan Mata

Verdict: Release

Tricky one, this.

Mata is an excellent pro, who does some genuinely fantastic work off the pitch, but should he still be in Manchester United’s squad next season?

It wouldn’t be a huge loss if United decide against renewing his contract, which expires this summer.

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Nemanja Matic

Verdict: Sell

Matic’s disastrous performance against Everton is proof that his best days are now firmly behind him.

If there’s a club willing to pay a fee for the midfielder’s services, United should take it.

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Jesse Lingard

Verdict: Keep

Lingard has produced enough good moments over the past 12-18 months to know that he’s worth keeping.

While it could be argued that he shouldn’t be starting week-in, week-out for United, there’s no doubt he’s a decent player for the squad.

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Scott McTominay

Verdict: Keep

His performances in recent weeks clearly show there’s a player there.

He’ll be going nowhere this summer.

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Andreas Pereira

Verdict: Keep

As long as he’s content to play the odd game here and there, it makes sense to keep Pereira at Old Trafford.

The 23-year-old should be given more chances to prove himself before a final decision over his future is made.

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Paul Pogba

Verdict: Keep

United fans are split down the middle over Pogba right now. Some are desperate for him to stay, while others would happily see the back of him.

However, there’s no player in United’s squad with more talent than the French World Cup winner, who has only just turned 26 years old.

With 13 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League alone this season, United would be shooting themselves in the foot by selling Pogba to another of Europe’s elite clubs.

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Romelu Lukaku

Verdict: Sell

Forty-two goals in 94 appearances is an underwhelming return for a striker who cost £75 million.

Lukaku is superb on his day - but those days have been few and far between over the past 12 months.

It’s time for United to sign a new number nine.

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Anthony Martial

Verdict: Keep (Just)

Martial is an 8/10 one week and a 3/10 the next. His attitude is an issue.

That said, it’s hard not to imagine that the 23-year-old would be a success elsewhere if United let him go.

Next season should be Martial’s final opportunity to prove that he really wants to fulfil his potential at Old Trafford.

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Alexis Sanchez

Verdict: Sell

What an absolute disaster he’s been for Man Utd.

Selling him is likely to be a major problem given his eye-watering wages - it’s understood that he’s currently earning around £500,000 a week - and the Red Devils risk being stuck with the Chilean for the next three years.

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Marcus Rashford

Verdict: Keep

A no-brainer, this one.

A local lad with all the tools to become one of Europe’s best forwards, it’s imperative that United tie him down to a new long-term deal.

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