Erik ten Hag is intent on offloading Harry Maguire, Fred, Scott McTominay and Jadon Sancho in the next two weeks to kickstart a badly needed streamlining of the Manchester United squad, as he seeks to mount a title challenge for next season.
The Dutch coach is understood to have made definitive decisions on who he wants to keep, in a situation that has been likened to Mikel Arteta’s first full summer at Arsenal. Ten Hag is aware that a group works at optimum when everyone is totally focused and involved, and that it is better to jettison those who do not feature as part of long-term plans.
This has placed Maguire in a tricky position, not least because England manager Gareth Southgate has told him he needs to get regular Premier League football to keep his place for Euro 2024. West Ham United are among the clubs that have so far expressed tentative interest but have been put off by the cost of any deal. The Old Trafford hierarchy have set a value of £50m but buying clubs believe he is actually available for £35m. The main issue with Maguire remains high wages.
This has actually proved United’s primary problem in a long-standing struggle to sell players. Too many are on high salaries from previous management regimes, with potential buyers unwilling to go so high and players consequently unwilling to move.
Ten Hag has nevertheless made his hierarchy at centre-back clear, with Victor Lindelof the main replacement and Luke Shaw seen as the second back-up. That will give Maguire a decision, but there aren’t currently too many suitable takers. A loan is a potential option.
Fulham meanwhile retain interest in Fred while both West Ham United and Newcastle United have been monitoring Scott McTominay, depending on movements with both. Arsenal are expected to hold a medical for Declan Rice in the next 48 hours, which will likely see West Ham accelerate plans to replace the England midfielder amid a new recruitment structure.
It is understood that Sancho has been broached as a possible sale to Tottenham Hotspur but there hasn’t been much feedback yet. United would ideally see him as a makeweight in any move for Harry Kane but the England record scorer’s future remains uncertain, and is actually widely seen as one of those that could “unlock” the rest of the transfer market.
Even though Kane’s preference would be to go to Old Trafford, it is currently seen as highly unlikely due to the difficulty of negotiating with Daniel Levy. As it is, United are planning without him, and a current target for the summer is to bring in Inter goalkeeper Andre Onana and potentially Atalanta’s Rasmus Hojland on top of Mason Mount, with further signings dependent on sales.