Reports suggest that Louis van Gaal was set to offload as much as seven Manchester United players before the start of the new season. Amongst them are the likes of Javier Hernandez, Marouane Fellaini, Rafael, Nani, Anderson, Wilfred Zaha, and Will Keane.
The mentioned names are believed to not be able to fit into the plans of the Dutch boss and replacements are likely to be on their way into the clubs. Some players managed to avoid the so-called Van Gaal ‘AXE’ but that doesn’t mean their place in the squad is completely safe.
Here are FIVE Manchester United players that must prove themselves this season or risk losing the chance altogether…
Name: Ashley Young
Price: £12 – £14 million
Ashley Young was a step away from joining the list of players Louis van Gaal didn’t need at the club but, due to his impressive form during the USA tour, he could even be given a first team role. He excelled playing as a wing back in Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation and would be an ideal candidate to compete with Luke Shaw.
With Rafael likely looking at a club exit, Young could even play on the right side, either as a regular or serve as back-up to Antonio Valencia. However, any drop in form during the Premier League season could see him be replaced completely in the January window.
Name: Danny Welbeck
Price: £13 – £16 million
Throughout the summer Danny Welbeck was being linked with a move away from Manchester United, with Tottenham Hotspur believed to be a possible destination. The biggest problem for him now is that Louis van Gaal doesn’t have any advance wingers, meaning he can play nowhere else except as a striker.
We have seen him on the wings in the past, but with two wing backs, Welbeck has little chance to excel in that role. Now, with Javier Hernandez likely to leave, he will be the first in line to replace either Wayne Rooney or Robin van Persie should anything happen to them.
He will have to prove himself to Van Gaal before his manager decides to bring in another striker, therefore his time to impress is now.
Name: Adnan Januzaj
Position: Winger / Centre Attacking Midfield
Price: £40 million (Rejected bid from Paris Saint-Germain)
Adnan Januzaj was one of the stand-out players in their chaotic previous season, but with the arrival of Louis van Gaal, he looks to have lost a first team place. Being hailed as a Manchester United wonderkid, it is unlikely that the club will sell him, but we could see him loaned out for more first team experiences.
His place in the squad is currently safe, but if he doesn’t take advantage of his chances, he could slowly drop further down the pecking order. With a wing role unlikely, he now needs to compete with Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa for a place behind the two strikers.
Name: Antonio Valencia
Position: Right Winger
Price: £10 – £15 million
From Manchester United’s best player of the year in the 2011-2012 campaign, Valencia has seen a huge drop in performance over the past two seasons. As of now his place is quite secured due to his ability to be deployed into the Louis van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation at wing back. His experience as a right back during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign may now come back to save his career.
However, if United can secure the signing of Juan Cuadrado, Valencia’s place in the squad will be under heavy threat. The Colombian star is tailor-made to play as a right wing back and could easily overtake the Ecuadorian to a place in Van Gaal’s starting 11.
Name: Luke Shaw
Position: Left Back
Price: £30 million
Luke Shaw’s £30 million move to Manchester United doesn’t instantly mean that he will become a top class player as he still needs to prove himself despite his huge price tag. There were some fitness concerns early on as Louis van Gaal began putting the young star on extra workout routines.
With Ashley Young picking up form, if Shaw fails to make an immediate impact down the left flank, both in an attacking and defensive sense, he could easily see his role the squad being replaced. Many people have been questioning his price, his salary, and his abilities, so there is no better way to silence his critics than by proving his worth on the pitch.