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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 10 December, 2018

In an effort to reduce spiralling wages, Manchester United could sell some stars in January

But Luke Shaw and Marouane Fellaini are not the only ones whose contracts are up next summer.

MANCHESTER UNITED MAY cash in on some of their players in the January transfer window as Jose Mourinho plots more signings next summer.

According to the BBC’s Simon Stone, the club’s top-brass have instructed the Portuguese to reduce United’s increasing wage bill before turning his attention to new acquisitions.

Mourinho has signed seven players since arriving as boss in the summer of 2016 at a cost of £285m. Two – Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic – were brought in on bumper contracts and although the likes of Wayne Rooney and Bastian Schweinsteiger were pushed out the door, United’s wage bill has increased dramatically.

In September, United reported record revenues of £581m but the finer details revealed a pretty staggering spike of 13.5% in player earnings.

Inevitably, the club have decided that another summer splurge in 2018 should come with a caveat.

So, attention turns to the players likely to depart.

An obvious candidate is Luke Shaw, who has struggled to make his mark under Mourinho. The 22-year-old left-sided defender has battled injury and loss of form and, tellingly, has made just two substitute appearances this term – both of those in the League Cup. As Mourinho continues to figure out what to do with a problematic position, he’s lost all faith in Shaw. Instead of selecting a specialist, Mourinho now favours Ashley Young – a winger – to play as full-back or wing-back, with Daley Blind and Matteo Darmian as back-ups.

Back in April, Mourinho publicly rounded on Shaw, telling reporters:

I cannot compare the way he trains, the way he commits, the focus, the ambition. I cannot compare. He is a long way behind.”

Mourinho feels he’s done everything possible to try and coax a change in attitude from Shaw. But it certainly appears his days are numbered.

Shaw’s contract is up next summer which means he can start talking to other clubs from January onwards. And there are a few other United players in the same situation.

Blind – signed by Louis van Gaal in 2014 – is one, though his flexibility, particularly if Shaw is sold, is a bonus for Mourinho and may ensure he stays put.

Marouane Fellaini is in the final few months of his current deal and there are interested parties hovering, including Turkish side Besiktas. Mourinho is a fan but, with Fellaini turning 30 later this month, the club may feel they’ve already got the best out of the Belgian.

Another interesting subplot is Juan Mata.

Juan Mata file photo Source: Niall Carson

Having scored just once so far this term – and with the likes of Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan overshadowing him in terms of overall contribution, the Spaniard – who’s 30 next April – could find himself surplus to requirements.

Much was made of how Mourinho sold Mata to United in January 2014 when he was at Chelsea. At the time, the offer was just too good to turn down. Something similar may yet happen again at the end of the current campaign.

Mourinho can certainly count on Michael Carrick and Zlatan Ibrahimovic moving on next summer which will reduce that wage bill somewhat, but there will surely be some more departures

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Eoin O'Callaghan

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