News From Manchester: Manchester United departures can free up dream shirt numbers for summer signings

A decade on from his first switch, Paul Pogba will depart on a free transfer during the summer window and he will not be alone there. Jesse Lingard is also coming towards the end of his contract, while veteran duo Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani are already confirmed to be leaving.

Spanish playmaker Juan Mata hinted that he could be about to follow suit with a gesture made to the United fans who made the trip to Crystal Palace on the final day of the season and Erik ten Hag might yet sanction several sales to generate funds for his much-needed, impending recruitment drive.

Eric Bailly has slipped down the pecking order despite putting pen to paper on a new agreement last year and United want to sign a centre-back this summer. Among other items on the agenda for Ten Hag are at least one recruit for central midfield and a versatile option in attacking quarters.

Kalvin Phillips and Frenkie de Jong are targets while United have been linked with Benfica hot-shot Darwin Nunez and Ajax's Jurrien Timber is admired by Ten Hag. Should they touch down at Old Trafford they might have an easy decision to make with regards to what number is printed on their famous red shirt.

Cavani will vacate the number 21 strip – which De Jong has preferred during his career at Ajax, Barcelona and while representing the Netherlands – as Phillips could opt for one of three choices should Pogba (6), Mata (8) and Lingard (14) move on as expected. Phillips wears 23 for Leeds, but has previously donned 8 and 14 for England.

Timber favours the number 2 shirt for Ajax, meanwhile, though he did previously wear the number 3 strip currently assigned to Bailly when he was progressing through the famed Amsterdam system. As for Nunez, he might wait for a decision to be made with Anthony Martial (9) upon his return from loan club Sevilla.

Other numbers up for grabs at this stage are; 12, 24, 32 and 35. Matic will vacate the number 31 jersey.

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