Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag to wait before deciding future of out-of-contract players

David de Gea and Cristiano Ronaldo are among those Manchester United players in the final year of their contracts

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Erik ten Hag says Manchester United will wait before making any decisions with players who are nearing the end of their contracts at the club, despite uncertainty over the future of senior figures like David de Gea and Cristiano Ronaldo.

As many as nine members of United’s first team squad could leave for free when their existing deals expire at the end of the season, although the club retains options to extend their terms by another year.

United typically trigger such extensions but, even then, are left with a choice to either make a new offer to the players in question, sell at a cut-price with only 12 months remaining on their deal, or allow them to go for nothing in a year’s time.

Marcus Rashford has entered the final year of his terms – as have Luke Shaw, Fred, Diogo Dalot, Tom Heaton, Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones – while Ronaldo and De Gea are United’s two highest-earning players.

De Gea reached the milestone of 500 appearances for United on Sunday, celebrating with a clean sheet in a goalless draw with Newcastle, and has started every game this season despite initial reservations over whether he is suited to Erik ten Hag’s style of play.

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Ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League meeting with Tottenham Hotspur, Ten Hag insisted that he is happy with De Gea as his goalkeeper but stopped short of guaranteeing that he will remain at the club beyond the end of the season.

“We didn’t make a decision on him but what I can say is that I am really happy with David de Gea as a ‘keeper,” Ten Hag said.

“His first two performances of the season were not his best performances but after you see he brings us a lot for the defence department, gives stability and as a person I like him, I can really co operate with him really well.

“But first we go to the winter and then we will talk about how to deal with the situations.”

When asked generally about other players in their final year, Ten Hag said: “In this moment we only think about performing.

“We have a lot of games to go so I don’t want to get that interfered by talks, we have to focus on football and performances, not on negotiating. That’s what we have to do now.”

In the past, United have handed out new contracts to players nearing the end of their deals, only for them to play bit-part roles and become frustrated at a lack of playing time.

Ten Hag gave the clearest indication yet that he is eager to avoid the mistakes of the past in that regard, suggesting that he wants to “restore” United by building a squad of motivated players who are driven to succeed.

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“Some players get motivated when you play for a contract, but it is not why we handle it like this,” he said. “We just want to restore Man United, we want to develop the squad, develop the team and bring everything to a better level.

“We work on a way of play and also on the culture and we need quality players who are highly motivated. Such players we are looking for and luckily we have them in the squad so I am happy with the squad and the motivation they all have. The cooperation is quite good.”

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