Which players will leave Manchester United? 10 players who could be off before next season

Jesse Lingard and Cristiano Ronaldo
(Image credit: Getty)

The season isn't quite turning out as Manchester United expect. This star-studded squad with attacking quality and experienced players throughout hit a roadblock early on under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – and little has improved since.

Yet Ole won't be alone in packing his bags. Just how sustainable is a squad that includes two, sometimes three world-class talents in every attacking position?

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Plenty of stars face an uncertain future – and some of them are more unexpected than others…

1. Paul Pogba

The "will he, won't he" soap opera is becoming ever more tiresome by the week - especially for Manchester United fans.

Paul Pogba is one of the most naturally talented footballers in the world and when he's at his best, he's a creative centrepiece in United's side – see those seven assists in the early stages of the season. But while the French midfielder is undoubtedly talented, he's a lightning rod for criticism, a luxury attacker and his move to the left-wing has prompted questions about what his best position is in a United team that seemingly has no room for him. 

Pogba has reported swung to and fro over signing a new contract at Old Trafford and extending his stay past next season. The United hierarchy don't know what to do with him, either. The World Cup winner is free to talk to other clubs and it doesn't seem like he'll missed all that much by many fans, should he depart in the summer.

2. Jesse Lingard

Jesse Lingard

(Image credit: PA)

A United boy, born and bred, who's been on loan a handful of times and has plenty of admirers across the division, Jesse Lingard's saga has been a confusing footnote in a particularly bizarre season on the red side of Manchester.

Having bolstered his value on loan at West Ham United last season, Lingard was in a prime position to find a good move for himself, only for Solskjaer to announce he had a part to play this season. So what was it? The attacker's barely featured, looking good when he does, but seemingly drifting out of international contention with every benching. 

Lingard's trust with his employers must be close to rock bottom, right now. Another free agent this summer, there's virtually no incentive to signing on again with his boyhood club after the flip-flopping he's faced this season. He should have gone in January and he almost certainly won't be extending his stay now. 

3. Juan Mata

Juan Mata

(Image credit: PA)

A forgotten man among flashier stars, Juan Mata still has a locker at the United training ground – but he too is out of contract come this summer, when he'll turn 34.

Mata has been a great servant for United, somehow outliving Jose Mourinho and being a fringe star under Solskjaer. But few are under the delusion that Mata's Red Devils career is thriving these days and he seems destined to depart sooner rather than later.

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Mata only made 18 appearances in all competitions last season and has played less this season. 

4. Eric Bailly

Manchester United's Eric Bailly celebrates at the final whistle after the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester.

(Image credit: PA Images)

Incredibly, Eric Bailly has been a Manchester United player for six years now.

Yet in all that time, Bailly has failed to establish himself as a particularly reliable presence, since injury and erratic defending has rendered him the fourth-choice centre-back at the club behind Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane. 

With a contract that winds up in 2024, this summer would be the perfect time to try and recoup at least some of the £30m that United dropped on the Ivorian, while bringing in a new breed of defender. 

5. Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani

(Image credit: PA)

After convincing Edinson Cavani to extend his stay in England last summer and his re-signing feeling like a genuine coup for United, the Uruguayan has since been pushed almost entirely out of the frame, with his squad number redistributed.

Cavani will be 35 when his contract winds up – and this time, he probably won't be staying. It's a shame considering how popular the forward was with fans and teammates alike.

6. Anthony Martial

Manchester United striker Anthony Martial

(Image credit: Getty)

Anthony Martial has a clause in his contract should he win the Ballon d'Or. It doesn't seem likely right now that he'll even make it onto a shortlist. 

Currently on loan at Sevilla – and possibly facing West Ham in the Europa League this week – the Frenchman reached a point at Old Trafford where he was struggling to even come off the bench to affect play. Given that Solskjaer's entire tactic seemed to revolve around game-changers, it was never going to bode well, was it?

Either way, Martial seems another victim of United's post-Fergie struggles in attack. Finding a move away did the likes of Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay a lot of good: it will probably help Martial, too. 

7. Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Manchester United defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice

(Image credit: Getty)

This season has been a disappointing one for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who's found himself relegated behind Diogo Dalot in the pecking order, as Ralf Rangnick tinkers in search of a solution.

It doesn't seem like the next manager could find much use for him either. Erik Ten Hag, Mauricio Pochettino and Graham Potter – all linked with the role long-term – prefer a more attacking full-back and with AWB still just 24, moving him on might seem like the sensible option while he can still command a fee.

There's no denying that the right-back has his uses as a defensive player – but with the Red Devils looking to control games more and needing attacking thrust from that position, it doesn't make sense to keep a depreciating asset. 

8. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

(Image credit: Getty)

Yep – him. 

The second coming started with a bang and has seen some incredible moments already, as Cristiano Ronaldo has been the man for the moment in the Champions League. But with Manchester United facing a top-four fight, should form decline much further, is CR7 going to stick around to play Europa League football?

Ronaldo only signed a two-year deal and envisioned winning trophies with United. But not playing in what he believes to be his competition? That's damaging to his brand and he's not the type to stick around if United don't match his lofty status, as Juventus found out last year summer. 

There will be no shortage of suitors either, should Ronaldo decide someone else can provide him a better platform. Kylian Mbappe's probably leaving Paris Saint-Germain in the summer… should we brace ourselves for a bid for another star no.7?

9. Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford

(Image credit: Getty)

Him, too. Marcus Rashford is apparently unhappy about his lack of playing time and with the England star one of the most valuable players in the entire squad, United might want to shift him at his peak to make way for an entirely new era.

Rashford has been particularly poor this season, delivering just five goals following his disappointing Euros campaign. Where does he fit into this squad? And will the next manager see a place for an underperforming superstar, simply because he came through the academy?

These are testing times for a number of top forwards at the Red Devils but Rashford is arguably in the strangest position of them all. With just two years left on his deal, there are some big decisions to be made. 

10. Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire, Manchester United

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Go on Twitter, search for "Maguire worst signing" and you'll be greeted with plenty of fans who believe that the centre-back is possibly an all-time low for United in the transfer market. 

The transfer fee is partly to blame, while Roy Keane's rants about the Red Devils' club captain certainly don't help. Rumours are rife that Ronaldo has complained about Maguire, too, and with Old Trafford set for a potential culture shift this summer, old 'Slabhead' might be one of the highest-profile casualties.

United won't make that £80m up but are at a crossroads and no one is safe from the chop. Will the next Manchester United manager agree with the mob on social media over Maguire?

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.