With more than a dozen senior United players with less than two years left on their contracts, Vincent Ralph asks how many will ultimately remain?
While the Belgian winger is the one man David Moyes is surely most keen to tie down, 12 other United players will be out of contract in less than 24 months. Of those, six are less than a year away from leaving the club on a free.
In most cases it is unlikely to come to that, but a quick look at a report from the Manchester Evening News today suggests Moyes and chief executive Ed Woodward will be spending a lot of time at the negotiating table in the months ahead.
As things stand, at the end of the current season Januzaj, Michael Carrick, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Fabio, Ryan Giggs and Patrice Evra will all be out of contract.
Of those, Giggs is likely to retire and Fabio has already spoken of his wish to move on. And while rumours persist over the futures of both Vidic and Ferdinand, Moyes is unlikely to part with both in the same summer – if he can help it.
Carrick is a shoo-in for a new deal, and fans and teammates alike will hope Januzaj commits his long-term (sparkling) future to the current champions.
But the simple fact is United’s squad could look very different if new deals are not offered and accepted prior to the end of June.
Just 12 months after that, six more players will have seen their current deals come to an end – if extensions are not signed in the interim.
One of those is Wayne Rooney, along with Anderson, Ben Amos, Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher and Antonio Valencia.
Of that list, only Tom Cleverley appears certain to remain, with reports continuing to link Rooney and, to a lesser extent, Valencia with moves elsewhere. Given Anderson’s erratic form, Amos’s likely desire to be a number one and Fletcher’s ongoing health issues, they may all depart.
Of course there is plenty of time to ensure United’s squad evolves rather than suffers sudden wholesale changes. And for all the names above, there are plenty of players whose continued service is not in question.
But when Nani’s United future is secure until 2018, while Januzaj’s remains uncertain, fans may argue that the club’s priorities are skewed.
Then again, at least they can be happy in the knowledge that Ashley Young has a deal until 2016…or maybe not.
image: © Paolo Camera