Manchester United return to training: What next for Greenwood, Sancho and transfers?

Manchester United have a new executive structure in place and Erik ten Hag has just had his contract extended by a year to 2026.

Dan Ashworth, their new sporting director, started work on July 1, and Christopher Vivell, their temporary director of global talent, has also begun his role.

One of the issues overhanging United was Ten Hag’s future, but The Athletic revealed on June 11 he would stay as manager after a review process and that was confirmed when the club triggered the one-year option on his deal.

Even though these were important boxes for United to tick off, there are still plenty of unanswered questions for the Premier League side to deal with.

What is happening with Mason Greenwood? Where does Jadon Sancho fit in? Will they manage to offload several unwanted squad members?

So, with pre-season on the horizon and the players reporting back for duty, United know they still need to resolve several issues.

The Athletic analyses the key issues before players return to Carrington…

When are Manchester United back in training?

The first group of United players will be reporting for pre-season tomorrow (July 8).

Those who are returning from their summer break will undergo a series of fitness tests to gauge their levels after a break from training.

The club’s players who did not go on international duty packed up for the summer after United’s FA Cup final win against Manchester City on June 1, meaning they have had just over a month off.

There will be a staggered return for the players who have been competing at Euro 2024 and the Copa America.

Dan Sheldon

Which players are still away?

United have had multiple players competing at Euro 2024, including captain Bruno Fernandes and Diogo Dalot (Portugal), Luke Shaw, Kobbie Mainoo and Tom Heaton (England), Christian Eriksen and Rasmus Hojlund (Denmark), and Scott McTominay (Scotland).

The Copa America is taking place in the U.S., with United also having players featuring for their national sides in the competition. Alejandro Garnacho and Lisandro Martinez are playing for Argentina, while Facundo Pellistri was called up to the Uruguay squad.

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Garnacho has been on Argentina duty (David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It is common for club sides to give an extended break to the players away on international duty to ensure they have an adequate rest and return to training refreshed and ready for the new season.

Because of that, Ten Hag will not have a full squad present when they begin their work towards the 2024-25 season.

Dan Sheldon

Will there be any new players?

Unfortunately for supporters, no.

United are yet to make any signings, although they are in talks with Bayern Munich over a deal for Matthijs de Ligt, the former Ajax and Juventus centre-back.

They also bid an initial £35million plus £8m in add-ons for Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite. Everton value the 22-year-old at around £70m and deemed United’s offer to be unacceptable.

Even though they have not added to Ten Hag’s squad, United are working behind the scenes to bring new players in ahead of the new season. Strengthening the defence remains a priority, and their move for De Ligt is independent of their bid to sign Branthwaite.

They will, however, need to free up space in their squad and generate transfer fees if they are to significantly improve their squad due to the need to comply with profit and sustainability rules (PSR).

Dan Sheldon

Will there be any new coaches?

The expectation is that Ten Hag will be adding Ruud van Nistelrooy, the former United striker, to his backroom staff, along with Rene Hake, the current head coach of the Go Ahead Eagles in the Netherlands.

Those additions are yet to be confirmed by the club, but the hope is that they will be in place for Monday, so they can hit the ground running.

United have been exploring options to refresh Ten Hag’s backroom staff, and the arrivals of Van Nistelrooy and Hake are likely to lead to the departure of Mitchell van der Gaag, Ten Hag’s current assistant.

There is also uncertainty surrounding Benni McCarthy’s future. McCarthy, who had been working as the club’s striker coach, is out of contract and there has been no suggestion that a new deal has been offered by United.

United are also working on a deal to bring in Jelle ten Rouwelaar, who spent last season in the Premier League at Burnley, as goalkeeper coach. Richard Hartis, who has been United’s goalkeeping coach since 2019, joining under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, will be departing.

Dan Sheldon

What’s the latest on Mason Greenwood’s return?

After his loan spell at Getafe ended, Greenwood is a United player once more and would typically be expected to return to training with the rest of the squad on Monday.

However, Greenwood is likely to be given additional time off as the club continues working to secure a possible sale. Marseille and Lazio are in advanced talks for the 22-year-old.

Greenwood has not trained at Carrington since his arrest for attempted rape, assault, and coercive control in January 2022 and subsequent suspension by United.

Following the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service decision to discontinue the case last year, United initially planned to reintegrate Greenwood but performed a U-turn, ultimately deciding he would resume his career away from Old Trafford.

He has attracted interest from a range of European clubs this summer, having scored 10 goals in 36 appearances for Getafe last season.

Mark Critchley

What’s the latest on Jadon Sancho’s return? 

Jadon Sancho is due to return to Carrington following the end of his loan spell at Borussia Dortmund, even though his differences with Ten Hag remain unresolved.

Sancho was placed on a personal training programme away from the rest of the squad last September after publicly criticising Ten Hag, claiming he had been made “a scapegoat for a long time”, and then refusing to apologise.

Ten Hag’s contract extension makes the 24-year-old’s reintegration difficult unless there is a reconciliation. At the start of the window, United were open to listening to offers for Sancho regardless of their manager’s future.

An asking price of £40m is yet to be met, however, with Sancho’s salary of more than £200,000 per week and status as one of United’s highest-earning players meaning there are obstacles to a quick sale.

Sancho’s return is viewed as a chance to turn over a new leaf and revive his Old Trafford career although it is unclear whether there will be clear-the-air talks on his return with Ten Hag at this stage.

Mark Critchley

Which other players still need their futures decided?

While Greenwood and Sancho’s futures are clouded due to disciplinary issues, others face more run-of-the-mill questions over their contract and transfer status.

Jonny Evans is out of contract and, while talks continue with the 36-year-old, whether he will still be part of Ten Hag’s squad next season is yet to be confirmed.

There is similar uncertainty over Sofyan Amrabat, with a final decision still to be made on whether United will pursue a deal for the Morocco international after his season-long loan spell from Fiorentina came to an end.

Jonny Evans, Manchester United

Evans’ future remains uncertain (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Five players — Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Eriksen, Willy Kambwala and Hannibal — have entered the final year of their contracts without an option to extend.

Harry Maguire, McTominay and Amad are among players also entering their final 12 months but with one-year clauses able to be triggered.

United do not typically enter new contract negotiations while the summer transfer window is open, preferring to take stock once the deadline has passed and settle futures on a case-by-case basis.

Mark Critchley

When do United start playing friendlies?

Just as they did last summer, United’s pre-season starts with a pair of friendlies in Norway and Scotland, before flying out for their tour of the United States.

Ten Hag’s side return to action the day after the Euro 2024 and Copa America finals on 15 July, with a friendly against Rosenborg in Trondheim.

United then travel to play Rangers at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium five days later. Due to many players either being on international duty or holidaying after involvement at tournaments, Ten Hag is likely to lean on a number of academy players in both fixtures.

United will later fly out to Los Angeles, where they will face Arsenal at the SoFi Stadium on July 27. A meeting with Real Betis at San Diego’s Snapdragon Stadium, which shares its name with United’s new front-of-shirt sponsor, follows on 31 July.

Liverpool then await on the east coast at the Williams-Brice Stadium in South Carolina on August 3.

Mark Critchley

(Top image: Getty Images)

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