As the football season approaches its finale, another one approaches: ‘silly season’. A time for tabloids, agents, rumour men and wound-down car windows to come to the fore. United have already been linked to plenty of players who no doubt won’t join. Here though, are a few thoughts on those linked with moves away from the club and a prediction of how likely a transfer away could be. (NB I don’t necessarily advocate getting rid of any of the players listed, the scores are based on what I think rather than what I want.)
One of the most frustrating United players in recent years – glimpses of quality are cancelled out by periods of inexplicable averageness and injuries. United fans thought they were signing ‘the next Ronaldinho’ but instead have witnessed the stalled progress of an often overweight box-to-box player. The thing with Anderson though is every time he does get a run of games you remember why you were once excited by him. It’s been suggested he might move on this summer as the club get fed up by his injuries – he’s still highly thought of in Portugal. That said, Fergie’s a fan of his and likely to want to stick by a player he invested a lot in for one more year at least.
Chance of leaving: 3/10
Everyone’s favourite lothario. The genius of a man has never quite ‘worked’ at United, his style and United’s seem to more often than not clash rather than compliment. He’s been close to frozen out this season with very few league starts and has been reduced to league cup outings against minnows. To his credit, he’s never once complained and has acted like the professional many already knew he is. His one year contract extension is surely just to ensure he goes for a fee rather than for free this summer. Even Fergie has hinted/admitted he’s likely to leave in search of first team football.
Chance of leaving: 9/10
Ritchie De Laet
Never signed with the first team truly in mind, De Laet has arguably performed better than expected since joining the club. Injuries and inconsistent performances saw a loan at Norwich cut short this season, confirming that he’s not of the ilk required to be a United player. He’s done ok in the Reserves, particularly as a make-shift striker (a position he used to play growing up) but hasn’t pushed anyone in the first team. He does have one particular quality Fergie would love though, versatility. However that may not be enough to keep him at the club beyond the summer.
Chance of leaving: 7/10
It seems crazy to include Rio on this list but rumours of a move to America or further abroad for big money have been circulating for a while. In his testimonial season and in some of the best form of his career, a move would seem unlikely. Evans has stepped up in Vidic’s absence and shown that long-term he is one answer but whilst Smalling and Jones are still somewhat immature as defenders, Rio’s experience and know-how will be vital for at least another season.
Chance of leaving: 1/10
He may have pinpointed pre-season as the time to attempt a return after his long-term illness was confirmed publicly but Fletcher’s chances of coming back will very much depend on his health. I’m not medical expert so don’t know how likely it is that he could reach the fitness levels required to play in the Premier League but it wouldn’t surprise me if Darren tries and finds he’s unable to hit the standard required. His health must come first and a potential retirement from football into coaching could well happen.
Chance of leaving: 4/10
The Polish international keeper has fallen down the pecking order and is now fourth choice at the club. His goalkeeper qualities tend not to suit those required at United – good distribution and being comfortable with the ball at his feet. His loan move to Watford has indeed been a success for him and he’s had very positive reviews in the Championship. Plenty of clubs are already interested in him and with his contract expiring this summer he’ll leave on a free transfer.
Chance of leaving: 10/10
The young Italian has seen this season go a similar way to the last. A loan move to QPR looked good until the manager was changed and Hughes was given money to buy proven players. As Kiko struggled to get minutes, an ankle injury ruled him out for a month and United took the decision to have it operated on, ending his season. Fergie though is a big fan of his and still believes that he has a future at the club. A good loan next season seems the best move in what could be a make-or-break season. That said, should a sizeable offer come in or a club want him in a part-exchange deal, United may decide to move him on. Personally, I hope he’s given a loan where he plays regularly, he has the potential to be better than a fringe Premier League player.
Chance of leaving: 4/10
Injured. Again. In reality Owen shouldn’t be at United but his lack of complaining and love for horse racing has seen him last three seasons. His contract expires this summer and he may still get a new one for various reasons. United don’t really need him though so he could be sacrificed for younger, hungrier, better, blood.
Chance of leaving: 5/10
Big-game-Park has this season become small-game-Park. As the team’s style has changed, Park’s found himself on the fringes of the squad, often used in a ‘rotated’ team in the smaller games. Work-rate, energy, and tactical discipline are still required but in different ways. Fergie likes his professionalism though and the owners no doubt like the revenue he brings in. Yet, Park retired from international football to focus on club football and now may decide he needs regular minutes – they’re unlikely to be found at United.
Chance of leaving: 6/10
The genius has returned and has, well, been a genius. He’s around until the summer and talk of a new deal has been knocked back with the club publicly suggesting that contract talks will wait until the summer. Given the form he’s in and the importance he has to the side, it seems likely that another year will suit both parties. Another year of the Ginger Prince, please.
Chance of leaving: 2/10