LONDON – Manchester United are ready to offload up to six players at the end of the season as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer builds a team capable of competing for the Premier League title.
An overhaul of the squad is imminent, even if Solskjaer can claim a Champions League place after Tuesday’s defeat at Wolves left United adrift of the top four.
It promises to be the biggest shake-up at Old Trafford since 2015, when Louis van Gaal signed six players and jettisoned eight more.
United usually prefer to replace three players a year, but accept the number may be significantly higher this summer because of the state of the squad.
Club captain Antonio Valencia, 33, looks certain to leave, having not played since early January.
Matteo Darmian, 29, is expected to follow, having failed to secure the return to Italy he wanted in the summer.
United are also likely to sell one of five centre-backs, with Marcos Rojo, 29, and Eric Bailly, 24, the leading candidates.
Rojo has made four appearances since being lined up for a move to Everton last summer, while Bailly has had a difficult campaign. He was substituted in the first half against Newcastle and Paris Saint-Germain.
Ander Herrera and Juan Mata are both set to leave as free agents if they cannot agree new contracts after 18 months of negotiations.
Herrera has been in talks with PSG and is attracting interest from Arsenal, with United unwilling to more than double his £80 000-a-week salary.
Mata has also been able to talk to foreign clubs since the start of the year, and is being linked with Barcelona.
United accept the wage demands are a reflection of what is happening throughout football, but insist the terms must be fair to both sides.
They remain hopeful, however, that David de Gea will sign a new contract. The Spain goalkeeper has entered the final 15 months of his contract, and could leave on a free transfer after next season.
United are open to letting Alexis Sanchez leave if that is Solskjaer’s wish, although the player’s £500 000-a-week wages would be an obstacle.
Young defenders Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Axel Tuanzebe – on loan at Fulham and Aston Villa – are likely to go.
Palace fullback Aaron Wan-Bissaka is a prime target, and the England Under-21 international will cost upwards of £35 million.
The midfield options include Atletico Madrid’s trio of Saul Niguez, Rodri and Thomas Partey, plus Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and West Ham’s Declan Rice.
United accept it will be difficult to prise Jadon Sancho or Callum Hudson-Odoi away from Borussia Dortmund or Chelsea if they decide to target a winger.