The £77m worth of talent Manchester United could lose for nothing this summer

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The five players that could leave Manchester United when their contracts expire at the end of the season.

Old Trafford will be a busy place this summer. Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s purchase of a minority stake in Manchester United has been ratified by the Premier League, which means fresh investment and a new hand at the tiller in the transfer market – and there are a lot of decisions for Ratcliffe and Ineos to make.

And while new signings will dominate the discourse, deciding who will leave will be equally important when it comes to building a squad which can finally challenge for the Premier League title once more – and with no fewer than five first-team players out of contract this summer, the decision-making will start very soon.

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United have already triggered one-year options on the contracts of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Victor Lindelöf but they may yet lose £77m of talent. These are the players whose contracts are running down and their current situations at the club.

Raphaël Varane

United signed the 30-year-old from Real Madrid for £41m in 2021, but his time at Old Trafford seems to be coming to an end despite playing the last nine games in a row. The club hold an option to extend the Frenchman’s £340,000-a-week contract for another year but are not expected to take it up, and a man who has won four Champions Leagues and a World Cup will become one of the starriest free agents on the market.

It must be granted that Varane has not been playing as well as his vastly expensive contract might demand, and he has only been given a run in the first team due to injuries to players like Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martínez. But given the investment and the player’s well-earned reputation, his decline and likely departure will go down as a massive disappointment. However, it will free up plenty of space in the wage budget for new signings. Varane will likely still get the chance to prove his worth at a pretty big club elsewhere in Europe.

Anthony Martial

The French forward has been at Manchester United for nine seasons since making a £36m move from AS Monaco and has made over 300 appearances for the Red Devils, but persistent injuries have meant that the 28-year-old has struggled to replicate the form that saw him hit 23 goals for the club in the 2019/20 season. His contract is up at the end of the season, and few believe it will be renewed.

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As if to underscore the point that his fitness issues are not behind him, Martial is currently sidelined until early April after undergoing surgery on a groin injury. Once he’s back from that, he will likely have just a few games with which to say his farewell – his poor form when fit this year has seen him contribute just one league goal to the cause. The 20-cap France striker will likely have to take a step down the ladder to get first-team football next season, but one can only hope that the injuries which have dogged him over the past four seasons finally clear up.

Jonny Evans

The 36-year-old veteran was a surprise summer signing, with the former Leicester City making his return to Old Trafford on a one-year contract to help offer some depth to the struggling defence – and he has proven pretty useful, playing 21 games in all competitions.

As it stands, there is no word on whether United will renew the Northern Irishman for another year, but his experience and the fact that he can still perform at the top level suggests that it might not be the worst idea to bring him back for one last year.

Brandon Williams

An academy product once seen as having a big future at United, Williams never really built on the promise of his breakthrough season in 2019/20. Having signed a four-year extension at the end of that campaign, the now 23-year-old full-back seems likely to leave after making just one United appearance in three years.

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Williams is currently on loan at second-tier Ipswich Town but hasn’t played since December after a string of illness and injury issues. United don’t have an option on his contract so would have to offer a full extension to keep him, but it seems more likely that he continues his career elsewhere.

Tom Heaton

The 37-year-old former Burnley goalkeeper is currently the emergency stand-in for United but his contract will expire at the end of this season – United may well extend it for another season. Former England international Heaton has made three appearances in cup competitions since returning to his boyhood club but has still not featured in a league game. Keeping him for a little longer may be a formality, assuming he wishes to continue playing.

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