Manchester United

5 Man Utd players become free agents after contracts expire

Jamie Spencer
Juan Mata, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard are among those no longer Manchester United players
Juan Mata, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard are among those no longer Manchester United players / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages | Nathan Stirk/GettyImages | Jan Kruger/GettyImages

Manchester United have said goodbye to 10 players whose contracts expired at 11:59pm on 30 June.

Five of those individuals are now officially free agents without a club, with three already signing deals to join new clubs and two others retiring altogether.

Paul Pogba was the biggest name among them, departing for nothing six years after United made the Frenchman the most expensive player in history at the time for £89m.

Pogba is now set to return to former club Juventus on a free transfer, ironically for the second time in his career, having previously made the same move as a teenager way back in 2012 when United refused to meet his contract demands.

Jesse Lingard is also no longer a United player. He first joined the academy at the age of seven and went on to play 232 first-team games in total following his 2014 debut.

Lingard peaked in 2017/18 with 13 goals in all competitions and famously scored the extra-time winner in the 2016 FA Cup final at Wembley. But he fell out of favour after 2020 and enjoyed a successful loan at West Ham - who he may yet end up at.

United fans may be slightly more upset about the departure of Juan Mata, who remained a popular figure throughout his eight and a half years at Old Trafford, despite playing less and less often in more recent seasons.

Mata was formerly United's record signing at £37.1m and scored 10 goals in all competitions in each of his first three full seasons at the club.

Edinson Cavani leaves United after only two years. The veteran striker was briefly something of a cult hero thanks to his goals and performances during the 2020/21 season - particularly in the second half of the campaign - but fans grew frustrated over his patchy fitness.

Cavani agreed a one-year extension last summer, but by his own ambition would have left then had he known he would subsequently be competing for a place in the team with Cristiano Ronaldo.

Nemanja Matic confirmed his own United exit on social media in May. It was thought that the Serbian was still under contract for another year, but it was later reported that the club may have mis-quoted the length of the deal when it was originally announced.

Matic has already reunited with Jose Mourinho at Roma, the third different club they have worked together at after United and Chelsea.

Back-up goalkeeper Lee Grant has left the club and called time on his playing career. The 39-year-old, who had primarily been a first choice Championship goalkeeper until a top flight spell at Stoke, arrived at Old Trafford in 2018 as a seldom seen third choice.

Grant made two appearances for United in four years, although his most important contribution was arguably on the training pitch. He even learned Spanish to build a stronger relationship with David de Gea and Sergio Romero.

Listen now to 90min's Manchester United podcast, The Promised Land, with Scott Saunders & Rob Blanchette. On this week's show they discuss he latest regarding Frenkie de Jong's proposed move to Manchester United, Erik Ten Hag's start to pre-season & Christian Eriksen.

Another player who has retired from professional football Paul McShane. The veteran defender started his career at Old Trafford and was an FA Youth Cup winner in 2003, before oddly returning last summer with the intention of filling an overage player-coach role with the Under-23 squad.

McShane isn't leaving United altogether, however. He has immediately joined the coaching staff in the Professional Development Phase - between Under-18 and Under-23 levels.

The United journey has ended for D'Mani Mellor, who made just one first-team appearance for the club, coming in the famous Europa League game against Astana in November 2019 when then manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer left most of the first-team at home.

As well as the eight already mentioned, two more players who didn't make first-team appearances have also left the club as free agents - Reece Devine and Connor Stanley. The pair have already signed deals with Swindon and Bolton respectively.

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