Five of Man Utd’s most panicky panic buys: Fellaini, Ighalo, Falcao…
While Manchester United made plenty of shrewd buys under Sir Alex Ferguson, things have gone slightly awry in the transfer market since the legendary manager retired in 2013.
United have had a frenzied approach to transfers in recent years and completed a few deals that didn’t seem too well thought out at the time.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has tried to change their transfer strategy, but here are a few of their biggest panic buys.
United were linked with Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara and Gareth Bale during David Moyes’ first summer as United boss but failed to land their top targets.
It looked like they weren’t going to sign anybody until Moyes hit the panic button on deadline day and brought Fellaini to Old Trafford.
United could have signed the midfielder for £23.5million earlier in the summer but allowed his release clause to expire and had to pay an extra £4million.
“Signing Marouane Fellaini so close to the deadline that August, the club’s only major deal in a summer when we needed two or three big names, suggested that things were not running smoothly,” Ryan Giggs wrote in the Daily Telegraph in 2016.
“United had signed players late in the window before – Dimitar Berbatov in 2008 springs to mind – but this time was different. This time it was more of a panic.”
Fellaini was never universally popular at United, somewhat embodying their struggles, but the midfielder still won three trophies with the club.
"I never wanted Fellaini to be my first signing at #MUFC"
David Moyes reveals he also looked at Nemanja Matic when he took over in 2013… pic.twitter.com/ZUKMbQLSoo
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) October 13, 2017
It may seem strange to call Chelsea’s back-to-back Player of the Year a panic buy, but that’s exactly what Mata was in January 2014.
United made a disastrous start to the season under Moyes and signed the attacking midfielder to try and lift the gloom around the club.
However, the Red Devils already had Wayne Rooney as a No.10, and Mata was a luxury signing rather than a solution to their most pressing problems.
That doesn’t mean he wasn’t a successful signing though, and the Spaniard has provided some memorable moments over the last six years.
United had finished seventh in the Premier League in 2013-14, and they tried to fix the problem by throwing money at it.
After spending £150million on five players in the summer of 2014, United waited until the last minute on deadline day to sign Falcao on a season-long loan deal.
The Colombian was regarded as one of the best strikers in the world and received a reported £346,000 a week but was still recovering from a serious knee injury.
Falcao continued to struggle with fitness issues at United and wasn’t able to justify those huge wages, scoring four goals in 29 appearances in all competitions.
After Marcus Rashford picked up a back injury that ruled him out for a few months, United were desperate to sign a new striker in the January transfer window.
They were linked with every centre-forward on the planet and late on towards the end of the window executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward reportedly told Bournemouth that they had 15 minutes to accept their final offer for Joshua King.
However, the Cherries refused to budge and United eventually turned to former Watford striker Odion Ighalo with a last-gasp deadline day loan move.
The striker had spent the last three years playing in China and his move to Old Trafford took everyone by surprise – including Ighalo himself.
“I never thought this was going to happen, but dreams do come true, so I’m very happy to be here and this is going to be a big and good challenge for me in my career,” he told MUTV.
Despite the eyebrows that were raised at such a signing, Igahlo has acquitted himself well at Old Trafford, scoring five times in 19 appearances, earning a six-month extension to his loan deal.
Manchester City were 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League in January 2018 and appeared set to add Alexis Sanchez to their already world-class squad.
But United intervened and flexed their financial muscles, giving the forward a £400,000 a week contract to persuade him to snub their rivals.
“I saw him as a bit selfish, someone who played for himself sometimes. I didn’t think he was a player that we needed, especially for that type of money,” Paul Scholes told ESPN in 2018.
“How would we be able to get rid of him now when he earns those wages? The signing felt like it happened just to stop Man City signing him.”
The deal backfired completely as Sanchez scored five goals in 45 appearances before spending the 2019-20 season on loan at Inter, who he has now joined permanently.