10 players who did nothing at Man Utd but shone after leaving

Quick Reads

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has worked hard to offload a lot of unwanted players at Manchester United over the summer, but will he regret letting any of them go?

Inter Milan have brought in Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez and will be encouraged by the many players over time that have proven there’s still life after United.

We’ve taken a look at 10 players that failed to impress at Old Trafford but went on to enjoy great careers elsewhere.

Radamel Falcao

The Colombian looked like one of the deadliest strikers in European from his prolific time at Porto, Atletico Madrid and early days at Monaco, but by the time he arrived at Van Gaal’s United on loan in September 2014 he looked done as a top-level player after the severe ACL injury that kept him sidelined for over six months.

He scored four Premier League goals in 26 appearances for the Red Devils, and the sensation he’d lost it was further confirmed at a subsequent dodgy loan spell with Chelsea.

But it’s been a remarkable comeback since then. He’s scored 70 goals over the last three seasons for Monaco and was a key part of the side that upset the odds to beat PSG to the 2016-17 Ligue 1 title, reaching the Champions League semi-final and knocking Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City out of the competition on the way.

Michael Keane

The academy product was allowed to leave for Burnley in 2014, having made a total of five appearances for United.

Now at Everton, he’s a regular in Gareth Southgate’s England squad, while Chris Smalling and Phil Jones aren’t. 

Danny Drinkwater

He never made any senior appearances for Manchester United before he left for the Foxes in 2012.

While he might not have done anything in the last 18 months, he’s a title winner with Leicester. What more can you say?

Angel Di Maria

When the Argentinian scored the audacious chip over Kasper Schmeichel in the first few weeks of his Manchester United career, it looked like the club had finally bought the superstar they needed to wake them from their post-Ferguson slumber.

This was a player that was recently named man of the match in a Champions League final victory for Real Madrid, and he looked every bit the part. But not for very long.

Di Maria’s one season at United was fairly forgettable in the end, and he never really settled in Manchester.

He’s now into his fifth year at PSG, where he’s refound his form – he’s scored twice as many goals (72) for the French club as he ever did for Madrid, and taken fewer appearances to get there.

Wilfried Zaha

Since emerging as one of the most exciting young talents in the country at Crystal Palace, Sir Alex Ferguson sanctioned a deal for the winger in one of his final pieces of business for the club.

It didn’t quite go to plan when he officially joined the club in the summer of 2013, when David Moyes succeeded Ferguson. He never quite took to Manchester, and only made a total of four appearances for the club.

He was sold back to Palace for a fraction of what they bought him for two years later, and he’s since established himself as one of the best wide attackers in the Premier League, reportedly attracting interest from PSG and Arsenal.

Gerard Pique

The proud Catalan was a teenager and peripheral figure in United’s squad as they won the Premier League and Champions League in the 2007-08 season.

Since Pep Guardiola brought him back to his boyhood club in 2008, he’s not exactly had a bad career. A World Cup and European Championships won with his country, he’s also won the Champions League three times, La Liga eight times and the Copa Del Rey six times at Barcelona, which includes two trebles.

Tim Howard

Howard was a regular between the sticks for United in the 2003-04 season, during that awkward few years between Fabian Barthez and Edwin van der Sar.

The American was by no means a disaster with the Red Devils, winning the FA Cup that year, but it was Everton where he really established himself as a more than decent Premier League shot-stopper. He spent nine years with the Toffees and made over 400 appearances.

Dion Dublin

When we say Dublin shone after leaving United, we don’t mean his effortlessly natural presenting ability on Homes Under The Hammer or success with The Dube, but rather going on to score more than 100 Premier League goals for Coventry City and Aston Villa.

A brilliant recovery after the horrific leg break he suffered during the two years he spent at Manchester United.

READ: Dion Dublin: Wayne Rooney said I was the best centre-back he’d faced

Diego Forlan

Forlan, who has only recently retired at the age of 40, had an absolutely exceptional career after leaving Old Trafford, where he only scored 10 Premier League goals from 63 appearances. 

A legend for Villarreal and Atletico Madrid, he went on to score 128 La Liga goals in seven seasons, winning the European Golden Shoe twice.

His record isn’t bad for his country, either. He won the Copa America with Uruguay in 2011 and was named the best player of the 2010 World Cup as he finished joint top scorer on their run to the semi-finals.

Tom Heaton

Frequently loaned out, Heaton spent eight years on United’s books between 2002 and 2010 but never made a senior competitive appearance for the club.

He’s since earned seven England caps and become a solid Premier League goalkeeper at Burnley, now at Aston Villa.


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