Manchester United fans are hopeful of a change in approach from the club as a number of player departures have been announced, meaning a considerable reduction in the club’s wage bill as new manager Erik Ten Hag begins to rebuild a squad which delivered United’s lowest ever Premier League points total this season.
Recent years have seen fans express frustration at a club policy of retaining players on long term, big money contracts regardless of their contribution. For example, Phil Jones and Andreas Pereira both still have two years left to run on their contracts despite both rarely featuring in the last couple of seasons.
The first player departure to be confirmed was Nemanja Matic, with the Serbian midfielder confirming in April that he would be leaving the club after five years. Ahead of the final game of the season against Crystal Palace, interim manager Ralf Rangnick also confirmed that the trip to Selhurst Park would be forward Edinson Cavani’s last game at United.
Goalkeeper Lee Grant also announced last week that he was retiring from playing and has since taken up a coaching role with League One side Ipswich Town, where he will be working with former United coach Kieran McKenna. Those three departures alone accounted for £310,000 a week in terms of wages.
This has continued this week as United have confirmed a further three departures. On Wednesday morning, the club announced on Twitter that Paul Pogba would be leaving the club six years after returning from Juventus. Pogba was United’s third-highest earner on £290,000 a week, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and David De Gea.
Later the same day it was announced that Jesse Lingard would also be leaving when his contract expires at the end of this month. Lingard, who is on £80,000 a week, is a lifelong Red himself and originally joined the club’s academy when he was seven years old. However he has found first team opportunities limited in recent times and spent a spell on loan at West Ham United last season.
On Wednesday morning, the anticipated departure of Spanish midfielder Juan Mata was also confirmed. Mata joined the club in January 2014 and despite also finding game time reduced recently, has remained a popular member of the squad with players and fans alike. Mata was on £135,000 a week.
In total, those six departures have led to £815,000 a week, or £39.12 million a year, being taken off the club’s wage bill. It looks as though that is not the end of the clearout either, with Fabrizio Romano tweeting that central defenders Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe are also set to leave this summer, and while Diogo Dalot is expected to stay, there is still a possibility fellow full back Aaron Wan-Bissaka could also leave.
Bailly and Wan-Bissaka leaving would see another £170,000 a week off the wage bill, while there has also been speculation linking goalkeeper Dean Henderson with a move away from Old Trafford.
That would bring the total number of departures to 11, so incomings are expected, although the number of arrivals that will be sanctioned by new Chief Executive Officer Richard Arnold is unclear. Arnold is in his first transfer window in the role having replaced Ed Woodward.
There have also been other departures behind the scenes, leading to United fans hoping that lessons have been learned from the mistakes of recent years which have led to the club falling behind their rivals in the Premier League and now reaching five years without silverware, their worst such run since a six year drought between 1977 and 1983.
Life is rarely quiet for long in the world of Manchester United, but even by this club’s standards it is looking set to be a busy summer ahead of the 2022-23 season getting underway on 6 August.