Manchester United have seemingly developed a reputation in recent times for failing to offload the fringe members of their squad, having struggled to show the same cold-blooded ruthlessness that has been the hallmark of rivals Manchester City‘s recent success.
While Pep Guardiola and co have shown their ability to move players on when needed and recoup a sizeable fee in the process – namely with the likes of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling who departed this summer – at Old Trafford, the common theme has been to dish out fresh deals to players who are wholly undeserving of an extension.
That has notably been the case with out-on-loan defender Eric Bailly – who was rewarded with a new contract last year despite having never been a regular fixture in the side – while even playmaking star Bruno Fernandes was recently handed an unwarranted bumper new deal after a dismal season both on a collective and individual basis.
There had even been talk that Paul Pogba was offered a hefty new deal at the end of last season despite the often tiring and turbulent nature of his time at the club, with it somewhat fortunate that the polarising Frenchman opted to reject those terms in order to secure a return to Juventus.
As was evident in the case of the World Cup winner, there is seemingly a fear among the Red Devils’ hierarchy of players going on to impress elsewhere upon their exit from the Theatre of Dreams, hence the willingness to hand out lengthy and often expensive extensions.
Arguably the most notable example of that foolishness was the decision to hand defender Phil Jones a new four-year deal back in 2019, despite the Englishman having largely underwhelmed since his arrival from Blackburn Rovers in 2011.
That move has, unsurprisingly, backfired spectacularly for United, with the club now stuck with an injury-prone player – raking in a reported £75k-per-week salary – who has made just six league appearances since the start of the 2019/20 season.
Such a move is seemingly inexplicable for a player who scored just five league goals since the start of the 2020/21 season, having also spent the second half of last term out on loan at Sevilla after falling out of favour at the Manchester outfit.
Just when it looked as if he could potentially get his United career back on track, however, the typically “unreliable” forward – as dubbed by Francis Abban – has since been a bystander in the early weeks of the season due to injury, with his solitary appearance thus far coming off the bench in the win over Liverpool.
Although he laid on an assist in what was a lively 45-minute cameo against the Merseyside outfit, it beggars belief that the club may already be contemplating a new deal for the 26-year-old off the back of one second-half display and following a promising pre-season.
It would seem that the club must learn from their previous mistakes – particularly in the case of Jones – and wait for Martial to truly put together a consistent run of form before even contemplating contract talks, with it far too early in the season for such discussions to be had.
Having already had seven years to prove his worth in English football, Ten Hag and co must think twice before allowing him to extend that already lengthy stay.