Manchester United‘s transfer business has come under intense scrutiny throughout the 2010s – but how has their most expensive signing from every year of the decade fared?
Since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and chief executive David Gill left his role in 2013, Ed Woodward has been heavily criticised for his approach in the transfer market with the Red Devils.
We’ve taken a closer look at the most expensive signing to arrive at Old Trafford in each season since 2010-11.
United’s first campaign of the decade was fairly low-key, yet the club still managed to win the Premier League title and reach the Champions League final.
In a window that also saw the relatively budget arrivals of Javier Hernandez (good), Marnick Vermijl (a kid) and Bebe (lol), Smalling was the most expensive signing at around £12million from Fulham.
The deal was agreed in January 2010, but the centre-back remained at Craven Cottage until the end of the campaign, capping a remarkable rise from Maidstone to Old Trafford within two years.
A solid servant for the club, Smalling has won eight trophies with United – shining under Louis van Gaal in particular – but now finds himself out on loan at Roma, with a change of scenery appearing to help revitalise his career.
The man we deemed United’s best signing of the decade joined as a 21-year-old in a £22million deal from Atletico Madrid under considerable pressure to prove himself capable of dealing with the rigours of English football.
De Gea endured some tough times during a shaky start, and he ends the decade having recently had some displays he will want to forget, but for long stretches he was the only world-class performer at the club.
In 2012-13, United signed Shinji Kagawa, Nick Powell, Alexander Buttner, Angelo Henriquez, Wilfried Zaha and Robin van Persie.
Something (26 goals, the Golden Boot and the Premier League title) tells us Van Persie was worth the extra outlay.
United signing Mata for £37.1million in January of 2013-14 keeps Marouane Fellaini off this list, which feels like some kind of glitch in the David Moyes ‘era’.
But the Spaniard has provided some memorable moments, most notably his overhead kick winner against Liverpool, to go down as a success.
This should have been really, really good.
It really, really wasn’t.
Within the space of less than two weeks, United had gone from spunking a load of money on an unproven teenager from Monaco to having signed the most prodigious talent on the planet after his debut goal against Liverpool.
The Frenchman has struggled to live up to the early hype generated by that goal at times, but he’s been one of the few players to provide a sense of fun at Old Trafford over the second half of the decade.
We think he’s class, whatever the case.
You’ve probably got your own opinion on whether Pogba is a generational talent United desperately need to get the best out of to provide creativity to their workmanlike midfield or a waste of money that doesn’t care and should be sold to Real Madrid.
We really can’t be arsed to argue either way.
Lukaku scored 42 goals for United at a rate of better than one every two games, yet he still felt like a disappointment after seemingly becoming dragged down by the turmoil of Jose Mourinho’s final season at the club.
He has since been sold to Inter Milan at a slight loss, and the striker has rediscovered his verve in Serie A, recently scoring the 200th club goal of his career at the age of just 26.
He’s been much improved recently. But £52million? Nah.
We’re going to sit on the fence on this one for a little while longer. But it’s all been a bit meh so far.