Ronaldo in or out? The players Man Utd should sell this summer

Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United 2021-22Getty

Ralf Rangnick and his Manchester United players remain firmly focused on finishing in the Premier League's top four, but, off the field, attention has already turned to next season.

Indeed, the process of finding a new, permanent manager has formally begun.

The club have already spoken to Ajax boss Erik ten Hag this week and the other candidates on the shortlist will be interviewed in due course. 

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The Old Trafford hotseat remains one of the most prestigious positions in football but whomever is hired will have an enormous task on their hands, with so many members of the senior squad having underperformed during a season that is now destined to end without a trophy.

Indeed, after United's dismal Manchester derby defeat earlier this month, former captain Roy Keane said there were "five or six players" who should never play for the club again. 

Few would disagree that a major overhaul is required this summer, so GOAL looks at which players United should be shown the door at the end of the season.

Out of contract 

Paul Pogba still hasn’t shown any intention of signing the contract extension he's been offered by United, which means the club will lose him on a free transfer for the second time.

The France international is undoubtedly a world-class player on his day but he has proven maddeningly inconsistent since his return to Old Trafford in 2016.

There are also long-standing doubts over his tactical flexibility, so United shouldn't be too upset by his exit, given it will mean the removal of a massive salary from their wage bill. 

Paul Pogba Manchester United 2021-22 GFXGetty

There will also be some regret over the way in which Edinson Cavani's Old Trafford career has panned out.

In this case, the frustration is rooted in the Uruguayan's injury issues and a reluctance to make himself available for selection.

The net result is that a player who could have become a club legend had he arrived at his peak has scored just two goals in 17 appearances this season. 

It now seems inevitable that the 35-year-old will move on this summer, in pursuit of a fresh challenge elsewhere, just like Jesse Lingard.

The 29-year-old had, of course, hoped to leave in January but his hopes of a loan move were blocked because of concerns over the depth of the squad.

Lingard is still not seeing as much game time as he would like, with plenty of attackers still ahead of him in the pecking order, so a summer exit makes sense.

Juan Mata and Lee Grant have also entered the final few months of their respective contracts.

Both are squad players rather than serious contenders for a starting place and while they are highly thought of in the dressing room, they will be allowed to leave at the end of the season. 

Potential sales 

In order to generate more funds for buying players, United will need to sell some dead wood – something they have struggled to do in the past. 

After being again ousted from the No.1 spot by David de Gea, Dean Henderson is likely to push for an exit unless he gets guarantees from the new manager that he will be first choice.

The 25-year-old is under contract until 2025 but with the World Cup coming up and his place in Gareth Southgate’s team in doubt, United could cash in while they can. 

Dean Henderson Manchester UnitedGetty/GOAL

Phil Jones’ return to full fitness means United should be able to command some sort of fee for the 30-year-old before his deal expires in the summer of 2023.

Eric Bailly, meanwhile, has not had the opportunities he was promised when he signed an extension in 2021 and United should accept any decent offers for the Ivorian centre-back.

His current deal runs until 2024 and there has been interest for him in the past but it’s important United strike a deal this time around. 

Elsewhere, Andreas Pereira is almost certain to leave. The midfielder is on loan at Flamengo and the Brazilians are keen to land the 26-year-old on a permanent basis.

A deal has yet to be finalised but United are open to a departure before the start of the next campaign.

With one goal and one assist in eight appearances since joining Sevilla on loan in January, Anthony Martial is not exactly taking La Liga by storm.

He is unlikely to be welcomed back to Old Trafford, though. United are in the market for a new forward anyway, and with Anthony Elanga emerging as a serious prospect in recent months, Martial remains surplus to requirements.

At 26 and with two years left on his deal, Martial should still command a reasonable fee, even accounting for his current struggles in Spain. 


Donny van de Beek is the most high-profile name currently out on loan.

The Dutchman hasn’t set the world alight under Frank Lampard at Everton but his future could depend on the identity of the next United boss.

Van de Beek, after all, shone at Ajax, which is why United signed him, and it may be worth keeping him for at least another season to see if the new manager can get the 24-year-old back to his best. 

Donny van de Beek Everton 2021-22 GFXGetty

Another midfielder United will have to make a decision over is James Garner.

He has impressed on loan at Nottingham Forest but if he can’t be promised a regular place in United’s XI would returning to Old Trafford hinder his development?

Similarly tough decisions will also have to be taken on Brandon Williams, Amad Diallo, Facundo Pellistri and Axel Tuanzebe, who are on loan at Norwich, Rangers, Deportivo Alaves and Napoli respectively. 


David de Gea has been United’s player of the season and will no doubt continue as first-choice next season.

In defence, Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw and Victor Lindelof should all stay and despite the current criticism aimed at Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, it would be a surprise to see either of them sold. 

Fred and Scott McTominay have shown they are deserving of their places in the squad and, despite his age Nemanja Matic can still play a useful role when required – even if it is just as a substitute. 

Harry Maguire Manchester United 2021-22 GFXGetty

Bruno Fernandes will remain a key player, utterly integral to United's hopes of future success, just like the slowly-but-steadily improving Jadon Sancho.

Swedish teenager Elanga looks like a potential star, while Marcus Rashford should be given more time to arrest his poor run of form, as there remains a strong belief that the right manager could help the England international kickstart his career. 

Cristiano Ronaldo 

That just leaves Cristiano Ronaldo to discuss. The 37-year-old signed a two-year deal last summer with the option for a further year and there has been divided opinion over whether or not it was the right move.

Ronaldo's goals kept United in the Champions League and he has secured them some vital points in the league but there have been other instances where it looks like the team balance has suffered because of the presence of the Portuguese up front.

If they find a centre-forward who better fits the new manager's system, and if Ronaldo wants to go because of the likely lack of Champions League football next season, then at least his exit will ease the strain on the club's wage bill.

Ronaldo, then, is a player who straddles the keep and sell categories. As with many other cases, much will depend on the next United manager...