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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Tom Blow

What happened to the five Man Utd players branded flops after Barcelona defeat

Manchester United vs Barcelona... it's one of European football's great fixtures.

Many fans will never forget when United defeated Johan Cruyff's side to win the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1991 - with Mark Hughes scoring a brace in the final - or when Paul Scholes' strike sent Sir Alex Ferguson's men through to the 2008 Champions League final.

Yet Barcelona fans will also have fond memories - particularly their triumphs against the Red Devils in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals under Pep Guardiola. Culers will also remember knocking them out of Europe's premier competition four years ago.

Inspired by Lionel Messi, Barcelona hammered United 4-0 on aggregate to set up a Champions League semi-final against Liverpool. French newspaper L'Equipe were not impressed by what they saw and gave five United flops a 0/10 rating.

But what are those players up to now? Mirror Football takes a look...

Phil Jones

Phil Jones' career has been plagued by injuries (PA)

What are your thoughts on Manchester United's progress under Erik ten Hag? Let us know in the comments below!

Jones was described as "terrible" after United's 3-0 defeat at the Camp Nou but is still on the books at Old Trafford. The England international, now 31, has played just 13 competitive games during the last three-and-a-half years due to injuries.

Jones has not played since Erik ten Hag was appointed by United last summer. He has not even completed a training session under the Dutchman due to injury. The defender is expected to leave Old Trafford when his contract expires in the summer.

Yet Ten Hag has admitted the player might have a future at the club. He told reporters in January: "No, it's not been taken until now. The decision about that is for the summer, but for the whole season, he's injured. I can't say [if Jones will play again this season].

"What I can say is that he's not available for training since the first day of training this season, so I think there's not an opportunity for you to recover quickly and be available quickly."

Hopefully, Jones can overcome his injury problems and play professional football again, even if he leaves United. Watch this space...

David de Gea

David de Gea made a blunder against Barcelona four years ago (Getty Images)

De Gea was singled out for making a blunder during that infamous defeat, but he is still United's first-choice goalkeeper. The four-time United Player of the Year, now 32, has played more than 500 games for the club and will go down as an Old Trafford icon.

De Gea's contract expires in June and it is unclear whether he will sign a new deal. United can automatically extend his contract by a further 12 months but are yet to exercise that option. A number of clubs would be interested in the Spain international.


Fred is still part of Erik ten Hag's squad (Getty Images)

The Brazilian midfielder was criticised for his display at the Camp Nou but remains part of United's squad. Fred, now 29, is a decisive figure among critics - with many supporters believing he is not good enough to be part of Ten Hag's midfield.

Fred has just under a year and a half left on his existing deal and it is unclear whether he will sign an extension. He started United's Europa League clash against Barcelona on Thursday night in the absence of Christian Eriksen, who is nursing an ankle injury.

Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial has struggled with injuries this season (Matt West/REX/Shutterstock)

Martial struggled to make an impact against Barcelona in 2019 but, like those aforementioned, is still on the books at Old Trafford. The France international, now 27, has scored 85 goals in 283 appearances for the Red Devils. He is currently nursing an injury.

Martial's contract expires in June 2024, although United can automatically extend his deal by a further 12 months. He spent the second half of last season on loan at Sevilla and could be deemed surplus to requirements if Ten Hag brings in a new striker in the summer.

Ashley Young

Ashley Young has returned to Aston Villa (Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images))

Former United skipper Young was tasked with marking Messi during the 2019 clash and failed miserably (although, in fairness, he is not the first to struggle against the Argentine). The England international, now 37, left United for Inter Milan in January 2020.

The move worked out perfectly for Young, as he helped Inter win the Serie A title during the 2020-21 campaign. He returned to England in June 2021 - re-joining former club Aston Villa - and continues to play regularly in the Premier League.

Young was even named in Gareth Southgate's provisional 55-man England squad for the World Cup in Qatar. Speaking to The Sun, the Villa star said: "To get in this 55 for Qatar shows you I must have been doing something right."

Young, who won five trophies during his time at Old Trafford, added: "I will retire from international football when I retire from football. I can still play at the highest level. I always say to players, just never give up on your dream - I never gave up."

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