Manchester United signings
Manchester United have finally completed the signing of Bruno Fernandes, taking their post-Alex Ferguson transfer tally to 31. In the slideshow we’ve ranked the club’s previous 30 additions since summer 2013…
30. Alexis Sanchez
Where to begin? With the astronomical wages and bonuses that allowed Sanchez to ‘earn’ £28m in 15 months at Manchester United? With the way his arrival represented yet another roadblock in the development of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial? How about that United signed him to gazump a Manchester City side operating in a different galaxy to their city rivals?
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently joked that Sanchez could return to Old Trafford following his season-long loan at Inter. Given how disastrous he was the first time around, that looks unlikely.
29. Radamel Falcao
Beware of Gestifute bearing gifts. Falcao cost Manchester United £6m in loan fees and double that in wages. Oddly, they eschewed the option to buy El Tigre for £43.5m, after 26 Premier League appearances – yes, that many – revealed a mere shadow of a player.
Falcao was then even more disappointing on loan at Chelsea in 2015/16, before impressively rebuilding his career at Monaco.
28. Victor Valdes
A three-time Champions League winner, reduced to reserve team action and an acrimonious exit. How the mighty fell.
Valdes was expected to compete with David de Gea for the No.1 jersey at Old Trafford, but he managed just two first-team appearances for United. After being accused of refusing to play a reserve game, Valdes was transfer listed by Louis van Gaal.
27. Memphis Depay
United beat a host of European clubs to Depay’s signature in 2015, spending £25m on the highly-rated Dutch prospect. But the forward failed to make an impression at Old Trafford, scoring just seven goals in all competitions in his only full season at Old Trafford.
Signed by compatriot Louis van Gaal, Depay found himself surplus to requirements once Jose Mourinho took charge. United sold him to Lyon in summer 2016 but retain a buy-back option.
26. Guillermo Varela
David Moyes’s first signing never featured for the Scotsman but did make a handful of appearances under Louis van Gaal in 2015/16, before retreating into obscurity.
The right-back actually remained on United’s books until 2017, when he re-joined first club Penarol in his native Uruguay.
25. Bastian Schweinsteiger
Being publicly humiliated by Jose Mourinho puts Schweinsteiger in good company, although very few have received an apology of sorts, as he did.
However, Schweini was hardly an asset in the year before Mourinho arrived. We’re still not certain that Louis van Gaal meant to sign the midfielder or if it was a misunderstanding, given he arrived on the same day as...
24. Morgan Schneiderlin
Of the eight players in four seasons who left Southampton for either Liverpool or Manchester United, £24m Schneiderlin fared the worst. All right, apart from Rickie Lambert.
An excellent holding midfielder on the south coast, the Frenchman was mostly ineffective at Old Trafford. Few tears were shed when he joined Everton in summer 2017.
23. Marcos Rojo
After five and a half years at United, Rojo completed a loan move to Estudiantes this month, which marks the beginning of the end of his time at Old Trafford.
The Argentinian brought combativeness to United’s backline whether he was deployed at centre-half or left-back, but he didn’t justify a £16m transfer fee and won’t be missed by the club’s supporters.
22. Matteo Darmian
Hopes were high when Darmian arrived at United from Torino in 2015. The Italian had been one of Serie A’s most impressive full-backs the previous season, but he was unable to continue in the same vein in the Premier League.
Darmian spent four years at Old Trafford, but the second half of his stay yielded only 14 Premier League appearances.
Fred has shown signs of improvement this term after a disappointing debut campaign in Manchester. He’s been particularly good in the last few weeks, providing drive and tenacity in the centre of the park.
However, the Brazilian still cost £50m – and regardless of his recent improvement, he’s not worth that much 18 months on from his Old Trafford arrival.
20. Harry Maguire
United were in desperate need of a new centre-back last summer, and there’s no doubt whatsoever that Maguire has improved the team. Strong in the air and adept in possession, the former Leicester man was handed the captaincy by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in January.
Maguire’s low ranking has everything to do with the £80m United paid for his services – a world-record fee for a defender. Perhaps the England international will prove to be value for money à la Virgil van Dijk, but that hasn’t been the case so far.
19. Angel Di Maria
Yes, this high. How easily we forget Di Maria’s brilliance in 2014/15 before winter hit. Remember his delightful scoop in United’s 5-3 defeat to Leicester? That was one of nine goal contributions in his first 10 games.
Then injury struck and Louis van Gaal played him in a different position every week (including at centre-forward, hardly ideal for a man nicknamed ‘Noodle’), while an attempted burglary rocked his home life. Di Maria never recovered, though PSG’s deep pockets did mean United got back most of their British record transfer fee.
18. Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Yet another player who failed to fulfil expectations at United. Mkhitaryan arrived at the club in 2016 having recorded 15 assists in a superb season for Borussia Dortmund that saw him named the Bundesliga Players’ Player of the Year.
Mkhitaryan showed flashes of quality during his 18 months at the club, not least in recording five assists in his first three appearances of 2017/18. All in all, however, the Armenian underwhelmed at Old Trafford.
17. Diogo Dalot
Dalot’s United career has yet to really take off, making it difficult to judge the £19m transfer that brought him to the club in summer 2018.
Dalot impressed in a handful of outings in the second half of last season, but the arrival of Aaron Wan-Bissaka last summer has restricted the Portuguese right-back to just two Premier League appearances so far in 2019/20.
16. Maroune Fellaini
Forever associated with the dismal David Moyes era, Fellaini lasted longer at Old Trafford than almost anyone would have dared to predict back in 2013.
Never the most subtle of midfielders, Fellaini did prove effective on occasion and was well liked by Jose Mourinho. The Belgian left United for Shandong Luneng a year ago but would no doubt have started several games this season had he still been at Old Trafford.
