Man Utd: which players should Van Gaal keep at Old Trafford?

Robbie Savage

In his regular BBC Sport column, Robbie Savage looks at which of the 18 Manchester United first-team players close to the end of their contracts manager Louis van Gaal should try to keep at Old Trafford.

There has been lots of talk this week about whether Radamel Falcao is staying at Old Trafford beyond the end of the season - but there are many more Manchester United players whose futures are uncertain.

Eighteen United players who have played in the Premier League for the club are out of contract this summer, or within 18 months.

Not many of them have warranted a new deal with their performances this season and I am not surprised there is talk of another big clear-out by manager Louis van Gaal, rather than a rush to offer them new deals.

Since he took charge at United last summer, Van Gaal has got rid of 15 players either permanently or on loan.

He has more decisions to make about who stays and who goes as he continues to rebuild his squad, but there are 10 players who I don't think should be offered a new contract.

Out of contract at the end of 2014-15

The seven Manchester United players who are out of contract in the summer of 2015
Seven Manchester United players are out of contract in the summer of 2015
Tyler Blackett, from youth
Age: 20DefenderPL starts 2014-15: 6

Injuries meant Van Gaal gave him his debut and it is hard to judge him properly at the moment, with so much upheaval in the United defence. However, you do not play for United at such a young age if your manager does not believe in you. VERDICT: KEEP

Did you know? Blackett made his debut in Van Gaal's first competitive game in charge of United, playing on the left of a three-man defence in their 2-1 home defeat by Swansea on the opening day of the season.

Paddy McNair, from youth
Age: 19DefenderPL starts 2014-15: 7

Thrown in for the same reasons as Blackett, and has had to deal with the same issues. Again, one for the future. VERDICT: KEEP

Did you know? In nine league games this season, McNair has played in nine different three- or two-man central-defensive combinations.

Michael Carrick, £18m from Tottenham in 2006
Age: 33MidfielderPL starts 2014-15: 11

Carrick is the oldest outfield player in United's squad, but his role does not rely on pace or covering a lot of ground. He is still one of their best midfielders - great on the ball and a calming influence when he plays. Worth another year. VERDICT: KEEP

Did you know? United have won 63.6% of Premier League games with Carrick in their starting XI this season, compared with 30% without him.

Tom Cleverley, from youth
Age: 25MidfielderPL starts 2014-15: 18

Aston Villa have the chance to buy him for £7m this month as part of his loan deal but I think his price has gone down since he moved there in September. There will not be a queue of clubs for him in the summer. VERDICT: CAN GO

Did you know? Cleverley has started 17 Premier League games for Villa this season, and one for United, but is yet to score or provide an assist.

Darren Fletcher, from youth
Age: 30MidfielderPL starts 2014-15: 4

After missing so much football because of his illness, I am sure he now wants to play regularly and he is not going to be able to do that at United. If I was him, I would leave, and I am not surprised there is plenty of interest in him. VERDICT: CAN GO

Did you know? Fletcher has only played more than 45 minutes in three league games this season, and has not done so since August.

Anderson, £20m from Porto in 2007
Age: 26MidfielderPL starts 2014-15: 0

Only still at the club because they cannot get rid of him. VERDICT: CAN GO

Did you know? Anderson played just 40 minutes for United in the whole of 2014. He came off the bench for 20 minutes in United's 4-0 League Cup defeat by MK Dons on 26 August and did the same in the 0-0 draw with Burnley on 30 August.

Radamel Falcao, season-long loan from Monaco
Age: 28StrikerPL starts 2014-15: 7

He is expensive - his wages are £265,000 a week and turning his loan into a permanent move would cost United £43.5m in the summer.

His injury record and fitness is a concern but I would still keep him because, if he has got over the serious knee injury he suffered in January last year, he is undoubtedly a world-class striker.

I don't think United will sign him though - the writing was on the wall when he was left out of the squad for Sunday's defeat by Southampton, which I thought was the wrong decision.

He needs to play regularly - if he does that he will produce. If he doesn't play week in, week out, there is no point signing him permanently. VERDICT: KEEP (BUT I DON'T THINK UNITED WILL)

Did you know? Falcao has played the full 90 minutes just twice in his 12 appearances so far for United.

Out of contract at the end of 2015-16

The 11 Manchester United players who are out of contract in the summer of 2016
11 Manchester United players are out of contract in the summer of 2016
David De Gea, £18.9m from Atletico Madrid in 2011
Age: 24GoalkeeperPL starts 2014-15: 21

Has developed into one of the best goalkeepers in the world. United should make it a priority to get him tied down on a new deal as quickly as they can. But the problem might be if Real Madrid do come in for him - if they do, it might be very difficult for United to keep him. VERDICT: KEEP (IF THEY CAN)

Did you know? Of PL keepers to play a minimum of 15 games this season, De Gea ranks third in terms of his save-to-shots rate (73.42%), behind Swansea's Lukasz Fabianksi (75.56%) and Aston Villa's Brad Guzan (74.16%).

