Manchester United have secured the short-term futures of a trio of players after triggering one-year contract extension clauses in their respective deals and increased their chances of gaining a profit on certain individuals this summer.
Defenders Ashley Young and Daley Blind now see their contracts running out in 2019 rather than this summer, as well as goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who is on loan at Sky Bet Championship side Aston Villa.
The three were all set to be out of contract in the summer and could all have left to join other sides on a free transfer.
Sky Sports report that Blind, Young and Johnstone are the most recent in a string of Man United players who manager Jose Mourinho has decided to keep for another year. Spanish duo Ander Herrera and Juan Mata, both ageing, saw United exercise their option to do so previously, as well as young left-back Luke Shaw.
The news leave Mourinho with only three players with deals set to expire come this summer in veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his similarly aged teammate Michael Carrick, the club captain, as well as Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini.
United chiefs are reportedly now resigned to losing Fellaini on a free transfer in the summer with interest from clubs in Turkey, Italy and Spain. Galatasaray have been heavily linked. Carrick is set to retire and join Mourinho’s coaching staff, and Ibrahimovic’s future is uncertain, though a move to LA Galaxy in Major League Soccer is possible.
An extension doesn’t secure the future of these three players, necessarily, or mean Mourinho doesn’t want to sell them.
But rather than losing three talented individuals for nothing, Mourinho provides himself with a safe option of either selling them on for a fee or keeping them for at least one more season.
Johnstone is most likely to leave the club on a permanent transfer. Current loan side Villa, managed by former-Red Steve Bruce, are keen to keep him at Villa Park, and other sides are following his progress. Having come through the academy at Old Trafford, United will want a fee for Johnstone, a fantastic goalkeeper who hasn’t been given chances at United but is shining in the Championship with a record of 32 goals conceded in 34 games.