Erik ten Hag’s reign as Manchester United manager has so far been a backwards journey. The Dutchman has certainly stabilized the ship, but there are still plenty of problems to work out.
After a run of nine games without losing, last Sunday’s loss to Aston Villa was a reminder of how the team still needs to rebuild, as there are many cracks in United’s armour.
Despite bringing in up to six new recruits, there is plenty of room for improvement. Much has been made of the need to buy an elite striker, as well as bringing in a new right-back and a creative midfielder.
Fred under the scanner
Then there is the issue of player contracts and removing dead wood from the team. One of the players whose contracts expire next summer is Fred.
The Brazilian has been a secondary player so far this season. He was terrible at the beginning, but he made an impact against Tottenham Hotspur.
But he has yet to become a regular and with the kind of football Ten Hag wants and the players United are eyeing next summer, the Brazil international certainly doesn’t look like he’ll be a permanent fixture in the first XI.
His skill set means Fred will get his chances, but he is unlikely to displace the current duo of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen any time soon.
United have the option of activating a one-year extension on Fred’s contract to protect his value, but Ten Hag has made it clear that he wants the players to win their contract renewals.
Transfer expert Rudy Galetti has mentioned that renewing Fred’s contract is not that simple and that there is a good chance he will leave for free next summer.
“The contract renewal is getting more and more complicated and he can say goodbye at the end of the season as a free agent,” Galetti tweeted.
🚨↩️ #Maguire and #Fred could leave #MUFC in the summer:
📌 for the central 🏴 🏴 🏴 🇪🇸, some clubs 🇪🇺 have requested information; 📌 for the 🇧🇷 midfielder, the contract renewal is getting more and more complicated and he can say goodbye at the end of the season as a free agent. 🐓⚽️ #Transfers pic.twitter.com/o8BAUQYA5y
— Rudy Galetti (@RudyGaletti) November 8,
The 29-year-old had become the fourth most expensive signing in 2018 when he signed from Shakhtar Donetsk for an initial €50m, but it’s safe to say he hasn’t lived up to his huge price tag.
He is currently valued at 20 million euros according to Transfermarkt.
Another player who has fallen down the pecking order is club captain Harry Maguire. He was an automatic starter for former coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
But due to a terrible last season and a lousy start this term, Maguire has dropped to fourth choice currently.
Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez are effectively the first choice, while Victor Lindelof appears to be ahead of the England man.
Furthermore, the Dutch coach does not see Maguire as a left-back, a position he has held since he started playing club football.
The former Leicester man has mainly played on the right side of defense and is likely to continue.
Galetti has now mentioned that there are European clubs that are aware of Maguire’s situation. “Some European clubs have asked the English center-back for information,” was his tweet.
Since the journalist is from Italy, the interest could be from Serie A. Many English players have revived their careers in Italy and former United defender Chris Smalling is the best example.
Smalling was considered too erratic for English football and his passing range was not good enough, but he has since rebuilt his reputation in Rome.
It makes sense for clubs to be interested in Maguire, who is quite good technically and has a good passing range. He was bought for €80m but is currently valued at just €30m.
Ten Hag will make the final decision, but his track record shows that he is not afraid to make big decisions. Both players need to cheer up or risk being shipped.
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