The McFred days are over and the Brazil international joins this XI of players who have left Manchester United since Erik ten Hag’s arrival in April 2022.
The Dutch head coach inherited a hot mess of a squad (as this below-par XI proves) and his job of ousting some unwanted squad players is still ongoing.
To say that Cristiano Ronaldo and David De Gea did not leave Man Utd on the best of terms is a pretty big understatement, but they are the standout players in this XI, which sees Fred and former United flop Paul Pogba reunite in midfield…
GK: David De Gea
The goalkeeper’s contract dispute with Man Utd dragged on throughout the 2022/23 campaign. While De Gea often insisted that he would prefer to pen a new deal, the club were not as keen due to the increased frequency with which he made mistakes.
A new deal on a reduced salary was on the table for De Gea but talks broke down after Man Utd reportedly withdrew this offer and asked him to accept even worse terms.
This was ultimately a blessing in disguise for Man Utd as they parted company with a goalkeeper who was once among the best in the world, but has been on the decline for several years. And he’s been replaced by former Ajax star Andre Onana, who is far more suited to Ten Hag’s system given what the manager demands from a ball-playing goalkeeper.
RB: Axel Tuanzebe
I was short of options at right-back with it becoming increasingly apparent that Aaron Wan-Bissaka has managed to win over Ten Hag, so versatile defender Tuanzebe has to slot in here.
It is now four years since his impressive loan spell at Aston Villa. At the time, he was being billed as a future captain for Man Utd but he has endured a nightmare few seasons that has seen him play very little whether that be for the Premier League giants or out on loan.
Tuanzebe has been hampered by injuries as he’s been restricted to just 90 appearances in senior football. And at the age of 25, this is nowhere near enough and the defender (currently on trial at Luton Town) is in desperate need of a loving new home where he can get some regular opportunities.
CB: Eric Bailly
While Maguire and Victor Lindelof languished on the sidelines for much of last season, Bailly was even further down the pecking order and spent last term on loan at Ligue 1 outfit Marseille.
The French team have not taken up the option to sign him permanently but the defender seemingly hinted via Instagram last month that he is “done” at Man Utd.
The Red Devils will not lose too much sleep over this. While Bailly has shone in flashes, his time at Old Trafford has been marred by injuries (70 Premier League appearances since 2016) and in Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, Ten Hag has two laughably superior options at centre-back.
CB: Phil Jones
Bailly’s injury woes have been pretty bad, but Jones is in a whole league of his own in this department.
The Englishman has been reduced to a meme in recent years, but he was once a steady defender for Man Utd and he warrants credit for always giving it his all.
Jones’ exit has been a long time coming and it was formalised upon the expiry of his contract this summer. And whether he ends his career in England or abroad, it would be great to see him get some game time for a couple of years before riding off to the sunset with the pretty pennies he earned at Man Utd.
LB: Alex Telles
Signed in 2020 to compete with Luke Shaw, Telles was trounced by the England international in the battle for starts in the left-back berth at Old Trafford.
His status at Man Utd was hampered further by Ten Hag’s insistence on a raid for Netherlands full-back Tyrell Malacia, who has been a more reliable back-up than the Portugal international.
Telles – who was on loan at Sevilla last season – may have at least had a sly smile on his face when the Spanish side dumped Man Utd out of the Europa League. And while he will be remembered as a flop in England, he is now earning obscene money as a teammate of Ronaldo at Al Nassr so he’ll be content enough.
CM: Paul Pogba
From one player who has just moved to Saudi Arabia to one who will surely make his way to the Middle East before long.
The £89m signing of Pogba is a pretty clear symbol of a broken Man Utd regime that Ten Hag is in the process of fixing. The midfielder – who never seemed fully content following his return to England – has immense natural ability, but he mostly left fans demanding more. Especially after showing what he is capable of when representing France.
Pogba and Man Utd was a partnership that was ultimately never meant to be and his injury-disrupted season for Juventus in 2022/23 proves that the grass is not always greener for ego-driven players who show disrespect to huge clubs and the manager (Jose Mourinho, namely) leading them from the touchline.
Fred’s summer move to Fenerbahce marks the end of the McFred era at Man Utd and football will never be the same again…
The Brazil international actually proven to be one of United’s better signings since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, but this is a damning indictment of the club’s awful transfer record.
The 30-year-old slipped down the pecking order last term but on the evidence of United’s awful midfield showing against Tottenham, they are not looking too much better without him in the picture.
RW: Tahith Chong
While Pereira perhaps left it too long before leaving Man Utd permanently, 23-year-old Chong departed just three years after his move to England from Feyenoord.
The attacker has shown while featuring for Championship side Birmingham City that he is not yet the final package but his flashes of quality have tempted newly-promoted Luton Town to sign him for £4m this summer.
Luton’s business has made it clear that they have half of an eye on being back in the Championship by 2024 and this is sensible of them. But Chong is getting a crack at life in the Premier League at a well-run club where he will be expected to be among their shining stars and in the long run this move could be the making of him.
CAM: Jesse Lingard
Hindsight is a wonderful thing in life and this is also the case in football. And if Lingard looks back now, he will surely know that he should have signed for West Ham permanently after his superb loan in 2021.
Since then, Lingard spent another year on the periphery at Man Utd before he flopped for Nottingham Forest during his inconsequential spell for Steve Cooper’s side in 2022/23.
Still without a club following his Forest exit, Lingard has been training with the Hammers this month but he still has work to do to tempt David Moyes into giving him a contract.
LW: Anthony Elanga
Following Telles’ move to the Saudi Pro League, Elanga is the second player to leave Man Utd for a fee this summer, with Forest snapping him up for around £15m.
Elanga was one of United’s better players during the 2021/22 season, but that simply says a lot about how poor the team were as a whole during the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick-inspired disaster year.
More sales like this are necessary if Ten Hag is to get his wish of signing Sofyan Amrabat and Elanga’s switch to Forest is one that should suit all parties.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo
It was always going to end in tears, wasn’t it?
It is often a risk to return to a former club and Ronaldo has shown that this trope can even impact one of the best players of all time.
Admittedly, Ronaldo’s first season back at Man Utd was superb on a personal level, but they were a much more cohesive team without him involved in 2022/23 and the forward’s heightened ego could not handle this fall from grace.
Ten Hag gave Ronaldo more than enough chances to redeem himself after his acts of petulance, but the 38-year-old man-child was not having it and his infamous interview with his biggest fan (Piers Morgan) was the final straw that resulted in his ill-fated exit and move to Saudi Arabia. So much for his obsession to join a club competing in the Champions League…