Ranking every striker signed by Man Utd since Ruud van Nistelrooy left
Ruud van Nistelrooy is regarded as one of the best strikers to ever play for Manchester United – so replacing him was always going to be difficult.
The Dutchman joined Real Madrid in 2006 after scoring 150 goals in 219 appearances for the Red Devils and they struggled to fill that void.
Here are the 14 out-and-out strikers United have signed since Van Nistelrooy’s departure, ranked by how well they fared at Old Trafford.
14. Angelo Henriquez
There was a lot of hype when United signed Henriquez from Universidad de Chile in 2012, and the striker was tipped for a bright future.
But he failed to make the grade in England and was sold to Dinamo Zagreb in 2015 without playing a single minute for United’s first team.
Fans were bemused when United announced the signing of an unknown striker from the Angolan league following a successful trial in 2007.
Manucho managed just three first-team appearances for United before it became clear that he didn’t possess the necessary quality to challenge Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez or Louis Saha for the starting spot.
After a loan spell at Hull City, he completed a permanent move to Real Valladolid in 2009.
12. Mame Biram Diouf
Eighteen months after signing Manucho, United took a gamble on another unknown striker.
Sir Alex Ferguson hoped that he had unearthed the next Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when he bought Diouf from Molde in 2009, but it didn’t quite work out like that.
Despite scoring on his home debut, the forward only made another eight first-team appearances and was sold to Hannover 96 in 2012.
11. Odion Ighalo
United’s frantic search for a striker in the January transfer window saw them sign Ighalo on a six-month loan deal from Shanghai Shenhua.
The 30-year-old was originally banned from United’s training ground due to concerns over the coronavirus but has since been able to make three substitute appearances. Add a goal or two and he could rise another place on this.
An Old Trafford debut for lifelong Red, @IghaloJude 🔴
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 23, 2020
10. Radamel Falcao
Falcao was regarded as one of the best strikers in the world before his loan move to United, but he failed to match that billing with his performances in England.
The Colombian was still recovering from a serious knee injury and his lack of fitness resulted in an underwhelming 2014-15 campaign.
After just four goals in 29 appearances, United unsurprisingly decided not to take up the £43.2million option to buy the striker.
9. Henrik Larsson
Just like Falcao, Larsson scored only a handful of goals during a brief loan spell at United, but unlike Falcao he is still fondly remembered at Old Trafford.
The striker joined United during the Swedish off-season in 2007 and proved an influential figure in the dressing room as the Red Devils won the Premier League title.
“On arrival, he seemed a bit of a cult figure with our players,” Ferguson said after Larsson returned to Sweden.
“They would say his name in awed tones. Cult status can vanish in two minutes if a player isn’t doing his job, yet Henrik retained that aura in his time with us.”
8. Michael Owen
The former Liverpool striker was in the twilight of his career when he made to controversial move to United in 2009 and only managed 17 goals in three years at the club.
But he’ll always have *that* moment against Manchester City.
— RedMancunian (@RedMancunian) September 9, 2018
7. Romelu Lukaku
Lukaku moved to Old Trafford from Everton for £75million in 2017, scoring an impressive 27 goals in all competitions in his debut season.
However, the goals dried up in his second campaign and the striker was sold to Inter Milan after falling out of favour under Solskjaer.
6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic arrived at United as a 34-year-old free agent, and some people thought that he was too old to play in the Premier League.
The striker provided his critics wrong, scoring 28 goals in all competitions as the Red Devils won the EFL Cup and Europa League in 2016-17.
But a serious knee injury towards the end towards of that season curtailed his United career, and he joined LA Galaxy in 2018.
5. Anthony Martial
Martial’s 63 goals in 205 appearances mean he has scored more United goals than any player on this list.
The 23-year-old joined the Red Devils from Monaco in 2015 and immediately attained cult hero status by scoring against Liverpool on his debut.
After struggling with inconsistency over the last few years, he is finally fulfilling his huge potential and becoming a complete striker.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 24, 2020
4. Carlos Tevez
Tevez joined United on loan from West Ham and formed part of one of the most feared attacking trios in Premier League history alongside Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.
He became a fan favourite at Old Trafford, lifting two Premier League titles and a Champions League between 2007 and 2009.
The Argentine sadly then ruined his status among United fans by completing a move to arch-rivals Manchester City when his loan deal expired.
3. Dimitar Berbatov
Unlike Tevez, Berbatov rejected interest from Manchester City when he joined United in 2008 for a then club-record fee.
He often received criticism for his languid style of play but still won two Premier League titles at United and claimed the Golden Boot in 2011.
The Bulgarian also produced several jaw-dropping moments of skill, including the overhead kick against Liverpool and an outrageous assist against West Ham.
Robin van Persie’s arrival signalled the end of Berbatov’s time at the club, and he signed for Fulham in 2012.
2. Javier Hernandez
After the Manucho and Diouf disasters, people were starting to question if Ferguson had lost his touch in the transfer market, but he proved that he could still find some rough diamonds in 2010.
Hernandez was signed from Mexican side Chivas de Guadalajara and scored 20 goals in all competitions during his debut campaign.
The super sub netted another 30 goals over the next two seasons but eventually fell down the pecking order and joined Bayer Leverkusen in 2015.
1. Robin van Persie
After signing from Arsenal in 2012, Van Persie enjoyed a fairy-tale first season at United and helped fire them to their 20th league title.
“In terms of impact, he has had as big an impact as anyone I can imagine,” Ferguson said in 2013.
“I think we had an expectation of Robin because his performance last year for Arsenal was sensational. We saw him last year and knew he could gel into the way our team was, and he has never disappointed us.”
The striker was unable to reach the same heights under David Moyes or Louis van Gaal and was sold to Fenerbahce in 2015.