Manchester United weren’t as active in the transfer market as some fans might have hoped this summer, with some blaming recruitment for the slow start made by Erik ten Hag’s side in 2023-24 so far.
But the club did bring in the likes of Rasmus Hojlund, Mason Mount, Andre Onana, Jonny Evans and loanees Sofyan Amrabat and Sergio Reguilon – while they’ve further reshaped the squad in Ten Hag’s image by moving on a number of long-serving big names.
Should United have any regrets about the players they let leave in the summer? We’ve checked in on the 11 players that left the club and how they’re faring in 2023-24 so far.
Manchester United pocketed a reported £15million on selling the Swedish academy graduate to Nottingham Forest.
Alongside ex-Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, Elanga has gone in and bolstered Steve Cooper’s attack following the departure of their homegrown talisman Brennan Johnson.
There are big shoes to fill, but Elanga has made a bright enough start for Forest. He scored a match-winner against Chelsea and caught the eye with a spellbinding solo run to set up Taiwo Awoniyi against Arsenal back in August.
✅ Taiwo's first goal of the season
✅ Anthony's first assist as a Red pic.twitter.com/dudCGhMst6
— Nottingham Forest (@NFFC) August 13, 2023
“Saying goodbye to United is an emotional moment for me,” wrote Henderson on social media after securing a £15million transfer to Crystal Palace on deadline day.
“This club has been a part of my life since I was a kid.
“From growing up as a United fan, to joining the academy aged 14, to stepping out on the pitch at Old Trafford! The journey has been a dream come true and I feel very blessed and fortunate to have fulfilled that dream.”
Henderson impressed out on loan at Sheffield United and briefly challenged David de Gea for the No.1 shirt back in 2020-21, but it increasingly became clear he’d need to move if he wanted to play regularly.
Fellow Carrington old boy and England hopeful Sam Johnstone has retained Roy Hodgson’s trust between the sticks.
Henderson is yet to start a Premier League match this season, and his fledgeling Crystal Palace career so far amounts to 19 League Cup minutes against his former club – when he was substituted early on after suffering an injury.
The latest reports suggest that the goalkeeper is due a scan on a muscular injury and could yet be out of action until 2024.
The McFred era at Old Trafford ended in the summer, with Fred moving to Fenerbahce and McTominay reportedly close to an exit before eventually staying put.
United have looked as though they might have benefitted from a player with Fred’s industriousness amid their struggles in 2023-24 so far.
The player himself appears to be embracing a new challenge in the Turkish Super Lig and is appearing on the European stage after helping Fenerbahce navigate the Conference League play-offs.
Fred has made an instant impact for a side that have made a stupendous start to the 2023-24 campaign. They’ve won all eight of their Turkish Super Lig outings, scoring 20 and conceding three, and have also been victorious in each of their European excursions.
The midfielder scored a Van Basten-esque worldie on his debut, but unfortunately after his ecstatic celebrations it was ruled out for offside. Poor Fred.
Fred scores a volley goal on his debut for Fenerbahcepic.twitter.com/QcTBzSulY8
— Total Football (@TotalFootbol) August 21, 2023
The Czech goalkeeper joined United’s youth set-up as a highly-rated prospect back in 2018, but he never progressed to first-team contention amid a series of loans away.
Last season he caught the eye with a starring role in Sparta Prague’s title-winning campaign – the first time they won the league in nine years. He was named the Czech First League’s Goalkeeper of the Season, prompting suggestions that he might return to Old Trafford to play back-up to Onana.
But the club opted to sign Turkish ‘keeper Altay Bayinder and sold Kovar to Bayer Leverkusen for a reported £7.7million fee.
Xabi Alonso’s men are flying high in the Bundesliga, but he’s been designated as their Europa League goalkeeper – where he’s done alright to concede one goal across two appearances to date.
“The time is right to go and take on a new challenge,” the Iraqi prospect said after signing for Eredivisie club FC Utrecht in the summer.
“It is one that I cannot wait for and I’ll be applying myself with the same level of desire, determination and dedication that has taken me this far in my career.”
Iqbal was always talked up as a prodigiously talented youngster with a big future, but he never quite broke through beyond the fringes of the first team.
