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Which Of These 6 United Players Deserve A New Contract?

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Manchester United chief executive David Gill has confirmed that the club will open discussions with 37-year-old Ryan Giggs about a new contract. It is a reward for Giggs’ consistent performances this season, which will see him celebrate an incredible 20th anniversary of his debut for the club in March. Gill said:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he extends his contract for another season. That will be addressed in the next month or so. He has been playing well, keeps himself in great shape and is a wonderful advert for the modern footballer.”

As has been the case recently, Giggs has taken his career season by season, allowing himself to decide if he feels he has the capabilities to continue for another year at the highest level. Having already made 18 appearances this season, clearly the club feel that the evergreen Welshman can prolong his legendary career beyond the 6 months left on his current deal.

Giggs is one of several older United players whose United contracts are up in the summer. Do any of them deserve an extension?

Edwin van der Sar

The 40-year-old Dutchman is still firmly in place as the club’s number 1 despite his age, and that is testament to his professionalism and quality. But manager Sir Alex Ferguson has began making preparations for his retirement with the January signing of Danish stopper Anders Lindegaard, who along with Tomasz Kuszczak will be hoping to take over from van der Sar. The plans for Lindegaard are still unclear. Is he going to be van der Sar’s replacement? Or is Kuszczak leaving for him to become number 2 to a big money signing?

Like Giggs, van der Sar takes the approach of judging his future on his season’s work, and aside from a big error against West Brom at Old Trafford, his form has been consistent. Usually you know when an older keeper’s time is up when mistakes start to become regular and doubts enter the mind. Just ask David Seaman. But van der Sar seems no different to the day he signed back in 2005. I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs for an extra year.

Verdict: One more year

Paul Scholes

The United legend is still an important player for United with his ability to pull the strings in midfield probably still unmatched by the vast majority in European football. His less energetic style of play nowadays has without question helped him continue for so many years. With natural talent like Scholes has, he will always be useful to have on the playing staff even if he isn’t starting every week.

As with van der Sar, there have been no clear signs of regression in Scholes’ form. There is a reason his nickname within the club is ‘Sat Nav’ – he has always had the ability to get the ball from A to B seamlessly. The form of Anderson has led Sir Alex to earmark the Brazilian as Scholes’ eventual successor, but he might have to wait another season before the ginger maestro hangs up his boots.

Verdict: One more year

Gary Neville

The last of the three remaining from the famous Class of ’92, Neville’s appearances have been far more sporadic than Giggs and Scholes this season, making just 4 outings. And his form in those appearances has been widely scrutinised by the media after luckily avoiding a sending off in away games at Stoke and West Brom. Having always been underrated by non-United fans thanks to his fierce loyalty to the club, they will have enjoyed seeing Neville struggle.

The emergence of Rafael da Silva as the most exciting young talent in the club has meant Neville has taken a backseat to first team action. The situation seems to all be fitting in perfectly for a retirement, with a spot on the coaching team opening up following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s exit to manage in Norway coinciding with a loss of form and a replacement already settling in to his first team place. Neville should retire at the end of the season, but he should also be remembered as undoubtedly the finest English right-back of his generation.

Verdict: Retirement

Michael Owen

Michael Owen has found it tough going in his Manchester United career. While he couldn’t (and shouldn’t) have expected to play every week after signing for the club, he has made limited appearances in his time so far. This season that has been mainly down to injury, as he recovered from his hamstring tear suffered in the Carling Cup final. But Javier Hernandez has made a flying start as a Manchester United player and would now seem to firmly be in third place in the forward pecking order, relegating Owen to fourth.

But would he remain in fourth if he were to continue next season or be pushed back further? The brilliant form of Danny Welbeck on loan at Sunderland has excited many United fans and when he returns he should be fighting for a first team place. Then there is Kiko Macheda on loan at Sampdoria, who Ferguson has very high hopes for. Then there is Mame Diouf on loan at Blackburn who is steadily improving. Is there a place for Michael Owen? It wouldn’t be surprising to see him leave, but it might just depend on how well the loanees do in the second half of this season. Let’s not forget, despite all of his injuries, Owen is still just 31 years old and would have plenty to offer to most teams in the Premier League.

Verdict: Released

Owen Hargreaves

There was a sense of real hope in the stands as Owen Hargreaves made his first start for over two years against Wolves at Old Trafford in November. Of course, it was a disaster, with the midfielder hobbling off after just 5 minutes. The word was that it was nothing serious and would only keep him out for a few weeks. Over two months later and there seems to have been no progress. The last update from Ferguson was that he was seeing specialists in Germany to figure out the problem.

While of course it is tragically upsetting for Hargreaves, Ferguson must feel huge frustration over how his signing has played out. Surely even if Hargreaves managed to play a game, he would have to be playing on at least a semi-regular basis for Ferguson to truly believe he is worth another contract, and that doesn’t seem likely at all with just four months of the season left. As sad as the situation is, it might just be time for Hargreaves to admit defeat.

Verdict: Retirement

What do you think of these verdicts? Do any of these players deserve another contract? Let us know by leaving your comments below.

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