Manchester United trigger contract extensions for four first-team players

Erik ten Hag - Manchester United manager

Manchester United have triggered one-year contract extensions for four senior first-team stars, including Marcus Rashford, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw and Fred.

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Following the termination of Cristiano Ronaldo’s contract during the World Cup, Man Utd have turned to those who have earned the club’s trust, rewarding a quarter of first-team members with new deals. 

According to The Athletic, the Old Trafford powerbrokers have exercised an option to stretch the contracts of Rashford, Dalot, Shaw and Fred for a further year to prevent them from leaving for free next summer. 

Otherwise, all four players would have been free to exit Manchester at the end of the 2022/23 season. 

Despite signing Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord in the summer transfer window, ten Hag still heavily relies on long-serving Shaw on the left-hand side.

The 27-year-old left-back’s patchy form at the Threatre of Dreams failed to discourage Gareth Southgate from giving him a prominent role in Qatar as he was a regular starter for England at the World Cup.

Man Utd fans may still have a complaint or two over Shaw’s frequent fitness issues, but the former Southampton man remains a significant cog in ten Hag’s machine. 

The same goes for Fred, although the Brazilian midfielder has tumbled down the pecking order since his compatriot Casemiro swapped Real Madrid for United last summer. 

Since arriving from Shakhtar Donetsk in a megabuck deal in 2018, the 29-year-old has blown hot and cold, but United still refused to cut him loose without recouping some of the £47m they dashed out four years ago.

Of all the players to have seen their contracts extended, Dalot has perhaps the one to have deserved it the most, given his renaissance at Old Trafford. 

Many had questioned Man Utd’s decision to part with £19m to lure him away from Porto in 2018, but the attacking-minded right-back has grown into a top-class player. 

After his inspiring season-long loan at AC Milan in 2020/21, Dalot has gone from strength to strength in the Premier League, taking Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s place in the starting line-up at Old Trafford. 

His rise to prominence at United has also secured him a status of a permanent first-team fixture at Portugal’s national team, so it’s no wonder the Red Devils wanted to retain his services. 

Last but not least, Rashford, who has been through some tumultuous times over the past couple of years, looks to be on his way to reclaiming his household status in Manchester.

The 25-year-old forward experienced a thoroughly underwhelming 2021/22 season, racking up a mere four goals in 25 Premier League appearances.

However, he has turned his fortunes around this term, netting nine times and chipping in with three assists in 20 competitive matches to regain ten Hag’s trust. 

With Ronaldo no longer in the picture and Anthony Martial struggling with recuring injury problems, Rashford could be Man Utd’s first-choice striker for the remainder of the season. 

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