Manchester United's Raphael Varane during the Premier League match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, London, October 2022.

The last 7 World Cup winners Man Utd signed – & how they fared

Alexis Mac Allister has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United this summer – but he wouldn’t be the first World Cup winner to make the switch to Old Trafford.

Fabrizio Romano has reported that Mac Allister will leave Brighton this summer, with both Liverpool and United sniffing around the midfielder. It’s been a sensational season for the 24-year-old, with Brighton defying gravity in the Premier League. He also helped Argentina lift the World Cup last December.

But how did other winners of football’s greatest prize fare after moving to Old Trafford? We’ve identified the seven players that did exactly that.

Raphael Varane

Great for France, great for United when fit… Varane has been a classy presence at the heart of defence for both club and country throughout his career.

Erik ten Hag will be hoping he stays injury-free for long enough for the Red Devils to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title next season.

Bastian Schweinsteiger

One of the best players at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Schweinsteiger was the beating heart of Germany’s midfield as they swept all before them to lift the trophy at the Maracana.

Many will remember his impressive performance against Argentina in the final, with blood dripping from his noggin, which made the version that rocked up at Old Trafford in 2015 all the more mystifying.

Plagued by injuries, he was a peripheral figure under Louis van Gaal’s tenure before getting turfed out by Jose Mourinho midway through the 2016-17 season. The fans didn’t hate him though…

Victor Valdes

Valdes was firmly third choice for Spain’s 2010 winners – behind Iker Casillas and Pepe Reina – and made a similarly faint impression at Old Trafford.

The Barcelona legend made just two league appearances for United before falling out with Van Gaal and spending the final season of his glittering career getting relegated with Middlesbrough. 

Juan Mata

Mata only played twenty minutes in the entire tournament in 2010, replacing Fernando Torres against Honduras in the group stage, but that’s because Spain had one of the most stacked squads in World Cup history.

The attacking midfielder became a cult hero after joining from Chelsea in 2014 and is generally known as one of football’s nice guys.

READ: An ode to Juan Mata at Man Utd, a magical square peg in a round hole


With just 20 appearances and two goals for United, Kleberson was one of the biggest flops in the club’s history.

His performances for Brazil’s 2002 World Cup winners – forcing his way into the starting XI from the quarters onwards – was enough to attract attention from Europe’s biggest clubs.

But Kleberson refused to leave his home nation until he could marry his 16-year-old girlfriend. It was barely worth the wait.

Laurent Blanc

Blanc enjoyed an eventful World Cup in 1998.

The France centre-back scored the first Golden Goal in World Cup history to beat Paraguay in the last 16, before being dismissed in the semis for twatting Slaven Bilic (who definitely, definitely did not make a meal of Blanc’s slight contact).

Despite missing the final, Blanc earnt his winner’s medal that summer but was decidedly over-the-hill when signed as Jaap Stam’s replacement in 2001.

He did win the Premier League title before retiring in 2003. So it wasn’t all bad.

Laurent Blanc sent off

READ: The Shithouse Files: Slaven Bilic v France, when he broke Blanc’s heart

Fabien Barthez

After usurping Bernard Lama after Euro 96, Barthez only conceded two goals when France won their own World Cup. He also won the Yashin Award as goalkeeper of the tournament.

The eccentric keeper moved to Old Trafford two years later, just after winning the European Championship, and won the Premier League in his first season at United.

While initially a success, Barthez made a number of high-profile gaffes during the 2001-02 campaign and never fully restored his world-class reputation.

The Frenchman left United in early 2004 after being usurped by both Roy Carroll and Tim Howard, rejoining Marseille and reaching another World Cup final in the summer of 2006.

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