15. Aaron Wan-Bissaka
The early signs are good for Wan-Bissaka, who will surely rise higher up this list one he’s played more than half a season’s worth of games for United.
The rangy right-back is among the Premier League’s best one-versus-one defenders, as he’s demonstrated several times this season. There’s room for improvement as far as his attacking output is concerned, but United knew they weren’t buying the finished product from Crystal Palace.
14. Nemanja Matic
This apparent coup left pundits puzzling over Chelsea’s motives to sell, especially after a decent start. But maybe Chelsea foresaw his impending rapid decline, and with Matic turning 29, didn’t want to look a £40m gift horse in the mouth.
Still, the Serbia international was one of United’s best performers for much of 2016/17, when Jose Mourinho’s side finished second only to Manchester City. And while Matic lacks mobility these days, he’s impressed since returning to the team in recent weeks.
13. Sergio Romero
Romero is mostly reliable, very experienced and happy to be back-up – perhaps more so than any other keeper in world football. Since 2013/14 he has played around three times as many matches for Argentina as he has league games for Sampdoria, Monaco and Manchester United.
There are few better reserve shot-stoppers in England, though, and Romero didn’t cost United a penny when he joined the club in 2015.
12. Eric Bailly
It isn’t easy to place Bailly, who was Jose Mourinho’s first signing and had a very good debut season, aged only 22. Injuries have checked his progress since then, and he’s yet to make a Premier League appearance in 2019/20.
United still rate Bailly highly, as evidenced by their decision to offer him a two-year contract extension last summer. If the Ivory Coast international can stay fit, he still has plenty to offer.
11. Daniel James
James has become a first-team regular quicker than expected following his £15m move from Swansea last summer. The rapid winger got off to a fine start to life at United, scoring three times in his first four Premier League encounters.
Although his form has dipped in recent weeks, the 22-year-old has already proved himself an astute addition to United’s attacking ranks.
10. Juan Mata
Oh, how United expected more. Mata at Chelsea was, let’s not forget, widely considered on a par with David Silva. He never set Old Trafford alight, however – and four managers have tried to light the fuse.
Fortunately, being lovable and scoring a belting brace against Liverpool won Mata enough goodwill for nobody to notice that in 2015/16, the Spaniard – a clever and creative playmaker with an eye for goal – played 26 hours of Premier League football across nearly six months without scoring or assisting a goal, except for a single penalty.
9. Timothy Fosu-Mensah
Whether his future’s at right-back, centre-half, midfield or another club, there’s a player in there somewhere. At the very least, the Netherlands international will produce a tidy profit on an £300,000 outlay.
That seems the most likely outcome now: Fosu-Mensah hasn’t played for United since 2016/17, and wasn’t as regular a starter as he would have liked during loan spells at Crystal Palace and Fulham.
8. Daley Blind
The Ajax product, now back where he began, was reliable enough and gave United leadership they’re sorely lacking at the moment. H
However, Blind was never really suited to the Premier League, where his versatility translated only to being too slow on the ball in midfield and too slow on his feet at left-back, forcing him to become a so-so centre-half.
7. Luke Shaw
Shaw’s had plenty of ups and downs in his United career. Under Louis van Gaal he suffered an injury so horrific that he nearly lost his leg, before coming in for the kind of managerial treatment that normally induces HR to earn their corn under Jose Mourinho.
Shaw has had several bright moments too, though, most notably when he was named Manchester United Players’ Player of the Year in 2018/19.
6. Victor Lindelof
Lindelof endured an unconvincing debut season at United in 2017/18, but was one of their better players last term. The Swede has become much more reliable in the lst 18 months, although he hasn’t completely eradicated the erros from his game.
Lindelof didn’t come cheap at £30.7m, but he’s only 25 and is therefore still some way off his peak. Playing alongside a settled partner in Harry Maguire will only aid his development.
5. Romelu Lukaku
United paid Everton £75m to acquire Lukaku in 2017. His first season at Old Trafford was a success, as the Belgium international scored 27 goals in all competitions and showed signs of improving his all-round game.
Lukaku went backwards last term, though, contributing just 15 goals across various domestic and European action. United were at least able to recoup their initial outlay in selling the striker to Inter last summer.
4. Anthony Martial
Martial made an immediate impact at Old Trafford, scoring an impeccable goal against arch-rivals Liverpool on debut and following that with a match-winning brace away at Southampton.
He’s since produced big moments in big matches, including the semi-final of United’s 2015/16 FA Cup triumph. Martial remains frustratingly inconsistent, though, and he arguably hasn’t made as much progress as he should have in the last four and a half years.
3. Paul Pogba
Many an article has been dedicated to Pogba’s Manchester United career, and few of them are complimentary.
Nonetheless, when he’s hot he is seriously hot, and the numbers back that up: he contributed to 13 goals in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first nine games and, despite Jose Mourinho playing him with the handbrake on, Pogba ended 2018 in double figures for both goals and assists in the Premier League. When he’s motivated, very few are better.
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Well, United did win two trophies in Ibrahimovic’s only full season at the club. And that 2016/17 season seems almost like halcyon days right now. While it can certainly be argued that the mere existence of Ibrahimovic slowed United’s attacks and made them more predictable, there’s little more that the man himself could have done.
An all-competitions tally of 28 goals and 10 assists in a single season, years after his prime, emphatically silenced his critics.
1. Ander Herrera
An underwhelming No.1? No doubt. But Herrera was a rare reliable member of United’s squad between 2015 and 2019, bringing some much needed bite and aggression to the Red Devils’ midfield. United were significantly weakened when he joined PSG last summer.
Even so, Herrera’s place at the top of this list speaks volumes about United’s recruitment in recent years. You may disagree with our No.1 – but who else, really, is there?
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