Ranking all 18 of LVG’s Man Utd signings from awful to inspired
There was rarely a dull moment at Manchester United with Louis van Gaal in the dugout and we’ve done our best at ranking the 18 signings he made while at the club.
The Dutch manager was at the helm for two seasons, with perhaps his best moment coming in his second year when he delivered the FA Cup.
United finished fourth and fifth in the league during his two campaigns with the club and it’s fair to say that some of his signings worked out better than others and we’ve ranked them all from worst to best.
18. Andy Kellett
We’re still perplexed by this signing. United signed Kellett on loan from Championship outfit Bolton in January 2015. He made 10 appearances for United’s Under-21s but never cracked the first team.
17. Sadiq El Fitouri
Reportedly signed because of a reference from Paul Scholes, United snapped the Libyan defender up from Salford in 2015. No first team appearances would follow and he was soon shipped off to Chesterfield.
A strange move all around.
16. Vanja Milinkovic-Savic
United have long been linked with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, but they actually ended up with his brother with Van Gaal at the helm. After signing for United, the goalkeeper was immediately loaned back to Vojvodina.
The towering Serbian shot-stopper never got close to the first team while in England and signed for Polish club Lechia Gdansk not long after joining United.
15. Regan Poole
The Welsh defender joined from Newport County for a fee of around £100,000 in September 2015. He spent the majority of his time out on loan, but did make a cameo in the Europa League against Midtjylland.
14. Radamel Falcao
Unsurprisingly, United didn’t exercise their buy option on Falcao at the end of the season after the forward scored just four goals while on loan from Monaco.
“At Manchester, it was complicated,” the forward told El Tiempo. “Everyone saw how situations of instability were generated, then somedays I played, others not, 60 minutes here, then 45, and then 20.”
The Colombian forward had another similarly disappointing loan spell with Chelsea the following season before he was then able to rekindle his goalscoring touch with Monaco.
13. Angel Di Maria
The less said about this one the better. At the time it seemed like the perfect move. Around £59million for a world-class playmaker who had just been the man of the match in a Champions League final, why not?
In reality, the Argentine winger looked a shadow of his former self while in Manchester and he was promptly sold to PSG after a year. Still, this filthy chip against Leicester was almost worth the price tag alone.
— Premier League (@premierleague) September 1, 2022
12. Victor Valdes
The Spanish goalkeeper only featured in a couple of matches for United, but his experience behind the scenes was useful enough. He featured for United’s Under-21s while recovering from an injury and gave a motivational speech to the youngsters.
“The lads are in the room listening to this,” explained Under-21 boss Warren Joyce. “It was unbelievable. I was going to do something but Victor said ‘Guardiola used to do this’.
“He’s a very humble guy and a model professional.”
11. Timothy Fosu-Mensah
The versatile Dutch defender was never really nailed down a starting spot at Old Trafford. He was on the bench for United’s Europa League triumph over Ajax, but he remained as an unused substitute.
After five years with the club, he made just 30 appearances. The 25-year-old has had some nasty luck with injuries throughout his career, but is now back on track with Bayer Leverkusen.
10. Memphis Depay
Things just didn’t click for the Netherlands forward in England as the move to Manchester perhaps came too soon in his career. He and Van Gaal didn’t seem to see eye to eye at the time, but at least they get on with one another now.
“Memphis had to deal with it too at Manchester, and now we kiss each other on the mouth,” Van Gaal hilariously told reporters during the World Cup. “That kiss on the mouth.. he [Memphis] doesn’t want it, but this is fine.”
— BeanymanSports (@BeanymanSports) December 8, 2022
9. Bastian Schweinsteiger
The German midfielder did showcase come fleeting moments of quality while in England and he did start out fairly well, winning United’s Player of the Month award for November 2015.
However, Jose Mourinho’s arrival the following year pretty much signalled the end for Schweinsteiger. His bright start at the club is still good enough to warrant a place in the top 10 of this list though.
8. Morgan Schneiderlin
Similar to Schweinsteiger, Schneiderlin started out fairly well at Old Trafford before his season sort of just fizzled out. The French midfielder was an unused substitute in the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace and found himself to be surplus to requirements in his second season.
7. Matteo Darmian
Believe it or not, but Darmian was just eight games shy of making 100 appearances for United. Like plenty of Van Gaal’s signings, Darmian soon fell out of favour with Mourinho.
The Italian defender did well to build his career back up in Serie A once leaving and is now doing well for Inter Milan. Having made 92 appearances for United in total, this wasn’t the worst deal in the world.
6. Marcos Rojo
An absolute mad bastard, we’ve always got time for Rojo. Sure, injuries hampered his time at United, but he was a lovable pantomime villain nonetheless.
Whether he was flying into someone with a two-footed challenge or trying to pull off an audacious piece of skill, there was rarely a dull moment with him around.
Marcos Rojo and totally unnecessary rabonas…
Name a more iconic duo 😂 pic.twitter.com/LyA9broQ92
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 19, 2019
5. Sergio Romero
While Romero only made seven league appearances for United, he was a crucial part of their 2016-17 Europa League winning campaign. Often acting as backup to David De Gea, Romero was a more than worthy number two.
4. Anthony Martial
His iconic debut goal against Liverpool only seems like yesterday. While the French forward might not have lived up to the lofty expectations we had in 2015, he has still been a useful player for United.
Like plenty of others on this list, injuries have hampered Martial over the years. At his best, Martial is worthy of being United’s number nine. He was particularly prolific in 2019–20 when he scored 23 goals.
There’s a feeling of what could have been when it comes to the 27-year-old. However, 86 goals in 290 appearances in total aren’t to be sniffed at.
Anthony Martial vs Liverpool
— Wonderkids (@WonderkidsMedia) July 31, 2022
3. Daley Blind
The versatile Dutch defender was a hit at Old Trafford. His calm and composed demeanour was just what United needed at the time. Starring in United’s FA Cup and Europa League triumphs, Blind was a fine player for the Red Devils.
At the end of his fourth season with the club, he called it quits to reunite with his former side Ajax. Having made 141 appearances and scoring six goals, he was well worth the £13.8million United paid for him.
2. Ander Herrera
Perhaps one of the most underrated Premier League midfielders during his stint in England, Herrera was brilliant for United. He even won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award for his contributions in the 2016/17 season.
Also, who could forget his brilliant man-marking job on Eden Hazard in 2017?
Ander Herrera: "In 2017, Eden Hazard was the best player in the league. I told Mourinho, 'José, I'm ready if you need me to man mark him and to follow him everywhere he goes, if he wants to go to the bathroom during the game, I will go too'. We won 2-0."pic.twitter.com/syXx9n2GXT
— IM🇵🇹 (@Iconic_Mourinho) January 8, 2023
1. Luke Shaw
Undoubtedly, the best signing made under Van Gaal was Shaw. The England international is still a regular in the first team to this day and he is now regarded as one of the best full-backs in the league.
Of course, he’s had a few rocky moments with the club, but he has always managed to come out on top. The winner of United’s 2018-19 Player of the Year award, Shaw is worthy of top spot on this list.