A team of Man Utd ‘rejects’ that would beat the current one

Manchester United
Wilfried Zaha is set to feature in Man United's Capital One Cup tie against Norwich with Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney rested.

How hard is it to put together a better starting XI of players rejected, sold or allowed to leave for free by Manchester United than the current side?

The answer is pretty easy when you consider that three ex-United players are currently in Ligue 1’s team of the season, Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku are earning rave reviews in Italy, and a couple of others are impressing at Premier League clubs above the Red Devils right now.

GK – Ben Foster

Foster and David de Gea have kept the same number of clean sheets this season and although Watford have conceded a league-worst 23 goals this term, he isn’t the reason they remain winless after 11 games. To suggest he could do better than the Spaniard would be stretching the truth but he’s been a reliable Premier League keeper for many years after United dispensed with him.

RB – Fabio

The twin brother of the more popular Rafael da Silva started the 2011 Champions League final for United. Up against Pedro at Wembley, things didn’t go well and he found himself on loan at QPR just a year later. But he’s currently the top right-back in Ligue 1, according to whoscored.com, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka isn’t among the best in the Premier League right now.

CB – Chris Smalling

Roma are so happy with Smalling that they want to sign him permanently for something like £13million, a fraction of the cost of Harry Maguire, whose performances for United so far look little different to those Smalling put in before he arrived. Time will tell on that one.

CB – Jonny Evans

Flogged off by Louis van Gaal in 2015, Evans is currently marshalling the Premier League’s joint-most miserly defence at Leicester City. To say he is outperforming Victor Lindelof right now would be a serious understatement.

LB – Daley Blind

Jose Mourinho never really rated Blind and got rid of him back to his former club Ajax in 2018 after which he led them to the Dutch double and Champions League semi-finals in his first season back. Mourinho felt Ashley Young offered more.

MF – Ander Herrera

Herrera was United’s most consistent midfield performer for a couple of years and always seemed to turn up for the big games, but United let him go on a free when they failed to remotely match what Paris Saint-Germain were offering. Nevermind, there’s always Fred.

MF – Angel Di Maria

Currently the fourth-highest rated player in Ligue 1, according to whoscored.com, the Argentinian wanted out of Old Trafford after less than a year. He felt isolated and vulnerable after a break-in at his house, but how hard did United try to keep him? Paul Pogba has scored 24 and created 25 in just over three years as his replacement. Di Maria has 33 goals and 29 assists for PSG in Ligue 1 over the same period.

MF – Marouane Fellaini

Don’t think many United fans lost any sleep when Fellaini was finally sold and they probably never will. Scott McTominay is doing just fine thanks in his absence so this is a no-contest.

RW – Memphis Depay

An understandable decision to let the Dutchman go at the time, so insipid were his displays, but what a career turnaround for him in France, where he is currently only behind Kylian Mbappe and Islam Slimani in whoscored.com’s Ligue 1 ratings. Daniel James has made a better start to his Reds career than Depay did although who would be the better option right now?

LW – Wilfried Zaha

Possibly the biggest transfer mistake of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, selling Zaha has proven to be a whopper. The Ivory Coast winger is among the most feared wideman in Europe and has consistently contributed more for Crystal Palace than Anthony Martial over the period the Frenchman has been at Old Trafford.

CF – Romelu Lukaku

Like Fellaini, no one really mourned Lukaku’s passing to Inter but the Belgian has hit the ground running in Serie A with plenty of goals and United still lack depth in attack. A debate that will rage on.

Score prediction – 4-2 to the ‘Rejects’ with Lukaku (2), Di Maria and Fellaini on the scoresheet and Young sent off for fouls on Zaha.