The Norwegian replaced Jose Mourinho but has been unable to better the Portuguese’s best finish in the league, a strong second place in 2017-18. Solskjær has seen his squad undergo major surgery, with his current first-choice attacking trio all aged 25-or-under, and a string of new additions this summer also expected to play starring roles.
In the four transfer windows since his appointment, Solskjær has offloaded no fewer than 14 first-team players, some of whom had spent years at the club, while others who had only threatened to break through from the youth setup, ultimately failing to make the cut.
Express Sport explores what happened to each of the 14 first-team players who left United under Solskjær’s watch.
Young defender Ro-Shaun Williams was the first casualty of the Solskjær era, moving to League One Shrewsbury Town just weeks after the Norwegian’s appointment. A former sprinter and England youth international, the now 22-year-old is in his third season at the Shropshire side and has made over 50 appearances for the club.
The first high-profile departure under Solskjær’s reign was one which had been in the offing for some time. A trusted super-sub under José Mourinho, Marouane Fellaini’s powers waned considerably during 2018 and the following January window saw him make a swift exit to Chinese Super League outfit Shandong Luneng.
The 32-year-old Belgian has scored 16 goals in 48 appearances for the Chinese club, according to Transfermarkt, and hasn’t made a senior appearance for Belgium since the 2018 World Cup.
Manchester United’s acquisition of former Arsenal forward Alexis Sánchez appears to have been one of the more ill-fated transfers in their recent history. The Chilean failed to adapt to life in Manchester, both on and off the pitch and was subsequently loaned to Inter Milan, unsurprisingly, for the 2019-20 season.
Inter then made the move permanent, signing the 31-year-old on a free transfer this summer, putting an end to his time at Old Trafford. He has made a handful of substitute appearances for Antonio Conte’s men so far this season, finding it difficult to oust the aforementioned Lukaku and Martínez.
Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has sold a number of players during his tenure
Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera was released at the end of the 2018-19 season and immediately joined French giants Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer. The central midfielder remains contracted to the Parisians until 2024.
Despite an injury-plagued first season, he now appears to be a regular under Thomas Tuchel and has won the Coupe de la Ligue, Coupe de France, Trophée des Champions and Ligue 1 in the space of a year, as well as appearing in last season’s Champions League Final.
Now retired, former Manchester United captain Antonio Valencia was released in the summer of 2019 and joined Ecuadorian side LDU Quito in his homeland. Despite making just seven appearances, he did win the Supercopa Ecuador during his time there, before leaving this summer.
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Former Manchester United prodigy James Wilson made an immediate impact at the club, but following a string of loans found himself atop United’s transfer list. He left Old Trafford at the end of his contract in 2019, joining Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership.
That move did not quite work out, and he was swiftly sold a year later to League Two outfit Salford City – co-owned by members of Manchester United’s Class of 92, including the Neville brothers Gary and Phil, and Paul Scholes.
Former Arsenal and Fulham youth product DJ Buffonge joined United as a 17-year-old, but failed to make the grade at Old Trafford despite there being much promise surrounding the teenage midfielder. He was released in 2019, joining Italian Serie B side Spezia Calcio shortly after.
Just three league appearances followed and Buffonge was released, subsequently signing for Dutch second tier side NAC Breda. He currently plays in the Netherlands alongside Manchester City loanee Lewis Fiorini.
Man Utd are looking to compete for the Premier League title
Swiss youth international Nishan Burkart joined Manchester United in 2016 from FC Zürich and soon graduated to the club’s Under-23 setup where he scored a string of goals but was firmly on the first-team fringes.
In the summer of 2019, Burkart was released, signing for German club SC Freiburg and joining up with their second team in the Regionalliga Südwest – the fourth tier. This season he has scored five times in 10 outings at that level, and sadly lost his father – a former Swiss sprinter and athletics coach – earlier this year.
Perhaps the most high-profile outgoing of the Solskjær era was Romelu Lukaku who joined Antonio Conte’s Internazionale in 2019 for a fee reported to be worth €80 million. While a success on the pitch, Lukaku felt as though he was unfairly criticised during his time at Old Trafford, and has thrived since making the move to Serie A.
The 27-year-old has seven goals in six games in all competitions at the beginning of this season and managed 34 strikes across 51 matches last season. He currently leads Inter’s line alongside Argentine international Lautaro Martínez.
Lukaku’s former United teammate Matteo Darmian is also playing at San Siro alongside the Belgian this year. Darmian was sold in the same summer as Lukaku, moving to Parma for around €13.5 million.
This year, the 30-year-old has been loaned to Conte’s Inter side, supplementing their options at right-back. Like United, he will be competing in the UEFA Champions League with Inter and hoping to topple Juventus’ nine-year hold on the Italian title.
Inter Milan have taken plenty of former Premier League players to Italy in recent years and Ashley Young happens to have been another. After spending nine years at Old Trafford, Young eventually left the club in January 2020, signing permanently in a deal worth €1.5 million. He earned an extension to his short-term deal in Milan, helping Inter to the final of the UEFA Europa League where they were defeated by Sevilla.
Young has a contract until the end of the 2020-21 season when it is expected the 35-year-old will be released by the Italian giants.
Man Utd let Ashley Young leave for Inter Milan
In similar fashion to Ashley Young, Chris Smalling found himself surplus to requirements at Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjær, following the signing of England’s Harry Maguire.
Smalling spent ten years with United, having joined in 2010 from Fulham, making over 200 league appearances in the process. He spent the 2019-20 season on loan in Italy with AS Roma, before signing permanently for the capital club this summer. It is believed that the fee for his loan move and eventual transfer combined could rise to somewhere in the region of €23 million.
United prodigy Angel Gomes was the subject of much expectation and anticipation during his time in the under-23s but ultimately failed to prove his worth at first-team level. The youngster was released at the end of the 2019-20 season, joining French side LOSC Lille on a free transfer, which has been widely regarded as a smart pick-up.
Gomes was loaned to Portuguese side Boavista where he has become a regular in the more technical Liga NOS. Already this season, he has scored and registered three assists for the top flight club, echoing his cousin Nani’s contributions over a decade ago during his time at Sporting Clube de Portugal.
Published at Mon, 26 Oct 2020 15:45:10 +0000