Despite the fact that Manchester United’s next game is the small matter of a Champions League Quarter Final against Barcelona, the topic of conversation that seems to be occupying most fans’ time at the moment is which players will still be at Old Trafford next season. Not one to be left out, over the course of the next two weeks, Red Billy will sift through all the rumours and make his predictions about which Remainers and MUexiters we’re likely to see in the coming months.
Having struggled to find fitness and form over the last year, Valencia has only played once under Olé Solskjaer and it has been widely reported that the Old Trafford club have told Valencia they will not be seeking an extension to his current contract. MLS is the most likely destination for the Ecuadorian, although there has also been rumoured interest from West Ham and China.
Red Billy’s prediction: MUexit. 99% chance of leaving/1% of staying.
What Pogba’s people do so well is generate hype and news on the player on an almost daily basis, so there are always going to be rumours about him leaving Old Trafford. Add to that agent Mino Raiola’s constant attempts to move his players on and the strong possibility that United may not be competing in the Champions League next season, it is easy to see why the press are focussed on a possible move to Real Madrid in the Summer.
When asked about the possibility, Pogba said “I have always said that Real Madrid is a dream for every player, even more so now that Zidane is there…It is a dream for every child and every footballer… For the moment, I am in Manchester but, later on, we do not know what the future will tell us.” This last part is almost word-for-word what he said a year ago when asked a similar question.
Solskjaer has played down the comments, saying “Paul is a very nice and polite man who answered a general question. Paul’s happy here and he’s going to be a big, big part. I’ve always said that you’d like to build your team around him and that hasn’t changed at all.” Confident words from the manager, who would look pretty stupid if Pogba is really making serious noises about going. Behind the media circus, maybe there is a player who does love Manchester United, and who has played for only one other club since the age of 16. With Raiola about, you never know, but the wise money is on Pogba staying at Old Trafford at least for one more season and you wouldn’t rule out Ed Woodward finding a surprise new contract for the player to help him settle down for longer.
Red Billy’s Prediction: Remainer. 30% chance of leaving/70% of staying.
David De Gea
Summer wouldn’t be summer without the will-he, won’t he David de Gea transfer saga. The usual rumours have been fuelled by Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane’s apparent dropping of Thibaut Courtois in favour of Keylor Navas and his own son Luca Zidane in recent games. But if truth be told, it seems pretty unlikely; De Gea’s consistently inconsistent performances for his national side have not endeared him to the Real Madrid fans, and Marca have already reported that Zidane is putting his faith in Courtois next season.
What is far more likely is an approach from Paris St Germain for the Spaniard. The French club have a clear need for a world class keeper, with Gigi Buffon turning 42 years old next January and alternative Alphonse Areola not quite reaching the world class status expected of Les Rouges et Bleus. With money no object, it might boil down to whether De Gea will feel the French League offers enough of a challenge and what kind of pay increase Woodward is willing to offer him. Hopefully, he will put football concerns ahead of financial ones, although with his two besties Mata and Herrera also potentially leaving Old Trafford, the latter also being linked with PSG, he may decide to opt for pastures new.
Red Billy’s Prediction: Remainer. 40% chance of leaving/60% of staying.
Talks of a pre-contract agreement between Herrera and PSG seem a little far-fetched at this stage, with the Mirror – one of the main papers to have broken the story – now suggesting that PSG have cooled their interest and are turning to Everton star Idrissa Gueye. It seems unlikely. On current form, why would Herrera be on the most no-holds-barred shopping list in the world, unless, as one of the 3 amigos, it’s an attempt to make the prospect of a Parisian move more enticing for De Gea? In all honesty, though, it smells of agent propaganda to try to force Manchester United toward a whopping 250% pay increase for Herrera, at a time when the players performances are not justifying it. Like Marouane Fellaini before him, Herrera might find that the Old Trafford hierarchy are not bluffing and simply do not value him as highly as he values himself. It would not be a surprise to see him leave this Summer, but a return to La Liga or even a switch to another Premier League club might be a more likely destination than Paris.
Red Billy’s Prediction: Muexit. 65% chance of leaving/35% of staying.
Rumours surrounding Juan Mata’s immediate future are the most confusing. When the papers are running with a move to Barcelona and an appointment as Manchester United ambassador on the same day, the only thing you can say for certain is that nobody outside of Old Trafford seems to have a clue what happens next. According to the Sun, Solskjaer is desperate to keep Mata, but a lack of playing time for the Spaniard, and the dearth of opportunities in his favoured number 10 position, might cause the soon-to-be 31 year-old to seek more regular football elsewhere.
Red Billy’s prediction: Remainer. 40% chance of leaving/60% of staying.
Summary so far:
Muexit: Antonio Valencia, Ander Herrera
Remain: Paul Pogba, David de Gea, Juan Mata.
In Part II next week, Red Billy will deliver his predictions on 10 more players who are rumoured to be heading for the exit door.