Manchester United fans have let out a collective groan after news that teenage full-backs Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson are two of nine players not in manager Jose Mourinho’s plans for next season, but there’s more to this story than meets the eye.
First off, this still appears to be speculation, with the Daily Mail, who broke the news, seemingly basing an awful lot on a group of players training with the Under-21 squad, and admitting that Fosu-Mensah ‘could earn a reprieve’ after recovering from injury.
The list is made up of the pair plus Paddy McNair, Tyler Blackett, Will Keane, James Wilson, Andreas Pereira, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Adnan Januzaj.
All nine could leave on loan, with the battered and bruised body of Schweinsteiger looking particularly hard to shift considering his reported £160,000 per week wages, while former United boss David Moyes’ Sunderland has already been rumoured as a temporary home for Januzaj.
However, at 21, 22 and 23-years-old, centre-halves McNair and Blackett and forward Keane seem likely to miss the boat under Mourinho, who appears perfectly willing to put his faith in Eric Bailly and Marcus Rashford, talents of around the same age or younger who play in the same positions.
Time is running out for striker Wilson, who bagged a brace on senior debut against Hull just over two years ago, when only 18-years-old, but has only managed two more for the Red Devils since, and an unspectacular five in 25 Championship appearances for Brighton last term.
Fosu-Mensah and Borthwick-Jackson don’t have that problem, as theirs is an issue of timing – both were chucked into the Old Trafford cauldron aged just 18 by a desperate Louis van Gaal, trying in vain to save his job, and impressed, catching the attention of beleaguered fans.
Such sentiment means nothing to Mourinho, who always keeps his squad trim and inherited a bottom-heavy roster thanks to Van Gaal having to constantly promote defenders from United’s academy during an injury-hit 2015/16 campaign.
The Stretford End faithful will be desperate for United to retain their double-barrel right-back duo, but a spate of loan moves always seemed likely once Mourinho took charge.
Man Utd are 7/2 to win the Premier League this season.