Stay or go? Van Gaal set to axe seven Manchester United stars
Media reports suggest Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal (11/2 to win the FA Cup) is set to wield his axe once again this summer and stage yet another clear out of the Red Devils’ ranks, with seven stars being tipped to depart.
Many of the players mooted for moves are in or entering the last 18 months of their contracts, so coach Van Gaal could be ready to cash-in, but is another exodus really wise?
Here, we contemplate which out-of-favour Red Devils should be retained and who should be ushered to the exit.
Jonny Evans (Stay)
The injury-prone Northern Ireland international has undoubtedly struggled for form this season, with utility man Daley Blind recently favoured as first pick left-sided centre back.
Academy product Evans is still excellent on the ball, however, and should be given the chance to play himself back into contention. When fit he is adept at building from the back and is at worst a valuable squad player.
Radamel Falcao (Go)
The fearsome forward, formally known as Falcao, has failed to impress since his summer arrival, but has, in fairness, been hindered by a knee problem and lack of match fitness.
If his poor showings continue, the on-loan Colombia hitman should be allowed to seek pastures new, but the ex-Atletico Madrid frontman should first be given more of a chance to prove himself.
Adnan Januzaj (Stay)
One of last season’s standout stars, Januzaj has fallen foul of Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation, with seemingly no space in the starting XI for the highly-rated Belgium attacker.
Still learning his craft, the Old Trafford-reared talent should be allowed to leave on a rumoured loan deal, but offloading the youngster permanently would surely come back to haunt United.
Phil Jones (Stay)
A victim of his own versatility, Jones has suffered from being constantly shunted out of his natural role as a centre half to both right back and defensive midfield positions.
Now considered a Jack-of-all-trades and master of none, the 22-year-old, once tipped to be United’s best ever player and likened to Duncan Edwards by Sir Alex Ferguson, should be retained and given an extended run at the heart of defence.
Should he shine elsewhere, the tenacious defender could be a huge loss.
Robin van Persie (Go)
This is a tricky call, as Van Gaal’s protege can still provide world class moments of quality on his day. However, the Dutchman’s lack of pace and penchant for going missing in games is becoming a problem.
If the Red Devils receive a tempting offer for Van Persie, 31, who has just 17 months left on his contract, it may be best to take the money and invest in the future, with James Wilson already waiting in the wings.
If rumours of interest in Seamus Coleman and Nathaniel Clyne are true, United (odds-on at 4/9 for a top four finish) should bid goodbye to their flying Brazilian full back, who may benefit from a move himself.
Rafael has spent far too much of his Old Trafford career on the treatment table and it could be time for the club to cut its losses.
Chris Smalling (Stay)
It seems as though at least one of the Red Devils’ still-developing centre backs will be shipped off this summer. Not as comfortable in possession as his peers, Smalling may be the most likely to be sacrificed, but Van Gaal should think twice.
Whilst not a great passer, much-maligned Smalling has arguably been one of United’s most consistent defenders this term. That’s not saying much, but the former Fulham man still has potential.