With Antonio Valencia having now officially left the club, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have to decide who will be United’s club captain for next season.
Speaking about the situation back in April, the Norwegian said that he had a couple of names in mind, while also mentioning four potential candidates for the role:
“We’ll see who’s here for next season and I’ve got a couple of players in my head that could be captain. We’ve had Antonio, he’s going, we’ve had Ashley, we’ve had Paul, we’ve had David, Chris has been captain, so there are players here who can be captain on the pitch.”
“We just need to decide who’s the club captain. Who’s going to be the voice in and around [the place].”
You can’t completely rule out a new signing getting the captaincy, but it’s highly unlikely, so which of the four players would be most deserving of the honour?
David De Gea
Currently, it would be hard to justify giving the Spaniard the armband. The goalkeeper has just one year left on his contract at Old Trafford and is said to be stalling on signing a new deal.
He would be a heavy favourite, though, if he does agree to a contract extension. At 28 years of age, he could captain the side for many years to come and as one of the senior players who is universally respected in the dressing room, his words would be listened to.
The centre-back was not always a first team regular last season, and while he has spent nine years at United, he doesn’t have the quality to lead by example.
It seems Harry Maguire is once again back on the club’s agenda, and if the England international were to be signed, Smalling’s game time would be reduced severely. For that reason, he can’t be a contender to be captain.
Like De Gea, his future at the club is still in doubt. The Frenchman has hinted that he wants a new challenge, but Solskjaer is believed to be keen to build the team around the playmaker.
If he were to stay with the Red Devils and was 100% behind the cause, the midfielder would have a better case for being a leader. The captaincy could inspire him to new heights of consistency and be the making of him at Old Trafford.
However, Solskajer would not be wise to hand Pogba the armband if the Norwegian has even the slightest doubt about his commitment to the club.
At 33 years of age, and having spent eight years at United, the fullback is the likeliest candidate to take over from Valencia as club captain. He may not be given much game time following Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s appointment but he is one of the leaders in the dressing room.
Young would be a short-term solution and you would hope that Solskjaer’s philosophy of investing in young talent would also translate to him installing a younger, more exciting player to a leadership role.
Victor Lindelof would come to mind but is the Swedish international ready for that level of responsibility? My feeling is the United manager will stick with someone like Young but we shall see.