Varane next? Man Utd outcast Sancho among six stars ushered out under Ten Hag to shine elsewhere

Lewis Oldham
Man Utd stars shine elsewhere
Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Mason Greenwood with Man Utd's badge.

Is Raphael Varane next? Here are six players who have impressed since being ushered towards a Manchester United exit during the Erik ten Hag era… 


Anthony Elanga (£15m, Nottingham Forest)
One of the few vaguely shining lights of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s miserable final season at Man Utd, Elanga slipped down the pecking order following Ten Hag‘s arrival before he was sold to Premier League rivals Forest last summer.

A solid operator but not considered up to Man Utd standard, the Sweden international was consistently mentioned in the same breath as Scott McTominay towards the tail end of his time at Old Trafford.

Here were two players whose effort could not be faulted, but it was widely felt that they would need to be replaced by an upgrade of higher quality if Man Utd were to return to the days of being Premier League title contenders.

Elanga’s exit was something that needed to happen for the club’s long-term progression. Yet up to now, he has benefited more from a move elsewhere than Man Utd, especially given that they have lacked options in wide areas for much of this season.

United’s loss has been Forest’s gain as Elanga has been an integral figure for the relegation strugglers. Thirteen Premier League goal involvements in his debut season is a great return and his versatility has proved invaluable as he’s done a job up front and on either flank when cover was needed due to injuries.


James Garner (£8.9m, Everton)
Twenty-three-year-old Garner shone as one of Forest’s many loanees during their Championship promotion season in 2021/22, which was expected to set up the midfielder for a first-team bow at boyhood club Man Utd.

Despite featuring prominently for Man Utd during pre-season, Garner was eventually deemed surplus to requirements and was sold to Everton for a cut-price fee at the end of the 2022 summer window.

The pure profit sale would have been handy for United, but the well-rounded midfielder’s performances for Everton suggest he could have had a long-term future at Old Trafford alongside fellow academy product Kobbie Mainoo.

But a summer which was dominated by Man Utd’s failed pursuit of Frenkie de Jong and the eventual signing of Casemiro showed Garner was not fancied by Ten Hag or his coaches.

Instead of lingering around at Old Trafford while only making a handful of appearances, Garner (after his injury-hit debut season) has come into his own under Sean Dyche and he has given himself the platform to kick on next season after his first full year as a regular in the Premier League.


Mason Greenwood (loan, Getafe)
Greenwood has shown his value on the pitch during his loan at Getafe. Man Utd are unlikely to sanction his return this summer as they are expected to cash in amid interest from FC Barcelona. 

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Andreas Pereira (£8.15m, Fulham)
Man Utd made a beeline for Pereira during his youth career to beat several Premier League rivals to secure his services, but his development did not go quite as intended.

He made just 75 senior appearances for the Red Devils and 40 of these outings came during the 2019/20 campaign. After his early career was dominated by loan spells across Europe and back home in Brazil, the 28-year-old has benefited from the security afforded to him by Fulham, who signed him permanently before the 2022/23 season.

Like Elanga and Garner, Pereira’s move to Fulham has proven to be a bargain for Marco Silva’s side, who have surpassed expectations in the last two seasons to comfortably stay clear of the fight to avoid relegation.

Entering his prime years, the three-cap Brazil international has emerged as a valuable asset for Fulham. He could easily be sold further afield for a sizeable profit in the coming windows, but the Cottagers would prefer to keep him as they look to further establish themselves as mainstays in the Premier League.


Marcel Sabitzer (end of loan)
Sabtizer (and Wout Weghorst) joined Man Utd during what proved to be an ill-fated January window in 2023 as they had to focus on low-cost deals to boost Ten Hag’s squad.

As Man Utd’s January loan signings go, Sabitzer’s arrival felt far more promising than Weghorst, but they both turned out to be pretty underwhelming.

Sabitzer’s loan from Bayern Munich did not include a buy option, but it was made clear that a permanent transfer was possible if he impressed at Man Utd with the Bundesliga giants eager to get rid.

The central midfielder did not do enough to force Man Utd’s hand as he instead joined Dortmund permanently last summer following the end of his Old Trafford loan.

Sabitzer failing to tempt Man Utd to buy him has become a blessing in disguise as he’s played a pivotal role for Dortmund during their run to the Champions League final.


Jadon Sancho (loan, Borussia Dortmund)
Sabitzer is likely to line up alongside Man Utd outcast Sancho for the Champions League final at Wembley on June 1.

Sancho joined Man Utd amid huge fanfare and anticipation, but his transfer to the Premier League giants did not come close to paying off before he was permitted to return to his happy place in Germany during this year’s transfer window.

Ten Hag’s treatment of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sancho largely garnered very differing responses from onlookers, with these situations likely to be seen as defining moments of the Dutchman’s time as Man Utd boss, which has ultimately been a failure.

The head coach and player’s respective hard-headedness after that post-Arsenal conflict last year made the chances of an Old Trafford reunion extremely unlikely, so Sancho returning to Dortmund on loan was always going to be the sensible next step.

Upon returning to Dortmund, Sancho has not been as sensational as some would like to pretend, but he has blossomed as the season nears its end and he particularly impressed while performing at his free-spirited best against PSG in the Champions League semi-finals.

Widespread reports suggest Ten Hag is expected to be sacked before next season. This could open the door for Sancho to return to Old Trafford, but he is clearly far more content in Dortmund, so he’d be wise to push for a loan extension or permanent return.

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