Marouane Fellaini of Shandong Taishan celebrates his goal during the 2023 season Chinese Football Association Super League (CSL) 11th round match between Shangdong Taishan FC and Dalian Professional FC in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province, June 3, 2023.

7 former Man Utd players we can’t believe are still playing in 2023

Plenty of players – the great and not-so-great – have turned out for Manchester United down the years – but you’ll be surprised at some of those still active in 2023.

Of course, players like Ashley Young and Nani are still active but we wanted to dig a little deeper and find those whose continuing careers would raise an eyebrow or two.

And more former United players are still active than you might have thought. We’ve picked out seven who you probably didn’t realise were still playing in 2023.

Marouane Fellaini

Yes, Fellaini is still knocking about in China at the age of 35 and we’re amazed he hasn’t hung up his boots. It feels like decades ago since he was the lightning rod for United’s underperformance.

Marouane Fellaini celebrates scoring for Manchester United against Arsenal at Old Trafford, Manchester, April 2018.

READ: 9 of Marouane Fellaini’s most crucial goals for Manchester United

Federico Macheda

Synonymous with that goal against Aston Villa in 2009, Macheda is still only 31 and has enjoyed a steady, if unspectacular career.

Talking to Sportbible about the Villa goal in 2020, Macheda said: “It was a crazy day because it was so unexpected. It was probably the best debut you could ever imagine. If you try to build the perfect debut, I don’t think you would be able to build it like mine was.

“It was a great pass and I thought it was the only thing I could do. And then it went how it went. I slipped a bit but when I raised my head I knew I hit the ball quite well. The shot was perfect.”

Anyway, he recently moved to Turkish top-flight club Ankaragucu after four years at Panathinaikos.


Bebe was plucked from the Portuguese third division on the recommendation of Carlos Queiroz having initially been spotted playing in the Homeless World Cup. He’s now known as one of the most bizarre signings of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

He showed early promise at Old Trafford, and even scored, but was never quite good enough for United.

That all feels like another age entirely, but Bebe is still going, having forged a very solid career since being released by United in 2014, playing in Portugal, Turkey and Spain.

He’s currently turning out for La Liga hipster favourites Rayo Vallecano alongside fellow former United man Radamel Falcao. They recently lost 7-0 at home at Atletico Madrid.

Shinji Kagawa

Kagawa arrived at Old Trafford in 2012 with a glowing reputation after his Bundesliga exploits with Borussia Dortmund – but it never really happened for him in England, despite flashes of his immense talent.

“I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was working with such a legend. Now I have a much better understanding of who he is,” Kagawa later recalled of his time in Manchester in an interview with De Morgan.

To be honest, I enjoyed my first year at Manchester United. We won the title, although it was mostly due to Robin van Persie’s endeavours.”

After a return to Dortmund and nomadic spells at Besiktas, Real Zaragoza, PAOK and Sint-Truidense, Kagawa is back with boyhood club Cerezo Osaka at the age of 33.

He’s still scoring some absolute sh*tpingers too…

Yodoko Sakura Stadium, Osaka, Japan. 18th Feb, 2023. Shinji Kagawa (Cerezo), FEBRUARY 18, 2023 - Football/Soccer : 2023 J1 League match between Cerezo Osaka 2-2 Albirex Niigata at Yodoko Sakura Stadium, Osaka, Japan.

READ: Remember Shinji Kagawa? He’s back, scoring absolute blooters against PSG

Alexander Buttner

United identified Buttner as Patrice Evra’s long-term replacement and signed the left-back from Vitesse Arnhem for £4million in 2012.

But, despite scoring on his debut, the Netherlands youth international failed to make the grade at Old Trafford and made just 13 Premier League appearances in two years.

“My adventure with Manchester United was not a failure,” Buttner told Algemeen Dagblad in 2017.

“Who can say that they have won the Premier League title? I can say that. Even Steven Gerrard hasn’t managed it. I played more games for United than I ever dreamed of.”

He now plays left-back for second-tier club De Graafschap in his native Netherlands.


Rafael is now back in his native Brazil with boyhood club Botafogo and made eight appearances last season following his recovery from an Achilles injury.

For us, though, he’ll always be the embodiment of the late-Fergie era at United.

Gabriel Obertan

Another underwhelming United signing, Obertan was quick at running in a (very) straight line but didn’t have enough going for him to follow in the footsteps of David Beckham or Ryan Giggs.

He was moved on to Newcastle, where he made just 58 league appearances over five seasons, and has since embarked on an interesting journey that’s taken him to Dagestan, Hungary, Turkey and, err, Wigan.

Now 34, he’s currently at American third-tier outfit Charlotte Independence, where he plays alongside former Newcastle team-mate Sylvain Marveaux.

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