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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 has hit a roadblock - and now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faces questions over his position as manager.

Yet Ole may not 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. 

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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 from January, though - 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 is it? The attacker's barely featured, looking good when he does, but seemingly drifting out of international contention with every benching. 

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Lingard's trust with his employers must be close to rock bottom, right now. Another free agent next summer, there's virtually no incentive to signing on again with his boyhood club after the flip-flopping he's faced this season. He might demand to go in January - and United might be wise to accept or lose him for nothing in the summer. 

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 next summer, when he'll turn 34.

Mata has been a great servant for United, somehow outliving Jose Mourinho - and he may well have played under four managers (that's insane), by the time he leaves the club. 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 only featured once this term, in the League Cup. 

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)

Eric Bailly's Manchester United contract runs out in 2024 - but given how the Ivorian has dropped to fourth in the pecking order of United's centre-backs, he might not be around at Old Trafford that much longer. 

Despite recent injuries to Raphael Varane and Harry Maguire, Solskjaer opted not to use Bailly in the Premier League, only giving him a runout against Atalanta this week, despite giving him a new contract recently. Maguire has even been rushed back early: why is Bailly still at the club if he's not rated by the manager? 

It doesn't seem probable that a new manager will think differently either. 

Bailly has had an injury-prone time in Manchester after Mourinho brought him in during his first transfer window and with Varane and Maguire the first-choice pair, Victor Lindelof a more reliable option and Axel Tuanzebe impressing on loan, there doesn't room for Bailly anymore. 

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 next June but may not stick around till that long, now he's second to Cristiano Ronaldo. It's a shame considering how popular the forward was with fans and teammates alike.

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Solskjaer has found a way to crowbar them both in - but for how long? Even if he does have a good season, Cavani could still exit, leaving United with their best presser once more next summer. 

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. 

Martial has blown hot and mostly cold since his big-money Monaco move, losing a permanent spot in the first XI as Mason Greenwood began showing brighter form on the other flank. The Frenchman hasn't made either of France's last two international tournament squads and with reported interest from Newcastle United, it seems like a good opportunity to revive a flailing career.

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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 would probably help Martial, too. 

7. Diogo Dalot

Diogo Dalot, AC Milan - April 2021

(Image credit: PA Images)

Manchester United bid for Kieran Trippier over the summer, only for Trippier to reportedly tell them to sort a fee with Atletico or he wouldn't move.

United never did agree a deal - but it highlighted that they perhaps didn't rate Diogo Dalot much anymore, who spent last season in Milan on loan and hasn't got into the team by Ole Gunnar Solksjaer's choice this time.

The Portuguese right-back signed from Porto in 2018 but has never cemented a place, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka signed just 12 months later. There are concerns over Wan-Bissaka in some circles too, with his attacking output questioned - but with Dalot having made just 41 appearances for United, it doesn't seem like he's the answer to challenge for the starting right-back berth.

Dalot will have a year left on his deal next summer. United spent £20m on his services - and will probably want to recoup at least some of that before losing him for free. 

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. 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 over the 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. Fred

FIFA 22

(Image credit: Getty)

Poor Fred. The Brazilian has never won over the doubters at Old Trafford, joining for an eyewatering £53m. One of these days, United will learn that simply outbidding Manchester City isn't a reliable transfer strategy. 

Fred has found relative success alongside Scott McTominay in big games but with United's need for a true defensive midfielder becoming ever-more evident by the week, one of the two will have to make way for a shiny new toy. Both 28-year-old Fred and 33-year-old Nemanja Matic have contracts ending in 2023 - and with both sat on the bench next season, surely United extract more return for the younger of the two.

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United wouldn't miss Fred much if they were to sign an Ndidi or a Rice - and next summer might be the last chance to get £10-20m for a serviceable midfielder who's still capable at Premier League memory. 

10. Donny van de Beek

Donny van de Beek

(Image credit: PA)

Things just haven't worked out at Manchester United for Donny van de Beek, who scored on his debut but has barely been given a run of games in the year or so since. The Dutchman missed out on Euro 2020 and won't want to rot in United's squad waiting for the ever-present Bruno Fernandes to pick up a knock. 

Van de Beek came very close to leaving United in the summer on loan to Everton and probably won't pass a second chance, whether that comes in January or the summer. The Red Devils paid £35m for midfielder - there are some clubs who would consider paying close to that, now. 

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Solskjaer still isn't willing to give him a chance, even with other players floundering around him. VDB's unhappy time in the rainy city can't continue much longer.

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