Mata, Fellaini & the nine Man Utd stars who could leave for free this summer

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Goal looks at the players whose deals are due to end, which of them could leave and who might still be at Old Trafford come 2018-19

It's a little over 22 years since the Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman won a landmark case in the European Court of Justice which allowed footballers to break free of clubs at the end of their contracts, and the pre-contract agreement which has since been brought into the game means that from January 1 players with expiring deals can sign with potential new employers six months ahead of a move.

This January, Manchester United find themselves in the kind of position many clubs have been left in since the Bosman Ruling came into effect, with as many as nine of their players holding contracts which are due to expire at the end of the current season.

The one thing they do have going for them is that six of the nine involved have club-option extension clauses written into their deals, which allows the Old Trafford hierarchy the freedom to add 12 months to their contracts if they are unwilling to let them go.

  1. Daley Blind

    The Dutch utility player has lived a somewhat nomadic existence since signing for United in the summer of 2014 under Louis van Gaal, being variously used as a midfield anchor, a centre-back and latterly a stand-in full-back.

    While United do have the option of adding a further year to his deal, even Blind’s father Danny has admitted that they may do so simply to command a transfer fee in the summer. “That is not an illogical idea, because his contract expires,” Blind Sr told Ziggo Sports. “Manchester United still has the opportunity to trigger an option for an extra season. They might do that, because then they can receive a higher transfer fee.”

  2. Michael Carrick

    The 36-year-old club captain has had an almost non-existent 2017-18 season thus far after undergoing a procedure to correct an irregular heart rhythm.

    Having been restricted to a single Carabao Cup appearance to this point, Carrick has had no opportunity to persuade Jose Mourinho and his staff to consider keeping him on for a further year and he is highly likely to finally wave a last goodbye to Manchester United two years on from what appeared to be his farewell under Louis van Gaal. Mourinho has even admitted in recent days that he is likely to seek a replacement for Carrick in the transfer market during the summer 2018 window.

  3. Marouane Fellaini

    United have been rocked over the past couple of months by the realisation that their exhaustive attempts to persuade Fellaini to sign a new deal had come to a dead end and the Belgian now looks set to leave Old Trafford in the coming months.

    Having missed the last 10 matches due to injury, Fellaini’s importance to the make-up of Mourinho’s squad has rarely been more evident. That would make his exit difficult to stomach, hence the manager’s insistence that he is not about to give up hope of the midfielder staying on but at this point it would appear Mourinho’s belief is misplaced.

  4. Ander Herrera

    While the club are yet to officially confirm it, Ander Herrera has already been told his expiring contract will be topped up with a club-option 12 months for season 2018-19. He may not have featured quite as much this term, but his form last season was enough to win him the club’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award and also underline his importance to the United squad.

    Mourinho has hinted that a midfield addition will be one of his priorities next summer but Herrera’s willingness to fight for the cause will not be given up easily despite his lessened status in the manager’s second season.
  5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

    With the news that he is set to miss a further month of action due to his ongoing ACL issue, Manchester United’s decision-makers might have been forgiven for wondering whether it was a good idea to last summer offer Zlatan Ibrahimovic a further one-year deal.

    Since returning from the knee injury which originally kept him out for seven months, the Swede has started only twice and struggled to reach anything near full speed as he comes to grips with the knock-on effects. At 36, Zlatan’s career is reaching its end anyway and with growing concerns about his longevity since his operation there appears little hope of United deciding to give him a further year beyond this season.

  6. Sam Johnstone

    When Sam Johnstone was snapped up by Aston Villa for the second half of last season, the goalkeeper insisted: “I need to be selfish now,” with the intimation that he was ready to leave Old Trafford and seek permanent employment elsewhere.

    He couldn’t come to such an agreement last summer but did manage to negotiate another year under Steve Bruce at Villa Park, where he is now the clear first choice between the sticks. Johnstone has five months remaining in the West Midlands but United can then take up their option to extend his Old Trafford deal before deciding whether to sell the 24-year-old on, with Villa likely to show a significant interest in taking him on full time.
  7. Juan Mata

    Like his compatriot Herrera, Juan Mata is not about to be allowed to leave on a free. The Spanish forward has been a key member of Jose Mourinho’s squad in the 18 months since the Portuguese arrived at Old Trafford despite initial fears that he may be underused in the same manner he was under Mourinho at Chelsea.

    Mata retains such a status in the modern game that he could command a decent fee, even as he approaches the age of 30. But with United holding a 12-month option on his contract they are set to confirm its triggering before then reviewing their next step during the summer.
  8. Luke Shaw

    The former Southampton full-back made a second successive league start for the first time in 15 months on Saturday when lining up against his old club. However, it appears unlikely he will remain first choice once Antonio Valencia is back to full fitness following a hamstring injury and he could find himself back in exile as a result.

    And while he has at least leap-frogged Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind in the pecking order at left-back, Shaw’s long-term future at Old Trafford is far from secure. United will almost certainly extend his deal thanks to their one-year option, but that doesn’t mean the 22-year-old will definitely be around next season as they could still decide to sell in the summer depending on what price they can get for him.
  9. Ashley Young

    One of the revelations of the 2017-18 season at Old Trafford, Ashley Young has transformed himself into one of Jose Mourinho’s most trusted starters thanks to his consistent performers at full-back.

    Such has been his progression that United have told Young they are set to take up their 12-month option and keep the 32-year-old on board until the summer of 2019. While the player himself is pushing for a new three-year deal, the club will simply use the extra year afforded them by the extension clause in order to buy time before making a decision on the England man’s longer-term future.