Manchester United defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones could be heading for the Old Trafford exit
The sands of time are running down on the Old Trafford careers of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, claims the Daily Mirror, with the paper reporting that a “frustrated” Jose Mourinho plans to offload the defensive duo in the summer.
Apparently the United boss “had misgivings about the pair” even before Sunday’s shambolic 1-0 defeat at Newcastle but following their displays he has decided to definitively part company with them at the end of the season.
It’s not the first time that the two defenders have been linked with a move away from United, but despite the rumours last year Mourinho persisted with Smalling and Jones in the hope they would adapt to his way of thinking. That hasn’t happened, however, and the Mirror says that Sunday’s defeat at St James’ Park “exposed their underlying vulnerability at the back”.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed at United that their two biggest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester City, forked out £75m and £57m on centre-backs Virgil van Djik and Aymeric Laporte last month, and consequently Mourinho has told the United board that “they must start spending big on defenders”.
The Mirror says that one name on Mourinho’s summer shopping list is Leicester City and England defender Harry Maguire, and a £50m bid is likely to arrive at the King Power Stadium the moment the transfer window opens.
Additionally, it’s claimed that United scouts have been keeping an eye on France centre-half Raphael Varane. Currently with Real Madrid, he is one of the players expected to be a victim of the summer clear-out at the Bernabeu.