Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is reportedly planning to axe FIVE Manchester United stars this summer as his Old Trafford rebuild continues.
Having spent just short of £150million on Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka last summer and adding Bruno Fernandes to his ranks in January, there is a growing air of optimism among fans that the club is going in the right direction under the Norwegian boss.
The £67m signing of Portugal playmaker Fernandes from Sporting in particular has galvanised the Red Devils, who were on an 11-match unbeaten run before the coronavirus pandemic brought football to an unprecedented halt.
However, Solskjaer knows there is still a huge amount of work to be done if United are to bridge the gap to rivals Liverpool and Man City – and according to the Manchester Evening News, he is set to wield the axe on five stars this summer.
The report states Phil Jones, Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, Chris Smalling and Alexis Sanchez will all be told to find new clubs when the window opens.
Jones, once dubbed the future of English football by Sir Alex Ferguson, is one of United’s longest-serving players but will be allowed to leave as he is not part of Solskjaer’s plans.
Lingard, the midfielder, has endured a tough campaign and is believed to have lost the confidence of the manager.
The 27-year-old has failed to score or assist a single Premier League goal this season, while he hasn’t even been in United’s matchday squad for three of their past four league fixtures.
Brazilian midfielder Pereira is another player who is reportedly on the chopping block.
The 24-year-old has been handed 37 appearances this season but questions are still being asked if he can cut it at the top level.
Giving COVID-19 the red card
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While Sanchez and Smalling, who are both plying their trade on loan in Serie A with Inter and Roma respectively, will also be shown the door this summer.
Sanchez’s move from Arsenal in 2018 has been a massive disappointment and Solskjaer will find it tough to find a suitor to pay his astronomical £400k-a-week wages.
Smalling, on the other hand, has reinvigorated his career at Roma this season and the Italian club are very keen to sign the Englishman on a permanent deal.
Solskjaer is keen to sell these five stars in order to fund moves for some of his other targets.
Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham and Jack Grealish are among the names swirling around the rumour mill, with Solskjaer working with United’s staff to fine-tune targets as they look to become title challengers once more.
“Football is going to get back to normality at one point, and it’s very important we’re ready when that happens,” the United manager told Sky Sports on Wednesday.
“We want to be the best at everything, and of course now is a chance to spend more time, you discuss players, discuss plans.
“We’ve evaluated what we need, of course with the coaching staff we’ve looked at games, evaluated games, discussing on video calls like this.”