Manchester United shouldn't be surprised about players letting contracts wind down
For Manchester United, their up-turn in form on the pitch has been well documented. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Red Devils' overall outlook is feeling far more positive.
There are still one or two areas within the squad that need major upgrades, however. That all cannot be done in one window, although a failure to invest in the squad last season certainly set United back considerably. While the club must invest in the playing squad, there's also the task of keeping the current members of the team happy.
That task is made all-the-harder due to the lack of ambition shown by the board twelve months ago. When you combine that with the inability to compete for major pieces of silverware, is it really a surprise that United's top performers aren't ready to commit to shiny new contracts?
Take Ander Herrera for example. The Basque-born midfielder is a real fan favourite. When he plays, the team perform far better. It's the energy, passion, desire and drive. He loves this club just like your everyday fan. However, he's had his head turned by Paris Saint-Germain if you believe recent reports. Can you blame him? They'd likely offer him a bigger pay packet while guaranteeing multiple trophies year-in-year-out. When you throw the fact that Herrera is by no means a guaranteed starter on any given matchday, he'd be daft not to consider his options.
For what it's worth, I think Herrera will stay because he's an extremely loyal bloke. This situation isn't something to be ignored, however. If the club keeps being run into the ground, we'll see this happen far more frequently, ala Arsenal losing Samir Nasri, Robin van Persie et al.
Then you have Herrera's compatriot, David de Gea. Without doubt, he's the best in the business in between the sticks. United thought they were home and dry as Real Madrid finally set their sights elsewhere and landed Thibaut Courtois. However, the Belgian has failed to impress. Don't be surprised if Zinedine Zidane reignites interest in De Gea. Now aged 28, the #1 has probably already given United a few more seasons than they deserve. He should be looking to move away at the first possible opportunity. Why would he jeopardise that by signing a new long-term contract?
Similar situations could unfold in future. Paul Pogba's the first name that springs to mind, while even homegrown Marcus Rashford still hasn't put pen to paper. The latter lives and breathes United. What hope does the club have if he even has to think about possibly moving away?
What's most damning is the players who have signed new deals. Marcos Rojo put pen to paper on a new three-year contract less than a year ago. He has made four starts this term. Then you have Phil Jones who was all-too-willing to stay here despite a horrific injury record. He's apparently on £120,000-a-week. You're crazy if you think that's money well spent.
Luke Shaw is another prime example. The young man is immensely talented, there's no getting away from that. However, he had a good couple of months and United are throwing him a weekly wage of £190,000-a-week? The way this club is operating at the moment is completely wrong, and it may well take them losing a top player or two to realise that. Sometimes, you have to take a step backwards to move forward. That's where I commend Arsenal. They set a price-cap for Aaron Ramsey and refused to pay him a penny more. They've since let him walk away for free, but at least they're in control. At United currently, it's like feeding time at the zoo...