Man Utd have nine players who need to leave before Cristiano Ronaldo under Erik ten Hag

Man Utd 'close in' on deal for ten Hag as new manager

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Cristiano Ronaldo proved there was still life in the old dog yet with a sublime hat-trick for Manchester United against Norwich City on Saturday afternoon. The veteran notched a treble for the second Premier League home game in a row to take his tally to 21 goals for the season. But, still, his future is uncertain.

Widespread reports have suggested incoming boss Erik ten Hag may choose to get rid of Ronaldo.

It’s been said that figures are primed to tell the Dutchman that their No 7, while still a good asset to have, hasn’t been universally popular with his team-mates since his Hollywood homecoming back in the summer.

Yet why would United get rid of Ronaldo?

He’s scored 21 goals across all competitions this term, more than any other player. He leads by example and is also a role model for younger stars to look up to.

And what if he wasn’t at United next season? Given how things have gone, it’s possible they’d have been even worse.

So Express Sport will now take a look at every player who needs offloading – not including Nemanja Matic, who can confirmed he’ll be off – before Ronaldo, even if the veteran is admittedly approaching the twilight years of his career.

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Eric Bailly

Eric Bailly signed a new contract last year but United know now that was a mistake. Ed Woodward sanctioned the deal and things haven’t worked out, with the Ivory Coast international making just four Premier League appearances this term.

Phil Jones

Somehow, Phil Jones remains a United player. Injuries have seen him fail to realise his potential but the Red Devils have kept hold of him for far too long. Did do well when he played in the 1-0 defeat to Wolves in January, though.

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Harry Maguire

Yes, on his day, Harry Maguire can be brilliant. But, like Paul Pogba (more on him later), there’s a sense his spell at Old Trafford will never lay out the way all parties intended. A fresh start can benefit everybody come the end of the season.

Paul Pogba

Booed by fans against Norwich, despite doing well in midfield, Pogba is no longer wanted. Staying would be a massive mistake and a summer exit would enable United, and the midfielder himself, to heal themselves.

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Jesse Lingard

Was given a rare start against Norwich, despite his contract winding down. Didn’t make the most of this opportunity, though, and his best football in recent years was at West Ham 12 months ago.

Juan Mata

A flawless professional but Juan Mata is past his best. With the magic waning, United can get the Spain international off their books and free up big funds in the process that can potentially be used on new recruits.

Dean Henderson

Wanted by Newcastle in January, United decided to block Dean Henderson from leaving. He’s paid £150,000-a-week to sit on the bench, though, and that doesn’t suit anybody. West Ham could rescue him once the transfer window reopens.

Edinson Cavani

With 17 goals last term, United’s decision to keep Edinson Cavani appeared to be a good one. But the Uruguay international has struggled for fitness and a parting of the ways is now inevitable given his lack of action this term.

Anthony Martial

Has toiled at Sevilla, after toiling for United. The France international has had too many chances and never quite taken them, his 23 goals in the 2019/2020 season aside.

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