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Old Trafford has just seen maybe its worst defensive season ever, and the higher ups are ready to start from scratch again.
To call Manchester United’s defence last season abysmal would be a compliment.
Conceding 57 Premier League goals, and having five games in which they shipped four or more goals, it was even worse than the calamity that was the 2018/19 season.
But change is reportedly on its way. United’s squad has a lot of deadwood, and the majority of this deadwood is concentrated in defence.
Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News reports that United are prepared to sell five of the defenders they currently employ, in order to raise funds for new signings.
Perhaps even more crucially, this will also free up significant room on what is a hyperinflated wage bill at Old Trafford.
The five names in question that United are happy to offload are Eric Bailly, Axel Tuanzebe, Brandon Williams, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Phil Jones, and it makes sense that all of these players are ones to go.
Eric Bailly has been unhappy in Manchester for some time now. The Ivorian centre back is somehow consistently unavailable yet unhappy about a lack of game time, which is a bit of a paradox when you think about it.
Bailly has shown quality in the past, but is too unreliable to one of United’s main centre back options and his salary is too big to not be one.
The club are actively looking to sell him and have even offered him to another Premier League side.
Axel Tuanzebe is not one that the club are actively looking to offload, but should a good offer for him come in then they will not say no to it.
Despite possessing good raw talents, Tuanzebe has never really gotten going at United and injury has often been an issue.
Brandon Williams showed promise in his early appearances in 2019/20, but is simply just not good enough to provide adequate competition for Luke Shaw.
The latter is a player who needs real competition to extract his very best - which we know is a world-class footballer. With Alex Telles also ahead of him in the pecking order, it makes sense that United try to cash in.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka was signed for £50 million just three years ago, the fact that United are already looking to move him on is fairly damning.
Whilst the player is committed to fight for his place in United’s team, it is unlikely that he will win his spot back unless he drastically improves in key areas.
The most valuable asset United hold of the defenders they are looking to move on, the sale of ‘Spiderman’ could well contribute nicely to United’s plans to sign new players this summer.
Phil Jones was signed in 2011 as a player with huge talent. Sir Alex Ferguson famously claimed that he could be one of United’s greatest ever players.
Unfortunately, constant injuries and poor management meant that the defender never came anywhere close, and now his career at United feels almost like a running joke.
To his credit, Jones has always remained an absolutely top-class professional and it would be very nice to see him go somewhere to see out his career and showcase some of the ability that made him so highly-rated as a young player.
The report also touched on Harry Maguire’s situation. Amongst last season’s defensive calamity, maybe no player in United’s defence had a worse season than Maguire, who almost completely fell off after the European Championships where he made Team of the Tournament.
Reinforcement in defence is wanted by United, and it is Maguire who Ten Hag is left most unconvinced by at centre half.
🗞 Erik ten Hag wants a credible competitor for Harry Maguire, who is not certain of retaining the captaincy. [Samuel Luckhurst, MEN]— Utd District (@UtdDistrict) June 22, 2022
These concerns about Maguire spread to his role as club captain of Manchester United, with many believing the club needs a new captain.