Did Manchester United sell Becks at the perfect time?

6 players Man Utd cashed in on at the perfect time: Rashford next?

There’s an art to knowing when to sell your prized assets. It’s nuanced. There’s no way of knowing if you’ve done the right thing until the world sees how it all pans out.

Sometimes, inevitably, clubs get it wrong. Chelsea selling off Kevin de Bruyne and Mohamed Salah for (roughly) a combined £30million is pretty funny with hindsight.

On the other side of that coin, Newcastle getting £35million out of Liverpool for Andy Carroll would’ve put a warm glow in Mike Ashley’s belly as he counted his pennies on Christmas Day.

We’re going to focus on Manchester United’s savviest sales with six players the Red Devils sold at just the right time; including Golden Balls himself…

David Beckham

Becks was famously a product of Carrington, having been plucked from London as a teenager. That means that, if he was sold, any fee commanded is pure profit for the club.

Beckham had probably peaked in terms of his playing ability, there was reported dressing room unrest at Man United, and rumours of falling out between him and Alex Ferguson. It was the height of the paparazzi era in the UK, and Beckham’s celebrity could not have been any bigger.

So, in 2003, when Real Madrid hijacked Barcelona’s move for the England captain and coughed up roughly £26million for him, Man United said, go on then, and cashed in on the biggest asset.

They used the cash to sign a new number seven — not sure what happened to him, actually.

Manchester United's David Beckham celebrates scoring against Zalaegerszeg at Old Trafford, Manchester, August 2022.

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every club David Beckham scored against for Man Utd?

Daniel James

You have to feel sorry for Wales’ premier pace merchant Dan James. He was literally doing post-signing interviews as a new Leeds player when his last-minute move from Swansea fell through. Not sure we’d ever have bounced back from that.

He did eventually leave the following year, signing for the Red Devils for around £15million. Unfortunately, it didn’t all go as planned in Manchester, and aside from his genuinely quite frightening speed, James didn’t show a lot else.

United chased in when Leeds came back for their one that got away and, if you believe the reports, made a tidy little £10million profit.

READ NEXT: 8 players that Liverpool cashed in on at the perfect time: Salah next?

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every male post-war player to play for Manchester United & Manchester City?

Andrew Cole

You might know him as Andy Cole but he prefers Andrew and the author of this article can relate to that particular irritation, so Andrew is what we’re going with. And, speaking of names, you all need to start putting some respect on this man’s name.

Cole was totally unplayable during his team at Newcastle United. King Kevin Keegan said don’t worry about anything else — just score me some goals, son. He put Peter Beardsley next to him to supply the ammo and BOOM! 

In his first top flight season, the man scored 41 goals in 45 games in all comps. Those are Messi numbers. United waited one more season before dragging him away from Tyneside.

He formed a lethal partnership with Dwight Yorke in Manchester, won the treble, played for six-and-a-half seasons under Alex Ferguson, and they still somehow made a profit on him when he moved to Blackburn Rovers.

Alan Smith

Famous for reaching a Champions League Semifinal with Leeds in 2001, but perhaps even more famous for breaking his leg as a result of getting in the way of a John Arne Riise free-kick, Smith was a strange footballer.

He made a Joelintonian transition well before the Brazilian did it, morphing from a striker into a central midfielder when he emerged from his leg cast cocoon.

He was never quite the same player following his injury, yet Man United still managed to sell him to the Magpies for just £1million less than what they’d bought him for three years earlier.

TRY A QUIZ: Test your knowledge with the internet’s hardest Man Utd quizzes

Chris Smalling

United paid Fulham around £7million for young Chris Smalling. They got ten solid seasons out of the Englishman, then sent him on loan to Roma for around £3million.

When the Giallorossi decided they wanted to keep him, Man United said that’s fine but it’ll cost you an extra 20million. Smalling was 30 years old at the time and unlikely to see a further rise in his value.

Having said that, he was Player of the Match when Roma won the Europa Conference League Final in 2022. Hmm…

Danny Welbeck

Welbeck was a decent striker for Man United without ever being truly prolific. When United sold Welbs to the Arsenal in 2014, it was a little bit of a shock as he was still only 23 and had the potential to be something special.

However, his career stayed on a fairly steady path, and the £16million Arsenal paid Man United for the Englishman was the first and only transfer fee he ever commanded.

He’s now made more league appearances for Brighton than for any other club he’s played for.