Martial shines, Varane’s place at risk

PERTH, Australia – Manchester United players and staff landed back at Manchester Airport on Sunday after a nearly three-week absence in Thailand and Australia to begin final preparations for the start of the Premier League season.

Erik ten Hag has two weeks to make final decisions before picking his team, who play Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford on August 7th, already done in Bangkok, Melbourne and Perth.

The Dutchman has ruled more than 30 players while new signings Lisandro Martinez and Christian Eriksen are set to join the group this week. The tour has been positive for some members of the squad, but others will return to Manchester with doubts about their role ahead of the new campaign.

Here’s a look at the winners and losers of the journey and what Ten Hag’s new team could look like.

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Martial began this summer with uncertainty about his own future but after three weeks in Thailand and Australia the Frenchman has made strong arguments to face Brighton in two weeks time. He benefited from the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and started all four games as a central striker in Ten Hag’s system, scoring three goals against Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace. The coaching staff were also impressed with the way he takes in information such as when to press and the direction of his runs. Martial has made such an impression that Ten Hag has now ruled out letting him go before the deadline, regardless of what happens to Ronaldo.

After a difficult first season at Old Trafford, Sancho used the Tour to cement his place as Ten Hag’s first choice. Playing on the right side of the front three, he scored three goals including an athletic volley in the last game against Aston Villa. More importantly, his growing understanding of Martial and Marcus Rashford was evident in a flowing team goal against Palace that sliced ​​the defense to pieces with incisive passes and clever moves. Ten Hag still have time to decide who should start their opener against Brighton but barring a late injury, Sancho is all but guaranteed with the team.

Dalot has been at Old Trafford since 2018 but after the last tour game against Villa he said it’s only now that he feels like a United player. It’s not difficult to understand why. A year after arriving from Porto, he saw the club spend £50million on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and ended up spending time on loan at AC Milan. He has not yet had a long career with the team, but that seems to be changing this season. Ten Hag have signed Tyrell Malacia at left-back but at right-back it was a straight fight between Dalot and Wan-Bissaka and there has only been one winner so far. The 23-year-old still needs to work on his defense but he impressed on the tour up front. A left-footed cross to set up Martial against Palace was the highlight.


Varane insisted during the trip that he has no regrets about his decision to leave Real Madrid 12 months ago, but when he flies back to Manchester from Perth on Saturday night he will realize he faces a battle to join Ten Hag’s team to be included. The United boss has spent almost £50m on Martinez and told ESPN during the tour that he supports Harry Maguire as a regular starter, leaving little doubt Varane will start the season on the bench. It didn’t help that the France international was struggling with injuries – which was also the case last season – to miss valuable minutes. Varane has won the Champions League and World Cup four times and will be leaning towards ousting Maguire at some point, but he faces a difficult task, at least for now.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka

There have long been question marks over whether Wan-Bissaka is good enough to play for United and judging by the tour, Ten Hag has already made up his mind. The 24-year-old played just 92 minutes in the four games and when Ten Hag made ten substitutions against Melbourne Victory he stayed on the bench and youngster Ethan Laird got the nod instead. Wan-Bissaka is better than Dalot defensively, but Ten Hag wants his team to be proactive and aggressive, and in that sense, Dalot is a far better choice. Wan-Bissaka hired a specialist coach to help him with his passing and crosses over the summer, but he still doesn’t offer enough opportunities to justify a place in the team.

With two weeks to go before the new season starts, Alex Telles will surely know that his time at the club is almost up. He has previously competed with Luke Shaw at left-back and this summer the Brazilian saw Malacia arrive from Feyenoord. Shaw and Malacia shared duties at left-back throughout the tour, while Telles stepped in at center-back and midfield. In the end, he seemed to literally invent the numbers. Telles has two years left on his contract plus an option for one more season, so he has every right to stay where he is for now, but there’s not much of a chance he’ll play next season – or even be second pick behind Shaw . Martial shines, Varane’s place at risk

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