Jose Mourinho needs two more transfer windows, say senior Man Utd figures

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Jose Mourinho needs two more transfer windows, say senior Man Utd figures

Manager Jose Mourinho will need at least two more transfer windows to get close to the squad he wants, say senior Manchester United figures.

Seven months after Mourinho’s arrival as successor to Louis van Gaal, United are sixth in the Premier League, 13 points behind leaders Chelsea and six points adrift of the top four to guarantee Champions League qualification.

Speaking in the build-up to Wednesday’s trip to Crystal Palace (20:00 GMT), Mourinho said he wants to keep his squad together for the rest of the season.

However, sources have told BBC Sport he would like to make changes.

United have spent £480m since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 after 26 years as manager.

They broke their club record in January 2014 by signing midfielder Juan Mata from Chelsea for £37.1m, and spent a British record £59.7m on Real Madrid winger Angel di Maria later that year.

In August this year, they gave Mourinho a world record £89m to sign midfielder Paul Pogba from Juventus.

The BBC understands Mourinho acknowledges it might not be easy to move on high wage earners – but it is thought he views this as a matter for executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to address.

Who is on the way out?

Mourinho has said he is “open to listening to offers” for any player.

Netherlands forward Memphis Depay is one of those most likely to leave.

The 22-year-old joined United from PSV Eindhoven for £31m last year but has started only one game this season, at Northampton in the EFL Cup on 21 September.

The last of seven substitute appearances, totalling 79 minutes, came against Feyenoord in the Europa League on 24 November.

Italian title contenders Roma are among a number of European clubs monitoring Depay. Everton have also been linked with a loan move for the player, but he may prefer a fresh start away from England.

It seems likely German World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger will leave in January.

The midfielder, 32, was exiled from Mourinho’s squad at the start of the season, though he was introduced for the final four minutes of United’s EFL Cup quarter-final win over West Ham on 30 November.

In addition to Depay and Schweinsteiger, the only senior outfield players to have started fewer than five games for United this season are midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin and winger Ashley Young.

Schneiderlin joined United from Southampton for £25m in 2015, signing a four-year contract. The 27-year-old France international was a regular in his debut season, but his three Premier League appearances this term have totalled just 11 minutes.

Young, 31, signed a three-year contract extension in 2015 and was part of United’s defence in the goalless draw at Liverpool on 17 October but has figured only twice since. West Brom are known to be interested in the former England man.

What does Mourinho say?

“I am always open to listen to offers for every player. I am always ready to listen to the players themselves. So any player who knocks on my door and is not happy and wants to move, when the offers are correct, I will never stop a player from leaving, even if it is to a rival. No problem at all.

“I am happy with the squad I have. I would like my squad to be my squad until the end of the season. I am not going to any player to say: ‘You are going to leave because I don’t want you.'”

Mourinho says he expects Schweinsteiger to stay for the rest of the season despite interest from Major League Soccer, and Chicago Fire in particular.

He said: “I do. Unless again the player knocks on our door with a future that he wants to grab with both hands.”

‘Shaw needs to improve’

Mourinho appears to be undecided about full-back Luke Shaw.

The 21-year-old rejected a move to Chelsea in order to join United from Southampton in 2014.

He recovered from a broken leg sustained in September 2015 to start six of United’s first seven games this season, then four out of five from 20 October.

But Matteo Darmian now appears to be Mourinho’s first-choice left-back.

Shaw was substituted at half-time on his last appearance, the EFL Cup win over West Ham on 30 November.

Mourinho says the England international has a groin injury, and has work to do if he is to prove himself at Old Trafford.

He said: “Luke needs to improve. That is normal as he is a kid.

“I am not expecting a young player to be perfect. A young player makes mistakes, has things to learn and things to develop.”

Targets for January and beyond

Mourinho is believed to be keen to bolster his central-defensive options, as Eric Bailly will leave for Africa Cup of Nations duty with the Ivory Coast later this month.

Benfica’s Victor Lindelof is thought to interest United, and recently received an endorsement from United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, his fellow Swede.

A move for the 22-year-old will not be made easier by Benfica reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Mourinho is known to believe his squad lacks a game-changing forward, which only strengthens reports in Spain that United will make a summer move to sign 25-year-old Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Greizmann.