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Man Utd’s dream 26-man squad after January transfer window closes as ‘seventh exit set’ | Football | Sport

Manchester United have been busy in the January transfer window as Erik ten Hag continued to mould his squad for the present and future. There have been no new arrivals at Old Trafford, but six players have left the building, and a seventh is reportedly imminent.

United are said to be scouring the striker market in anticipation of any opportunities to boost Ten Hag’s firepower with a cut-price or loan deal for the second half of the season.

And at least three more could be heading out the exit door before the winter deadline at the end of the month, starting with Facundo Pellistri.

United reportedly expect the 22-year-old winger to join La Liga side Granada on loan for the remainder of the campaign shortly.

Midfield starlet Dan Gore, 19, could also leave in the coming days amid interest in a loan from League One.

Anthony Martial appears to be digging his heels in over a January switch, preferring to run down his contract and leave on a free transfer this summer. An enticing offer could yet change the situation, though.

Express Sport explores how Ten Hag will want his 26-man squad to look beyond January as he faces a crunch few months in the Old Trafford hot seat.

Goalkeepers – Onana, Bayindir, Heaton

No changes here. Altay Bayindir will make his United debut in the FA Cup fourth-round clash at Newport County on January 28.

Andre Onana will resume his role as first-choice goalkeeper after his Africa Cup of Nations participation. Tom Heaton is set to leave on a free transfer once his final few months as the club’s third goalkeeper are up.

Defenders – Wan-Bissaka, Dalot, Varane, Martinez, Maguire, Lindelof, Evans, Kambwala, Shaw, Malacia

Aaron Wan-Bissaka could leave in the summer once he enters the final 12 months of his contract, but he’ll remain Diogo Dalot’s right-back competition for now.

Luke Shaw will hope to stay injury-free in the second half of the season. As will Tyrell Malacia, who is set to return soon from a long-term knee problem.

Ten Hag’s centre-back options have been pierced with injury issues this term. He’s bound to be keen for Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez to reignite their formidable partnership in the heart of his defence.

Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Jonny Evans and breakout teenager Willy Kambwala are also available and have been used more often than they would’ve expected already.

Midfielders – Casemiro, Amrabat, Mainoo, McTominay, Fernandes, Mount, Eriksen

United need Casemiro back to his best in the coming months after a disappointing start to the season was halted by an injury. Sofyan Amrabat will be available again once Morocco exit AFCON.

Kobbie Mainoo has been one of the shining lights of a miserable campaign. He will likely retain his starting spot even when all of Ten Hag’s midfielders are back in contention.

Scott McTominay, Christian Eriksen and Mason Mount will be the ones battling for Mainoo’s place if Casemiro resumes his regular starting status.

United captain Bruno Fernandes is, of course, the first name on Ten Hag’s team sheet for every outing. That won’t end any time soon.

Attackers – Antony, Amad, Rashford, Garnacho, Hojlund, Benzema

Yeah, you read that right. United are reportedly currently not moved by the prospect of whisking Karim Benzema away from Saudi Arabia on a short-term deal.

But the 36-year-old Ballon d’Or winner is claimed to be looking for a way out, and the Red Devils have a track record of luring iconic but ageing strikers to Old Trafford. Perhaps Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS’ influence will change that…

Rasmus Hojlund needs experienced competition to aid his development. Martial isn’t providing it. The striker doesn’t have to be Benzema, but this is a dream squad, after all.

Amad’s return from injury offers a fresh option at right wing, joining Antony and Alejandro Garnacho. Marcus Rashford’s confidence is growing on the left.

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