As well as signing new players over the summer, the Red Devils have also tied down their top talents to new deals as part of the Norwegian’ rebuild
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s vision for Manchester United is taking shape.
On Thursday, the 17-year-old Mason Greenwood became United’s youngest-ever European goalscorer and has now been tipped to sign a new, long-term contract at Old Trafford.
The wisdom of cutting Romelu Lukaku loose with no obvious replacement in place was questioned when the Belgian joined Inter over the summer.
However, the early signs are good when it comes to Greenwood. He has the technical capabilities and the physique to compete with Marcus Rashford in the United offensive line this season, at least in some part.
And if that contract comes soon, then Greenwood can be added to the list of renewals which have taken place at the club over the past few months.
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Luke Shaw was among the first to pledge his future to the club when an upturn in his form under Jose Mourinho earned him a pay rise. That contract, which will run until at least 2023, was signed last October, although the sometime-England international would do well to replicate the displays that brought about that extension until.
In January, Scott McTominay was also re-signed by United until at least 2023. Although doubts remain over his ability to cut it at the top level, he is one of those who demonstrates a commendable attitude and is quite often the one to set the tone for how United approach games.
At the end of that month, Anthony Martial signed up. He was a player who really struggled to earn the trust of Mourinho and even at one stage looked set to depart the club for Sevilla.
But he outlasted Jose and was among the bright spots in the early days of Solskjaer’s reign.
A new contract – reaching 2024 with an option for another year – protects the investment made in Martial back in 2015 when he joined as an unknown quantity from Monaco for some £50 million ($62m).
He is currently injured and has been plagued by inconsistency throughout his time at United, albeit under three different managers. Now is the time to repay the faith shown him by Solskjaer and executive vice-chair Ed Woodward.
Then came a big one. Marcus Rashford’s contract situation finally got sorted over the summer, with United committing some £200,000 ($250,000) per week in wages to tie down their star academy product.
His previous deal was due to expire in 2020, meaning he would have been free in January to negotiate with overseas clubs. Rashford held all the aces when it came to sitting down to discuss terms with the club owing to the £500,000-plus weekly outlay on Alexis Sanchez.
The England international was, thus, retained at considerable expense, and the jury is very much out on Rashford’s ability to convert his long-standing potential into something more consistent.
This week brought more news on the contract front.
Goalkeeper David de Gea is in line for a bumper windfall, having pledged his future to United to 2023 at least. There was a genuine fear that United would lose their four-time Player of the Year for free, considering how badly they’d regressed during his time at the club.
United took the decision to extend De Gea’s contract by a year in 2018 under Mourinho, a move which bought them some time to sort out the impasse. However poorly De Gea has been performing, the new long-term deal at least gives Solskjaer some certainty over his goalkeeping options going forward.
Next in line for a new deal was Victor Lindelof. No one is going to mistake the Swede for an unqualified success at Old Trafford but there is something to work with at least.
He has started the season in decent form alongside Harry Maguire and is an upgrade on Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. Lindelof has been retained until at least 2024; like all of United’s other first-team players, the 25-year-old’s contract is subject to an automatic one-year extension clause if the club choose to take it up.
That’s the core of the team retained for the best part of the next half-decade. Even if Solskjaer is making some tactical mis-steps and some questionable transfer decisions, then at least United have managed to safeguard against another Ander Herrera situation developing any time soon.
Add into the mix the signings this summer of Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James and you can see United’s long-term plans taking shape.
While some problems have been merely deferred – Sanchez and Smalling will have to be dealt with next year – the manager has sorted out the heart of his squad. Jones and Marcos Rojo – presumably – will have to go too, while the likes of Ashley Young, Namanja Matic and Juan Mata have plenty of people questioning why they are still there.
Those who have signed the new deals are United’s best-regarded players for the future. Let them go and prove why.