Manchester United officially re-signed centre-back Chris Smalling on Saturday and will pay him £120,000-per-week for the next three seaosns. The centre-back, who joined Manchester United in 2010 from Fulham, will remain at Old Trafford until the summer of 2022.
Despite Jose Mourinho looking to add new centre-backs in each transfer window since he arrived, Smalling has been a constant for the Red Devils.
The 29-year-old, who cost Manchester United £7.2 million, has played 307 times scoring 18 goals for the club. With a new deal in place, Smalling will be entitled to a Manchester United testimonial. However, a number of supporters have already expressed their displeasure on social media of Smalling remaining at the club.
Manchester United with a number of expiring contracts
Smalling is the first Manchester United player with an expiring contract to put pen to paper. The centre-back could be the first of a number of additional Red Devils to re-new with the club.
Both David De Gea and Anthony Martial are out of contract next summer. Manchester United do have the ability to trigger an option for an additional season, but both players could still walk away in 2020 for free.
Ashley Young, Juan Mata, Phil Jones, Ander Herrera, Antonio Valencia, Andreas Pereira, and Matteo Darmian are also out of contract. In total, nine players will have their deals expire in 2019 — although club options are available on a few.
The number of expiring deals shows a lack of foresight by the club to tie down certain players prior to their final seasons. Young, Mata, Herrera, and Valencia have all been, at one time or another, important to Mourinho. Yet, each is considering their future at Old Trafford. Pereira and Darmian are certain to leave as playing time has been limited after both were highly sought after only to see their careers regress.
If Manchester United allow a surge of players to leave, it could be difficult to find the necessary replacements needed. Moreover, it would take experienced players away from the team.
What will Manchester United look like in 2019-20?
It is difficult to foresee just how Manchester United will look next season. Players have fallen out with Mourinho and there is a possibility the manager could leave.
The most important players Manchester United need to keep are both De Gea and Martial. De Gea has been the team’s best player since arriving from Atletico Madrid while Martial has been the Red Devils top oufield performer this term.
Manchester United are in a position in which re-building the should be a priority. Despite staying competitive, the Red Devils need an injection of talent they are lacking in each positions except for goalkeeper.
Although re-building is necessary, the Red Devils don’t have to break the bank to do it. Arsenal and Liverpool should be used as examples of clubs who have scouted well and bought wisely, while still being able to buy expensive players. There are more players like Matteo Guendouzi and Xherdan Shaqiri available that would be smarter buys than those like Fred.
Follow Drew Farmer on Twitter @DrewMFarmer