Victor Valdes, free transfer in 2015
Age: 33GoalkeeperPL starts 2014-15: 0

Valdes turned 33 on 14 January but is still young for a goalkeeper. Van Gaal said the former Barcelona keeper joined this month as a number two but says he will fight to be number one. In an ideal world, United would keep hold of De Gea and Valdes - I know I would - but who knows whether that will happen? VERDICT: KEEP

Did you know? While with Barcelona, Victor Valdes won six La Liga titles and the Champions League three times.

Anders Lindegaard, £3.5m from Aalesund in 2010
Age: 30GoalkeeperPL starts 2014-15: 0

Has slipped further down the pecking order with the arrival of Valdes. VERDICT: CAN GO

Did you know? Anders Lindegaard's last competitive game came in Man Utd's 4-0 away win against Newcastle United on 15 April 2014.

Phil Jones, £17m from Blackburn in 2011
Age: 22DefenderPL starts 2014-15: 10

With Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand leaving in the summer, he had the chance to step up and grab his place at centre-half by the scruff of the neck. He has not done that. A good player, but not good enough for United. VERDICT: CAN GO

Did you know? United have won 20% of PL games this season with Jones starting, compared with 72.7% without him in the starting XI.

Chris Smalling, £7m from Fulham in 2010
Age: 25DefenderPL starts 2014-15: 10

A great athlete but not a good enough footballer. Also switches off too often. VERDICT: CAN GO

Did you know? Smalling has made more clearances (76) and blocks (8) than any other Man Utd player in the PL this season.

Jonny Evans, from youth
Age: 27DefenderPL starts 2014-15: 8

As with Jones and Smalling, I don't think what Van Gaal has seen of Jonny Evans this season is going to make him rush out and give him a new deal. He is the best of those three on the ball but he is not a commanding centre-half and Van Gaal is not going to think he can build his team round Evans at the back. VERDICT: CAN GO

Did you know? Evans has averaged a pass every 1.24 minutes in the PL this season, the best rate of any defender in the top-tier (min 450 mins played).

Rafael, £2.5m from Fluminese in 2008
Age: 24DefenderPL starts 2014-15: 6

Can lose concentration defensively but offers a lot when he goes forward. I would buy a new right-back but keep Rafael as a squad player. VERDICT: KEEP

Did you know? Rafael ranks in the top 10 for dribbles by PL defenders this season, embarking on a dribble every 34.53 minutes, the ninth-best figure for a defender (min 450 mins played).

Ashley Young, £17m from Aston Villa in 2011
Age: 29Wing-backPL starts 2014-15: 11

This time last year, he was one of the players I thought should leave United but he has turned things around and has been one of United's best performers as a wing-back this season. VERDICT: KEEP

Did you know? United have lost only once in the Premier League this season with Young in the side (W6 D6 L1), with that defeat coming on the opening day against Swansea.

Nick Powell, £3m from Crewe Alexandra in 2012
Age: 20MidfielderPL starts 2014-15: 0

His season-long loan at Leicester has been cut short, and he did not play for them much either. Needs to drop down to the Championship and get some games. VERDICT: CAN GO

Did you know? Powell made three substitute appearances, totalling 40 minutes, in three months with the Foxes.

Robin van Persie, £24m from Arsenal in 2012
Age: 31StrikerPL starts 2014-15: 20

I am torn. He is a legend of the Premier League but will turn 33 soon after his Manchester United contract ends in the summer of 2016.

Unlike with Carrick and Valdes, who are both older than Van Persie, age is a factor here because of his position.

I would keep him next season because he has definitely still got a lot to offer.

But after that, his age might mean his best days as an out-and-out striker, who has relied on his reactions and pace while playing on the shoulder of the last defender, are behind him.

Man Utd manager Louis van Gaal and striker Robin van Persie
Van Gaal must decide whether to offer Van Persie a new deal

So the end of his current deal might be the time for him to move on, and think about a lucrative move to somewhere like the MLS in the United States.

He has had an amazing career but there will be no sentiment from Van Gaal either when the decision is made. VERDICT: CAN GO

Did you know? Van Persie has scored 56 goals in 96 games in all competitions for United and his strike-rate of 0.58 goals per game puts him fourth in the club's all-time list behind Tommy Taylor (0.69), Ruud van Nistelrooy (0.68) and Denis Law (0.59).

Javier Hernandez, £6m from Guadalajara in 2010
Age: 26StrikerPL/LL starts 2014-15: 2

Van Gaal has already sent him out on loan, and he has not featured much for Real Madrid this season. Hard to see a way back for him at Old Trafford. VERDICT: CAN GO

Did you know? Hernandez has played just eight times for Real Madrid this season in La Liga, and only one of those has been a start (vs Levante in October).

Rebuilding will not be cheap

I said at the start of January 2014 that Manchester United must spend £200m to rebuild their squad to the standard that once made sides visiting Old Trafford feel helpless.

With David Moyes signing Juan Mata for £37m soon after that, and his successor Van Gaal spending £150m in the summer, they have almost spent that amount already but it still feels like a lot of work needs to be done.

Van Gaal needs to rebuild the centre of his defence and sign another midfield player, so you are looking at another £100m or so on top and it is clear that his rebuilding job has only just begun.

Robbie Savage was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan

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