It was hardly the hero’s reception for Marcos Rojo as he announced his return to Manchester earlier in the week.
After a disastrous loan spell with boyhood club Estudiantes the defender is back as a Manchester United player having clocked up more breaches of lockdown than appearances during the seven months he has been away.
“We come back to Manchester,” the Argentine wrote on social media along with a picture of his family and a private jet. “To do what exactly?” queried one reply. The answer to that question should be obvious.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been keen to get rid of any player surplus to requirements in his squad since he took over and it is quite clear to see time is up for Rojo at Old Trafford. A buyer needs to be found.
United’s defensive relapse towards the end of the season at least fuelled a rather limp debate on social media to suggest Rojo could get another crack in the first team, but even the most ardent Rojo fan would find it hard to argue he actually deserves one.
The issues for Rojo are twofold. When fit he represents a good squad player, and his versatility to play both centre-back and left-back certainly means he would have a valid role to play in the United side. However, for a player on such a big salary he simply isn’t reliable enough in terms of fitness.
Rojo earns around £160,000-a-week at Old Trafford after he was rewarded with a three-and-a-half year contract back in March 2018. He has started just 12 times since.
United signed Rojo for £16million on the back of his performances at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and despite initially playing well under Louis van Gaal it wasn’t long before his popular status amongst fans quickly began to diminish with his increased spells on the treatment table.
Solskjaer’s summer recruitment plans will be impacted by how many players United can move on this summer, and although Rojo is out of contract next year he should be next on the list of departures with the club having already worked a minor miracle to shift Alexis Sanchez to Inter Milan.
United have tried to sell the Argentine in four of the last five summer transfer windows, and this year it would be best for all parties involved if Ed Woodward sanctioned a cut-price fire sale. The executive vice-chairman claimed the club’s previous refusal to ‘churn’ players partly led to Rojo’s bumper new contract two years ago, but having learnt from such mistakes they need to get rid at all costs.
A season-long loan would effectively bring Rojo’s Old Trafford career to an end, and if a permanent buyer can’t be found, then it is a resolution which needs to be pushed for.
Solskjaer set a precedent when he axed more effective squad members like Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku last year, and now it is Rojo who must make way for the cultural reset to continue.