Manchester United‘s transfer business has come under plenty of scrutiny since the departures of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill in 2013.
David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho have been the men identifying (but not always getting) the players they would like, with Ed Woodward taking over the role of overseeing transfers.
We’ve ranked every first-team signing under those three managers. It doesn’t make for particularly pretty reading.
After 500 appearances between the sticks for Barcelona, Valdes signed an 18-month contract with United in 2014.
He made two appearances before being placed on the transfer list by Van Gaal after refusing to play for the reserves.
The Uruguayan, who signed from South American club Penarol, was David Moyes’ first signing as United manager, though he had been on trial at Old Trafford before the Scot’s arrival.
Varela failed to appear under Moyes, instead spending a season on loan at Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid Castilla, but broke into the first team amid an injury crisis under Louis van Gaal, playing 11 times in all competitions in 2015-16.
The right-back was sent on loan to Eintracht Frankfurt the following campaign, only to miss the German Cup final and have his deal terminated after going against the club’s wishes and getting a tattoo which ultimately became infected.
Upon his return to Old Trafford, he was sold back to Penarol.
Joined from Stoke City for £1.5million in 2018 and featured as a substitute in United’s League Cup defeat to Derby County, where they lost on penalties.
He’s unlikely to add to that one appearance any time soon, making it hard to place him any higher, but as far as third-choice keepers go, he’s fine.
The No.7 shirt means a great deal to United supporters.
But Depay failed to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Eric Cantona and was instead sold to Lyon after 18 months, 53 appearances and seven goals.
He’s been pretty good in Ligue 1 since, mind…
The France international was part of the exciting Southampton side which also included the likes of Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana. Unlike those two, Schneiderlin’s big move did not pay dividends.
Like Depay, the midfielder lasted 18 months at Old Trafford before being sold by Mourinho in January 2017.
The right-back signed from Torino in 2015 and, despite being linked with a return to Italy ever since he moved to England, somehow remains at United.
However, his appearances have steadily dropped in each of his seasons at Old Trafford, to the point of him making just seven in 2018-19.
Depending on how much onus you put on money paid in return for performances and goals, Di Maria could be even further down this list – but he was decent at times.
Coming in as a British record signing under Van Gaal, Di Maria enjoyed a good run in the lead up to Halloween, but the Argentina international’s form deserted him entirely thereafter, and he was sold to PSG for £44million the following summer.
“He was unhappy at the club, Di Maria’s translator, Debora Gomes, told Esporte Interativo in 2017.
“Firstly, he couldn’t communicate with anyone. And second because he realised the club bought him not because the club thought, ‘Oh, he will bring titles to us because he is a good player.’
“No. Because they simply wanted to sell his shirts. This I heard inside the club, the people talking. ‘Di Maria sells T-shirts, so let’s buy him’. So he was not happy.
“Then I realised, after Sir Alex Ferguson left the club, the club lost interest in football. It’s money, money, money. It’s making money and that’s it.”
A textbook case of a legend of the game coming to England too late in their career.
It was thought United had pulled off something of a coup by landing Sanchez, who was also wanted by Manchester City and Chelsea.
The former Arsenal forward moved to the Red Devils as part of a swap deal which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan depart in the opposite direction.
This ranking could change, but it’s probably fair to say United was expecting slightly more than five goals in 45 appearances.
The Brazilian was United’s marquee signing in the summer of 2018, but he rarely got the pulses racing during his first season at Old Trafford.
Hopefully it will just go down as a period of adaptation before fans see the best of him.
After being voted Bundesliga Players’ Player of the Season, Mkhitaryan moved to United tasked with adding the creativity to Mourinho’s attack.
After a slow start, the Armenian showed glimpses of his quality but fell out of favour and joined Arsenal in January 2018 as part of the swap deal for Alexis Sanchez.
Like a lot of players on this list, Lukaku has been OK on the whole but just hasn’t lived up to expectations.
