Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Michael Carrick have decisions to make on their careers next summer — the only players whose future Jose Mourinho does not believe Manchester United have under “control” beyond this season.
Last week Arsenal sold Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Premier League rivals Liverpool, cashing in on the England international with his contract due to expire in the summer along with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
The latter duo have remained amid uncertainty regarding their future and Mourinho is sure there will be no such issues at Old Trafford any time soon.
Juan Mata, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Ashley Young, Luke Shaw and Sam Johnstone have just a season remaining on their United deals, but the Portuguese points to the one-year extension clauses included within them.
The biggest question marks regard the future of injured striker Ibrahimovic and captain Carrick, with the veterans’ contracts due to expire next summer.
“Of course it makes a difference (to have a one-year option),” Mourinho said.
“When the club has a one-year option, it means that the players have one more year of contract so nobody is in the last year.
“The two players are in this situation are Zlatan and Carrick — two players that at the end of the season who are going to sit and to analyse what they did and what they want to do.
“But just Carrick and Zlatan, all the other players are under the club control until end of the ’18/19 season, so we are speaking about June ’19. No player ends his contract.”
Mourinho appears to have forgotten that Marouane Fellaini is another whose contract expires next summer, with United having invoked the extension clause in his deal in January.
The towering midfielder has had an impact off the bench in all three of United’s Premier League matches to date — games that have brought three wins, 10 goals and a hat-trick of clean sheets.
With such results under his belt, there is little wonder Mourinho believes there is a positive feeling around his “strong, united” squad, which he hopes to lead on to their first genuine title tilt since Alex Ferguson retired.
“We try to play the best we can,” the former Chelsea boss said ahead of today’s trip to Stoke.
“We know that if you look in a pragmatic way and you see the last winners of the Premier League, the last winners of the Premier League they didn’t play attacking football.
“They all played defensive football and counter-attack football.
“So that is according to the results the best way to win the Premier League.
“We try to play according to the qualities of our players. We try to play positive, we try to play good, but we try to win.
“And if tomorrow we go to Stoke and Stoke in some moments of the match they put us under pressure and they are dominant, we have to be humble and we have to be pragmatic and we have to face that reality.
“If you ask me, do we go there and are going play with seven at the back, like some teams do, five plus two? No, we are not going to do that. We are going to try and play well and score goals.
“But if our opponent is better than us and dominant, we are humble enough to transform our way of playing to play for a result.”
Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross, who recently penned a new four-year deal, has been ruled out of the game with a back problem.
“It’s unfortunate because he’s started the season really well and signing the contract was important for him and us,” Stoke boss Mark Hughes said.
“Unfortunately Ryan has pulled up in training and is likely to miss certainly the weekend, hopefully it won’t be any longer.”
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