Jose Mourinho has begun to make major roster decisions ahead of his first campaign as Manchester United manager. Reports late last week highlighted his choice to purge nine players from the current squad, with several notable names jumping off of the page.
From world-class veterans to several promising youth products, his choices have touched a wide range of individuals within the club. While the actions taken are certainly not completely unexpected (The Special One tends to shake things up a bit when joining a new team), the timing and players involved have certainly raised some eyebrows.
We highlight those believed to be involved and some others that may be on Mourinho’s shortlist for a permanent vacation from Old Trafford.
10 BASTIAN SCHWEINSTEIGER
The player who grabbed the most attention from these possible changes is German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. Having only just arrived last summer to great fanfare, the World Cup champion became the only German to ever feature in United’s first team and many believed his presence in the middle of the pitch could drive Louis Van Gaal’s team towards success.
Suspensions and injuries limited “Schweini” to only 18 league appearances and one goal, as he was unable to find a rhythm within the squad. After over a decade playing for Bayern Munich, the 31-year old midfield legend always seemed a bit out of place and uncomfortable in his new surroundings.
It has been a difficult summer for Bastian, as Germany failed to reach the Euro 2016 final and eventually calling it quits on his international career as well. It can be assumed that he will look to head back to the Bundesliga and there will certainly be no shortage of clubs wanting to bring him on board.
With the Paul Pogba signing waiting in the wings, Bastian’s midfield role and contributions look to be unnecessary for Jose Mourinho in the future.
9 ADNAN JANUZAJ
The focus of what is always surprising about hearing Januzaj’s name is the fact that he is still only 21 years old. It feels like a long, long time ago that the Belgian midfielder burst onto the scene for David Moyes’ squad in 2013 and promptly sent a high-speed hype train out of the station.
Making his first start against Sunderland in October of that year, Januzaj’s pace and quality shined bright as his exciting brace was enough for a 2-1 United victory at the Stadium of Light. Supporters and pundits immediately took notice and big things were expected from the teenager moving forward.
But unfortunately, that’s where the seemingly destined superstar’s path began to unravel.
After finding his playing time decrease in the second half of the 2013-14 campaign, Januzaj began to see his role diminish in all competitions. A loan deal last year to Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund fizzled as well, resulting in the young winger being called back early.
Even with all the potential he showed, Januzaj ultimately feels surplus to what United need at the moment. With several other options at the young player’s preferred positions, Mourinho feels it is time to move on.
8 JAMES WILSON
In a similar category to Januzaj, we find Manchester United academy product James Wilson discovering Jose Mourinho to be less than thrilled with his abilities. The 20-year old striker is entering his third season with the senior team and has been unable to find consistent minutes on the pitch.
Three goals for the Red Devils over that period is clearly short of expectations, and the Staffordshire native is expected to leave before the transfer window closes.
The forward position is always one of quality at United and, with Marcus Rashford bursting onto the scene last year, Wilson just could not do enough to prove his worth.
7 PADDY MCNAIR
Multiple injuries to a squad’s defence can cause major headaches, but it can also open up the door for a club’s reserves to make an impact. Northern Irish centre-back Paddy McNair did just that for Louis Van Gaal at the beginning of the 2014-15 campaign, helping to be part of four straight victories in his first four United starts.
He went on to make 16 Premier League appearances for the Red Devils and showed great ability to play in Van Gaal’s three-man backline when needed. But after only making eight appearances overall last season, it seems that McNair does not have the quality to compete for minutes when the squad is fully healthy.
Expect Mourinho to either bring in a CB replacement this summer or in January.
6 WILL KEANE
Forward Will Keane has been much travelled since being called up from Manchester United’s academy in 2011. The 23-year old has seen loan moves all over England during the past few years, including Wigan Athletic, Queens Park Rangers and Preston North End.
A knee ligament injury in 2012 certainly hindered his progress, as his size and goal-scoring ability was on great display at that time for the United reserves.
But a failure to take hold of a striker position at any point on the senior level in the past few seasons has seen him deemed expendable by Jose Mourinho.
5 TYLER BLACKETT
Signing on to Manchester United’s academy as an 8-year old, Tyler Blackett has struggled to find playing time in the Red Devils squad. Like fellow defender Paddy McNair, Blackett found a chance to shine during the 2014-15 season when injuries took their toll early on during the team’s campaign.
Playing well as a center-back in Van Gaal’s much loved 3-5-2 formation, Blackett found the Dutch coach singing his praises for his positioning and made twelve Premier League appearances overall.
A loan move to Scottish Premiership champions Celtic last season featured mixed reviews and, with several young defenders on the way out, Mourinho appears poised to bring in new players on United’s backline.
4 ANDREAS PEREIRA
Many had the 20-year old Brazilian midfielder tabbed for stardom, especially after a wonderful free kick goal in United’s 3-0 win over Ipswich Town in last year’s Capital One Cup. But a lack of minutes has provided a major dent in Mourinho’s confidence for the player moving forward.
Having featured in both PSV’s and Manchester United’s academies, expectations were high for the youngster. But a combined four Premier League appearances over the past two seasons for Louis Van Gaal have seen him drop off both Mourinho’s and United’s radar.
3 CAMERON BORTHWICK-JACKSON
19-year old Cameron Borthwick-Jackson has been one of, if not the most, promising defender on the Manchester United’s youth teams in recent years. Despite receiving the club’s U21 Player of the Year award this past May, Borthwick-Jackson finds himself on the outs in the Special One’s new regime.
Having only received his senior team debut last season, the possible move seems set to not only replace many young defenders but also to remove players that maybe impressed Louis Van Gaal more than Jose Mourinho.
2 TIMOTHY FOSU-MENSAH
18-year old Timothy Fosu-Mensah finds himself on Mourinho’s list despite showing a great potential to serve in many different capacities throughout the lineup.
Brought on from the famed Ajax academy system in his hometown of Amsterdam, Fosu-Mensah displayed excellent versatility for United youth squads by playing some different positions including centre-back and midfielder.
But only eight Premier League appearances last season were not enough and he could find himself on the move this summer.
1 SURPRISE ADDITIONS TO THE LIST?
Could this list grow past nine players this summer?
With Mourinho’s tendency to tear it up and start again when joining a new club, it would not surprise some to see him make even more moves beyond the players discussed already.
One that immediately comes to mind is Spanish midfielder Juan Mata. During Mourinho’s first season back in charge of Chelsea in 2013, Mata found himself on the bench early and often. Sold to United in January of 2014, he is now reunited with Mourinho once more.
While nothing seems definite either way, Mourinho has a history of having players who are “his guys” and those who are not. That habit could ultimately lead to Mata leaving Manchester.
Argentine goalkeeper Sergio Romero had an excellent summer in leading his country to the finals of the Copa America Centenario, but playing time behind starter David de Gea is a rare occurrence these days.
Romero certainly possesses the skills and qualities needed to thrive in the Premier League, but his status at United does not seem to set him up for much success moving forward. Currently in the second year of his three-year deal signed last summer, Mourinho may look to sell Romero in January.
Jose Mourinho has shown time and time again that he can put together a title-winning squad. From Portugal to Italy to Spain, he has shown that he can compete for league and European championships.
His history in the Premier League is just as decorated. Two successful runs at Chelsea both ended on a sour note, but he brought a multitude of trophies and praise to Stamford Bridge.
As he begins his new quest at Manchester United, he seems to have identified who he wants and who he does not. Time will only tell if the players we have highlighted will feature for the Red Devils in the future.