The 20-year-old is still awaiting regular opportunities with Utrecht, having made just one seven-minute substitute appearance so far in 2023-24. It will be worth keeping an eye on how his development goes in the coming season.
The Brazilian could never usurp Luke Shaw at left-back and was evidently deemed surplus to requirements after the addition of Tyrell Malacia.
After a so-so loan to Sevilla last season, Telles was sold to Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr, where he’s linked up with former United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo – as well as the likes of Sadio Mane and Marcelo Brozovic.
Telles played all 120 minutes for his new club as they beat Al-Hilal in the Arab Champions Cup final back in August, a 2-1 win in which Ronaldo scored a brace.
He’s been a regular starter for Al Nassr, who currently sit third in the Saudi Pro League, four points off league leaders Al-Hilal.
The endlessly entertaining centre-back’s days at Old Trafford were numbered, having fallen down the pecking order after the additions of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez.
Marseille turned down the chance to sign Bailly permanently after last season’s loan, and his contract was terminated in August after United failed to find a buyer.
He’s since joined Besiktas on a one-year contract, linking up with fellow Premier League alumni Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Daniel Amartey and Cenk Tosun.
But he’s only played a role on the periphery so far for Besiktas, who already find themselves eight points behind Super Lig leaders Fenerbahce.
Another academy player that made a very small handful of appearances in cup competitions between loans away, Mengi was sold to newly-promoted Luton Town for an undisclosed fee in the summer.
The 21-year-old defender made his Premier League debut in the Hatters’ only victory over the season so far, 2-1 away at Everton.
“Since I joined, it’s been instilled in me that we’re a team. There’s no individuals here and that showed,” he told the BBC in his post-match interview.
“I’m proud of the boys and we got it over the line. We all know what’s required of us to get the result we wanted.”
Mengi has since featured in back-to-back defeats against Burnley and Tottenham. Expect him to have his work cut out this season.
“It’s been very difficult, the last couple of years. There’s no denying that. There is no hiding away from that,” Jones told MUTV in a heartfelt goodbye interview after his contract expired at the end of last season.
“My family have been absolutely instrumental in keeping me on the straight and narrow and keeping me focused, to try to get fit and try to play more.
“And, you know, I’ve missed playing football. I missed it. You grow up playing football and all you want to do is play football. It’s all I’ve known, from such a young age, is to do what you love doing for a living. I’ve been fortunate enough to do that, albeit not as much as I would have liked.”
Given that Jones made just six Premier League appearances in his last four seasons at Old Trafford, it’s not exactly a shock that he hasn’t found a new club.
Jones is yet to officially announce his retirement from the game. Given he once said that only his mum and dad would turn up to his testimonial, you imagine he wouldn’t want to make a song and dance about it with a big official announcement.
In fact, it already appears as though Jones has made the decision to move onto the post-playing phase of his career in football. He’s currently back at Carrington undergoing his coaching badges.
Phil Jones on Instagram: "Start of a new journey. Great to begin the global football sport directorship course with the PFA business school, learning new things about the game, whilst also continuing to push ahead with my A licence and badges at the club that gave me so much.… pic.twitter.com/MBHeudktuV
— utdreport (@utdreport) September 26, 2023
The academy graduate made 37 appearances for his boyhood club, and intermittently looked as though he might develop into a quality centre-back – particularly after his key role in Aston Villa’s promotion back in 2018-19.
Unfortunately, Tuanzebe has struggled with injuries since then and failed to kick on in a series of underwhelming loans back at Villa, Napoli and Stoke. He was released in the summer and has since joined Ipswich Town, where he’s linked up with former Red Devils assistant coach Kieran McKenna.
The 25-year-old signed a contract at Portman Road until the end of the 2023-24 campaign, but he’s yet to make his debut for the Tractor Boys.
David de Gea
Yes, De Gea had his weaknesses. Yes – despite Andre Onana’s questionable start – it made sense for United to move on. Yet we’re still scratching our heads at how De Gea is still searching for a club at the age of 32.
The Spaniard remains a world-class shot-stopper on his day, even if he might not be the right fit for a side that wants to play out from the back.
We’re surprised and impressed in equal measure that De Gea hasn’t taken the Saudi megabucks. You’d imagine there was interest there.
Watch this space. Your guess is as good as ours as to where he ends up next.