Ranking Jose Mourinho’s 11 signings for Man Utd from worst to best
Despite spending over £350million on new signings, Jose Mourinho failed to live up to expectations during his two and a half years at Manchester United.
Mourinho won the Community Shield, EFL Cup and Europa League in 2016-17 but was then sacked after a disastrous start to his third season at Old Trafford.
We’ve taken a look at the 11 first-team signings he made at United and ranked them from worst to best.
11. Alexis Sanchez
The signing that came to define Mourinho’s reign at United, Sanchez was always going to be in last place here.
Despite reportedly earning £400,000 a week, he looked like a shadow of his former self at Old Trafford, scoring just five goals in 45 appearances.
The Chile international was later shipped out on loan to Inter Milan and then made the move permanent in 2020, receiving a huge pay-off in the process.
Sure enough, he’s refound some form in Milan and proved a useful asset in the 2020-21 title win under Antonio Conte. Typical.
10. Lee Grant
Since joining United from Stoke City for £1.5million in 2018, Grant has acted as the back-up goalkeeper, making just two first-team appearances.
Despite now being behind Dean Henderson, David de Gea and Tom Heaton in the pecking order, the 38-year-old signed a contract extension until the end of 2021-22.
He is reportedly a key figure in the dressing room and will continue to work towards his coaching badges during the season.
9. Diogo Dalot
Once regarded as one of the most promising young defenders in Europe, Dalot joined Mourinho at United in a £19million deal in 2018.
“I think he is one of the best coaches ever and for me, it is a dream come true to be alongside him and to learn from him. For me, it is very good,” Dalot said in December 2018.
But he made just six first-team appearances under his compatriot and has since been replaced by Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford.
The 22-year-old spent 2020-21 on loan at AC Milan and was been linked with a permanent move to the Serie A side, but he ended up staying put and has enjoyed something of a resurgence under Ralf Rangnick. If it lasts, he could well climb up this list.
8. Eric Bailly
Mourinho’s first signing at United, Bailly became an immediate fan favourite and enjoyed a really promising debut season in 2016-17.
But a series of injury problems have seen him fall out of favour, restricting him to just 32 Premier League appearances in the last three-and-a-half seasons.
The Ivory Coast international has fallen further down the pecking order since the arrival of Raphael Varane. His future is uncertain, but given he remains contracted until 2024, he could well stick around as a squad player for a few more years.
7. Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Having won the Bundesliga Player of the Year award in 2015-16, expectations were high when Mkhitaryan completed a £26million move to United.
While the Armenia international played an integral role in their Europa League success in 2017, he struggled for consistency and failed to adapt to life in the Premier League.
The 32-year-old had another underwhelming spell at Arsenal before joining Serie A side Roma in 2020, where he has reunited with Mourinho.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan finds the net against Ajax! 🔴🏆
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) May 21, 2021
6. Nemanja Matic
After working with Matic at Chelsea, Mourinho decided to bring the Serbia international to United in a £40million deal in the summer of 2017.
He became a near ever-present in midfield during Moutinho’s final 18 months at Old Trafford but never really recaptured the form he had shown at Stamford Bridge.
Under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the 32-year-old enjoyed an extended run in the side after lockdown but now finds himself on the fringes of the first team due to his lack of mobility in the middle of the park.
Signed for £47million in 2018, Fred endured a disastrous debut season at United amid reports that Mourinho never really wanted him.
But he subsequently demonstrated flashes of quality Solskjaer, and now Rangnick, finally showing why United were keen to spend so much to bring him in from Shakhtar.
The Brazil international is yet to fully convince on a consistent basis, but it’s not unthinkable that in the right set-up he could finally thrive, becoming the player United need him to be week in, week out.
4. Romelu Lukaku
After Zlatan Ibrahimovic suffered a serious knee injury in 2017, Lukaku joined United in a £75million deal and spearheaded Mourinho’s attack.
The Belgium international scored a respectable 42 goals in 96 games during his two seasons at United, but 11 of those came in his first 10 games, making the drop-off notable.
He became a much-maligned figure at Old Trafford in 2018-19 and then decided to join Inter Milan, where he enjoyed the best spell of his career, before returning to the Premier League, signing for Chelsea in a £100million deal.
Thomas Tuchel’s Blues are now experiencing the same frustrations with the attacker.
3. Victor Lindelof
Brought in from Benfica in 2017, Lindelof showed glimpses of his talent but made a series of high-profile errors in his debut season at United.
The Sweden international turned things around under Solskjaer and formed a strong defensive partnership with Harry Maguire, although Mourinho revealed he’s not entirely convinced.
“Lindelof is very, very good in some aspects of the game,” Mourinho told Sky Sports in 2019. “But he can be bullied in the one-on-one in the box, he’s not especially good in the air and Maguire has that kind of presence and physicality that is very, very important.”
Many expected Lindelof to fall down the pecking order since the arrival of Varane, but the early signs look as though Rangnick prefers him to Maguire.
Mourinho on Lindelof "He's not specially good in the air"
Immediately in the pre-match warm-up, Lindelof misses a header 😂 pic.twitter.com/w8oWerXyN6
— TheMontyTweets 🦉 (@TheMontyTweets) September 22, 2019
2. Paul Pogba
Four years after leaving United for Juventus on a free transfer, Pogba made a highly-anticipated return to the club in 2016 in an £89million deal.
He won the League Cup and scored the opener in the Europa League final in 2016-17 before his relationship with Mourinho turned sour.
The public feud divided fans and pundits alike, but the France international recaptured his form to look one of the best midfielders in Europe for a spell under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Still, Pogba hasn’t lifted silverware at United since Mourinho departed, and – whether his own fault or not – has never quite been able to deliver.
The club-record signing looks set to leave for free, for a second time, this summer. Given that, we’re sure many will disagree with placing him so high on this list, but no others on this list compare when he’s on form.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ibrahimovic joined United as a 34-year-old free agent amid doubts from some whether he could make an impact on the Premier League.
The striker silenced his doubters and scored 28 goals in all competitions in 2016-17, including the winner in the Community Shield and a crucial brace in the League Cup final.
“I conquered England – it took three months,” the self-assured Ibrahimovic told United’s official website in January 2017.
While a serious knee injury in April 2017 ultimately curtailed his United career, he has still been one of their best signings in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. Given he’s still banging in the goals at the age of 40 for AC Milan, they might’ve done well to keep him around longer than they did.