James, Lingard & the Man Utd outcasts who could be key to late-window signings

Jones Lingard James Romero Manchester United GFX
There has been much focus on who the Red Devils want to bring in before the transfer deadline but who they manage to sell could be just as crucial

The lack of new signings at Manchester United over the course of the summer transfer window continues to dominate the headlines at Old Trafford as deadline day looms.

What should be equally concerning, however, is the club's failure to negotiate exits for a number of fringe players, whose departures could have paved the way for more arrivals.

Wednesday's night's Carabao Cup win over Brighton illustrated the point perfectly.

United put in a sluggish performance on the south coast with a team full of players that have been deemed surplus to requirements this season.

For example, Diogo Dalot had made just one first-team appearance since March.

Having once been tipped by Jose Mourinho to follow in Gary Neville's footsteps and become an iconic right-back at Old Trafford, Dalot has failed to convince when given opportunities under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and United would be more than willing to let him go.

The 21-year-old is not only behind Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the pecking order but also Timothy Fosu-Mensah – a player that even the most optimistic of United fans believed would never play for the first team again.

There is also excitement around teenage full-back Ethan Laird, while Brandon Williams is naturally right-footed and may be more suited to playing on his favoured side than on the left.

So, United will be hopeful that AC Milan follow through on their interest in Dalot before October 5.

Another reserve given the opportunity to shine at the Amex Stadium was Daniel James, but the Wales international again flattered to deceive before being replaced midway through the second half.

After his fast start to life at United last season, James has struggled to truly establish himself and is now lacking confidence.

Talk of a potential departure were previously shot down during the January transfer window, but should United sign the winger they want in the coming days – be that Jadon Sancho, Ousmane Dembele or someone else – then James would see his playing time restricted even further.

A loan move has been mooted, with Leeds United said to be interested, having previously tried to sign James while he was still at Swansea City in January 2019.

The third player to make it onto the pitch against Brighton who could yet be moved on was Jesse Lingard, who had impressed against Luton Town in the previous round but was relegated to the bench against the Seagulls.

Jesse Lingard Manchester United 2019-20

The England midfielder was introduced late on, and while both the player and the club remain hopeful that he can rediscover his best form and become a mainstay for his boyhood club once more, there is a realisation among all concerned that, at 27, Lingard needs to be playing far more regularly than he is right now.

As it stands, there are no obvious options for Lingard in terms of a transfer, but there is still time for that to change, with five days of the window to go.

While James and Lingard could conceivably still play key roles as impact subs over the course of the campaign, the same cannot be said for a number of players who did not even make the trip to Brighton.

Centre-back is one position where Solskjaer is not short of options, but there is a clear gap between those he trusts and those he would rather see sold.

Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly are the Norwegian's three senior options right now, while academy graduates Axel Tuanzebe and Teden Mengi currently provide back-up.

That leaves three players – all of whom are internationals – with no future at United.

Chris Smalling should have been the easiest to get off the books. The former Fulham man impressed during his loan spell at Roma last season and the Giallorossi are keen to bring him back to the Italian capital on a permanent basis.

Chris Smalling Roma 2020-21

United value Smalling at £20 million ($26m) but they are yet to receive a bid that comes anywhere close to meeting their asking price.

Consequently, Smalling remains at Old Trafford, even if he has no chance of breaking back into the first-team picture.

The same can be said for both Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo, the latter of whom has at least entered the final year of his contract at Old Trafford.

Jones, however, remains tied to the club until the summer of 2023, and given his high wages, he is proving difficult to shift.

Even if the club is to move on this unwanted trio of central defenders, Goal has learned that signing a new centre-back is no longer a priority and will instead be looked into next summer.

Behind the defence, United also have more senior goalkeepers than they need following Dean Henderson's return from his loan spell at Sheffield United.

The 23-year-old has impressed in both Carabao Cup games so far this season, with his performances only confirming that Sergio Romero is now firmly third choice at the Theatre of Dreams.

Sergio Romero Man Utd 2019-20

As such, the Argentina international is open to a move away and there are a number of clubs who have shown an interest in signing him, though a transfer is not yet close.

United have, at least, succeeded in moving on one player, with Andreas Pereira set to complete a season-long loan move to Lazio in the coming hours.

It is understood that the Serie A outfit will pay the midfielder's wages in full and have the option to make the move permanent in the summer – two hugely positive developments for the club.

However, United know that they need to move on far more of their fringe players in their frantic bid to raise funds for one final push in the market.

Speed – something that United do not seem to possess when it comes to transfers – is of the essence as the deadline begins to appear on the horizon.

The number of players the club is able to sell between now and October 5 could prove the difference between landing Sancho this summer or being forced to wait another year.