Jose open to selling fringe midfielders

LONDON • Jose Mourinho will not stand in the way of Morgan Schneiderlin and Memphis Depay if they want to leave Manchester United for Everton next month.

The United manager wants to clear space in his squad for new signings by selling at least a couple of fringe players in the January transfer window, The Times of London understands.

Louis van Gaal, Mourinho's predecessor, paid a combined total of more than £50 million (S$90.3 million) for midfielders Schneiderlin and Depay last summer, but neither has started a league game under Mourinho.

This season, Schneiderlin has played only 86 minutes of domestic first-team football- 73 of them in a League Cup tie against Northampton Town.

Depay has had only 134 minutes of action in all competitions, with his one start, also against the third-tier side, ending after 55 minutes.

Their lack of playing time has alerted Everton manager Ronald Koeman, who worked with Schneiderlin during his two-year spell as Southampton manager.

When asked on Tuesday if he would be willing to let the duo leave, Mourinho said: "I am always open to listen to offers for every player. I am always ready to listen to the players themselves."

It is understood that Koeman has made 27-year-old Schneiderlin his priority because he does not rate James McCarthy, while fellow midfielder Gareth Barry will be 36 in February.

Koeman hopes to sign the France midfielder on a permanent basis and will then aim to tie up a loan deal for Depay, who expects to leave next month.

It is understood that the Dutch winger prefers a move to Italy or Germany, with Roma monitoring his situation, but is willing to hear what Everton have to offer.

Everton are desperate for a replacement for long-term injury victim Yannick Bolasie, but could be deterred by Depay's wages - more than £120,000 a week.

Still, their proximity to United in the Premier League table would not put Mourinho off shipping the duo to Merseyside.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2016, with the headline 'Jose open to selling fringe midfielders'. Print Edition | Subscribe