Solskjaer decision offers clear response to Bailly and De Gea warnings

Harry Maguire’s injury issues meant Ole Gunnar Solskjaer went into the Europa League final against Villarreal with two major question marks over his team selection.

Had the Manchester United skipper been passed fit, the back-four likely picked itself with the captain alongside Victor Lindelof in the middle.

However, with Maguire only fit enough to start from the bench, Solskjaer was handed the task of picking the best possible partner for Lindelof.

And while many anticipated Eric Bailly would get the nod, with Axel Tuanzebe starting the final two domestic games of the season, there was a genuine doubt.

Red Devils legend Gary Neville actually predicted Tuanzebe would start, despite being much the junior of his defensive colleague.

Eric Bailly suggested he could leave Man Utd if minutes remained limited
Eric Bailly suggested he could leave Man Utd if minutes remained limited

Bailly, who recently signed a new contract at the club, warned United that if opportunities remained difficult to come by, starting in Gdansk, he could look at possibly leaving Old Trafford.

He told The Times: “Competition is always good to improve. I just say that I want to stay in case I get the chance to play. I don’t want to be a starter one game and a substitute for another five.

“If that happens I will have to look for another solution. The new contract is fine but if I don’t play I will be open to listen to other proposals.”

Solskjaer has clearly listened to that ultimatum, with the Ivorian handed the start in United’s biggest game of the season.

Similarly to Bailly, there was a feeling amongst many that had David de Gea been snubbed in favour of Dean Henderson in between the sticks, the Spaniard would seriously consider his future.

No longer the undisputed No.1, De Gea’s former teammate Rio Ferdinand had predicted that if the situation continued into the summer, he may look to move on.

David de Gea was preferred to Dean Henderson for the final in Gdansk
David de Gea was preferred to Dean Henderson for the final in Gdansk

Who should be Manchester United’s No 1 next season? Comment below

“You’ve got two options: you fight for your position or you say, ‘that’s me, I’m off to somewhere where I’m seen as a number one’,” Ferdinand said last month.

“If Dean Henderson finishes this season as the number one then David de Gea will be doing all he can to get out of this football club, I’m sure.

“He loves it at Man United, he lives and breathes this football club, he has done since he’s been here.

“But I don’t see him staying here and saying, ‘right, Dean Henderson has the shirt, I’m going to sit and wait’. No chance, I don’t see it, he’s going to want to go.”

ESPN had also reported that Solskjaer was aware that whichever keeper was left out of the lineup in Poland, would likely request a summer exit.

And with De Gea handed the start against the Spaniards, it raises immediate questions about Henderson’s future.

Solskjaer has admitted that the unusual goalkeeper situation at the club must be resolved before the start of next term – and the Europa League starting XI begs the question whether De Gea remains his long term answer.

Man Utd XI vs Villarreal: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Lindelof, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba; Greenwood, Fernandes, Rashford; Cavani.


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