Who are the players headed towards the exit doors as Man United close in on Pogba?

In team already packed with midfield talent, there may well be a number of players who have to make way

Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata, Michael Carrick

Image: Richard Sellers / EMPICS Sport

If there's one thing that Jose Mourinho likes to be in the transfer market, it's decisive.

Unlike other managers, the new Manchester United boss can't be accused of dithering.

The arrival of Henrikh Mkitaryan, Eric Bailly and Zlatan Ibrahimovic means United now have the makings of a formidable new spine, but they now also appear close to sealing an eye-watering deal for Juventus' Paul Pogba.

This, of course, is a player who left Old Trafford for free but is now in advanced talks to return for £100 million and £300,000 a week in wages - which would buy you an apple or two - if the 20-time English champions can pip Real Madrid to his signature.

On paper, then, the team looks potent and far better than what David Moyes and Jose Mourinho had to work with.

Chris Smalling looks likely to be partnered by the highly-rated Bailly at the heart of the defence, while Luke Shaw leads the left-back queue, given Mourinho shwoed an interest in him at Chelsea. Matteo Darmian would be likely to start on the other flank. 

In midfield, the outstanding box-to-box Pogba could initially be partnered by the experienced Michael Carrick or Bastian Schweinsteiger, or even Morgan Schneiderlin thanks to his defensive nous; Mourinho highly prizes power and experience.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has the flexibility to drop deep, as Ireland saw against Sweden at Euro 2016, but would likely lead the line, flanked by Anthony Martial (or Marcus Rashford) on one side and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the other, despite the Armenian's ability to play anywhere across the attacking midfield area.

That leaves Wayne Rooney. Mourinho once tried to sign the United captain during one of his attempts to get away from Old Trafford, so we know he was an admirer of the England forward - at least the version of two or three years ago.

Further to that, he has already indicated that the experiments with dropping of Rooney into midfield will be something he puts a stop to.

At his press conference this week, Mourinho clearly stated: "It is normal that a player at his age will change a little bit. One thing that will never change is his natural appetite to put the ball in the net. Maybe he is not a striker, not a No 9 anymore. But with me he will never be a No 6, playing 50m from goal. Yes, his passing is amazing but mine is also amazing without pressure. Many players have a great pass, but to put the ball in the net is the most difficult. He will be a No 9, a No 10, a No 9.5 but never a No 6, not even a No 8."

The reshaping of the team thus has a knock-on effect for many United players, and Mourinho has already stated that he likes to keep his squad size relatively tight.  

Juan Mata is one player who has already been ushered out the door by Mourinho previously and his characteristics, though suited to managers like Pep Guardiola, do not fit the Mourinho model.

Daley Blind is another who lacks physical power, even if his game is based on intelligence on positioning. Certainly, he won't play at centre-back, as he did under Louis van Gaal, if Mourinho even decides to keep him.

Marouane Fellaini's stock has plummeted and he is unlikely to be a frontline player from here on in, although if he is willing to be a siege weapon when chasing games late on, he may well be able to hang around. 

Ander Herrera has flattered to deceive at United since Moyes first showed interest in signing him, and then eventually arrived along with Van Gaal in the summer of 2014.

If Herrera is deployed in a role further forward, perhaps as a deputy to Rooney, then he may have a long-term future. But in a midfield role further back the pitch, it would be hard to see him fit into the Mourinho "philosophy" (sorry, we know he hates that word) which has always prized box-to-box players and defensive shields.

Along with Mata and Blind, Herrera's United contract is now entering the final two years, while the same applies to Fellaini and Ashley Young.

Meanwhile, Antonio Valencia, who has increasingly found himself moved back from the wing to right-back, sees his deal expire in the summer of 2017.

Given the size of the proposed deal and contract for Pogba, it would not be a surprise to see a couple of names ushered out before they lose their market value. 

And with squad size up to nearly 30 in numbers - excluding some of the academy graduates - some downsizing will inevitably happen.