Juan Mata is back on the market after leaving Vissel Kobe.

7 former Man Utd players we can’t believe are currently free agents: Mata, De Gea, Lingard…

Manchester United have a litany of former players at other clubs, but there are more than a few surprising names that are surprisingly unattached despite having not yet retired.

Of course, players like Ashley Young and Eric Bailly are still active but we wanted to dig a little deeper and find those whose current unemployment has raised an eyebrow or two.

We’ve picked out seven former United players that we can’t believe are currently without a club.

Juan Mata

Mata joined Vissel Kobe in the J-League and recently won his second league title in as little as six months with the Japanese side.

But the former Spain international only featured once all season, playing just ten minutes in the entirety of the campaign. After just half a season in Asia, Mata has decided to call it quits.

‘It has been an incredibly interesting experience that ended in the best possible way, making history, winning the league for the first time for our club,” Mata said on Instagram.

“I’m really happy to have been part of your family at such an important moment that will be remembered forever! I wish you all the very best for the future!”

The 35-year-old also confirmed he wishes to continue playing, making him a potentially excellent signing for somebody.


David de Gea

After an increasingly costly string of errors last season, De Gea’s contract wasn’t renewed by United last summer. While the handling of it was graceless considering his 12-year service to the club, few supporters mourned the goalkeeper’s departure.

What’s more surprising is that the Spaniard has been unable to find another club over the following six months. Despite having long peaked, De Gea remains a capable goalkeeper and kept 18 Premier League clean sheets last season.

There are rumours that Newcastle are interested in signing him on a short-term deal following an injury to Nick Pope. At least it would stop De Gea from rattling United supporters by tweeting about the weather…

Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Picture date: Tuesday January 3, 2023.

READ: David de Gea has somehow rattled Man Utd fans from beyond the footballing grave

Jesse Lingard

Lingard feels increasingly like a meme rather than a footballer, memorable for his dancing and six-month transformation into the Moss Side Messi at West Ham than his current abilities.

After an unsuccessful year at Nottingham Forest, the midfielder trained with the Hammers before ditching them at the sniff of a lucrative contract at Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq.

Alas, a move to Saudi Arabia never materialised and Lingard finds himself without a club. The 30-year-old is currently posting pictures of his gym work in Dubai and getting bodied by Paul Scholes in the process…

Phil Jones

Another footballer turned meme, Jones left United last summer after 12 injury-hit years at Old Trafford.

The former England defender has been putting in work on his coaching badges and has been present at United’s Carrington training ground on several occasions this season.

“Great to begin the global football sports directorship course with the PFA business school, learning new things about the game, whilst also continuing to push ahead with my A license and badges at the club that gave me so much,” he wrote on Twitter. “Excited to get started.”

While Jones hasn’t retired, it’s heartening to learn that he’s looking ahead to his post-playing days rather than simply sitting and waiting for an offer to materialise.

Marouane Fellaini

It feels like decades ago since he was the lightning rod for United’s underperformance in the mid-2010s.

But the former Belgium international has spent the majority of the last five years out in China, banging in the goals for Shandong Taishan despite the league’s well-documented boom and bust cycle.

Fellaini left Taishan at the end of the 2023 season and wrote an emotional farewell to the club’s supporters.

”I am also so glad and honoured to have discovered China and its amazing culture,” Fellaini began.

“Many times I have told my family and friends that my China years (of course excluding the Covid-period which was difficult for everybody) were among the best of my life. I am very grateful for that.”

It remains to be seen whether a European club will pick him up or whether Fellaini and his iconic afro face retirement from our game.

Marouane Fellaini celebrates scoring for Manchester United against Arsenal at Old Trafford, Manchester, April 2018.

READ: 9 of Marouane Fellaini’s most crucial goals for Manchester United

Javier Hernandez

A cult hero during the latter days of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign, Hernandez has been left on the footballing scrap heap following his release by LA Galaxy.

The Mexico international, who had one of the Premier League’s best goals-per-minute ratios during his five years at Old Trafford, hasn’t played since an ACL injury five months ago and is currently without a club.

“We are grateful to Javier for his dedication and contributions to the LA Galaxy,” former head coach Gregg Vanney said.

“Javier was a passionate leader for our club on and off the field. We wish him all the best moving forward.”

Josh Harrop

United’s 100th different goalscorer in the Premier League, Harrop scored on his only appearance for the club – a 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace on the final day of the 2016-17 campaign.

He rejected a new contract offer shortly afterwards and joined Preston North End for an undisclosed compensation fee.

Harrop played almost a hundred matches for the Championship club, but his development was hampered by a serious ACL injury in 2018.

After his release by Preston last year, the midfielder spent a short stint with Northampton, but he’s a free agent once again – with no current takers.

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