His first campaign at United yielded a not-bad 27 goals in all competitions, but that dropped to 15 in 2018-19, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer often leaving him out following his appointment and all the noises suggest the Belgian will be allowed to leave in the summer.
14. Luke Shaw – £27m
Shaw’s progress was curtailed due to a horrendous leg break, and the left-back had a fractured relationship with Mourinho.
But the 23-year-old now once again looks like the long-term option United thought they were getting when they signed him.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 4, 2018
13. Diogo Dalot – £19m
Dalot signed from Porto in 2018 and made 23 appearances in three positions in his first season at United, playing on the wing and filling in at left-back as well as at his natural right-back.
Perhaps better bombing forward than defending at this stage of his career, Dalot has improving to do – but at 20, he has plenty of time to do it.
Mourinho described Dalot as the “
Signed by Van Gaal in 2014, Rojo is another defender whose spell at Old Trafford has been marred by injury.
The Argentina international made 41 appearances in all competitions as United won the League Cup and Europa League in 2016-17, but he made only 18 in the next two seasons combined.
Blind followed Van Gaal to United in 2014 and became a reliable member of the squad thanks to his versatility before returning to Ajax in 2018.
He was steady if unspectacular.
Reuniting with his former AZ manager Van Gal, Romero was signed as a back-up goalkeeper in 2015.
He has largely been deployed in cup competitions, keeping a clean sheet in United’s 2-0 win over Ajax in the Europa League final.
A fee which could still rise to £56million, Martial remains a favourite of supporters – and us – but there’s also a nagging feeling there’s a next level he ought to have found by now.
A record of 48 goals in 174 appearances over four seasons isn’t bad for a player who’s often been utilised on the wing, but most would have been expecting more when the France international announced himself back in 2015 with that memorable debut goal against Liverpool.
Bailly was signed from Villareal in 2016 as Mourinho’s first signing. And he’s often been United’s most impressive centre-back when fit.
Staying fit, however, has been the problem.
Pogba was the world’s most expensive player when he returned to United from Juventus in 2016.
His form has been up and down throughout his three seasons at Old Trafford, frustratingly so, and come the end of 2018-19 the same question was being asked: is he a player United should build a team around, or should they give up and move on?
Despite receiving plenty of criticism, Fellaini was a regular under three different United managers, lasting longer than many more illustrious names.
He found himself a handy niche as a battering ram but was also trusted as a holding midfielder in some big games by Mourinho before being let go by Solskjaer in January 2019.
The Sweden international is unlike many of the players on this list in that he’s improved as he’s gone on since joining in 2017.
Brave, a good reader of the game, comfortable on the ball and an obvious leader, he is one of few players United shouldn’t need to worry about needing to improve on any time soon.
A slow starter at Old Trafford, Herrera found the role which has most suited him during Mourinho’s first season in charge.
The Spaniard was no longer an automatic pick after the arrival of Matic, but he remained a popular player until the end and was a surprisingly good shithouse, which always goes down well with the fans.
“At this moment, he is a giant, not for his size but for the way he plays,” Mourinho told Goal in summation of one of his favourites.
Matic has been one of the Premier League’s best defensive midfielders in recent years and is also capable of pulling out something special on occasion.
Matic with a brilliant goal against the Palace! ⚽️✔ pic.twitter.com/NHGqKYpg7N
— Manchester United (@ManRedDevils11) March 7, 2018
Signed by Moyes, Mata impressed under Van Gaal and adapted to Mourinho when many expected the duo to be incompatible.
He’s also written absolutely loads of blogs. Frankly, we love him.
Many people doubted whether Ibrahimovic could make an impact on the Premier League after joining United at the age of 34.
Twenty-eight goals in all competitions silenced the doubters only for his season to be cut short by a knee injury which he struggled to recover from before joining LA Galaxy.
Still, he has been one of the few players to rise to the occasion at Old Trafford since Ferguson’s departure, and as a free transfer he was an outstanding signing.