Ranking Man Utd’s past 10 summer transfer windows from worst to best

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While Manchester United have spent a lot of money over the past 10 summer transfer windows, they’ve not always had the best return on their investments. 

United’s recruitment has been heavily criticised, with the club failing to win the Premier League since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.

We’ve ranked United’s past 10 summer transfers windows from worst to best.

10. 2013-14

United were always going to struggle after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement and the 2013 summer transfer window only made things more difficult.

David Moyes reportedly tried – and failed – to sign Cesc Fabregas, Thiago, Gareth Bale, Sami Khedira, Ander Herrera and Leighton Baines.

United ended the window with only Marouane Fellaini through the door and the Belgium international became symptomatic of their decline.

READ: 11 brilliant players that Man Utd have missed out on under Ed Woodward

9. 2018-19

The summer of 2018 was the beginning of the end for Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.

United signed Diogo Dalot, Fred and Lee Grant but failed to land any of Mourinho’s centre-back targets. A few months later, he was sacked.

Dalot and Grant have made just 36 United appearances between them, but Fred turned things around after a difficult first season in England.

8. 2014-15

After finishing seventh in 2013-14, United replaced Moyes with Louis van Gaal and gave the manager £150million to spend on new signings.

Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao arrived at Old Trafford with big reputations, but the pair both spent just one underwhelming season at United.

Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw also joined the club in 2014 but didn’t come anywhere near filling the void left by Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra.

Ander Herrera proved to be the one success story from this transfer window, establishing himself as a fans’ favourite during his five years at Old Trafford.

READ: Ranking Man Utd’s 30 transfers under Ed Woodward from worst to best

7. 2015-16

Van Gaal made another six signings in the summer of 2015, but this transfer window was only marginally better than the previous one.

Bastian Schweinsteiger joined United a few years too late and Morgan Schneiderlin flopped at Old Trafford following his £25million switch from Southampton.

Memphis Depay failed to live up to expectations after joining United from PSV while Matteo Darmian never established himself as a first-team regular.

But Sergio Romero has proven an able deputy for David de Gea, while Anthony Martial has become Van Gaal’s greatest legacy at United.

6. 2020-21

We may rate United’s latest summer of business higher – or lower – in time, but the initial impression is that they simply haven’t got what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needed or wanted.

No centre-back or right-winger goes down as another big black mark against Ed Woodward – the failure to land Jadon Sancho was particularly predictable – while Edinson Cavani smacks of a panic buy aimed at appeasing unhappy supporters with a big name. It’s unlikely to work.

Donny van de Beek was a good signing at a good price, but it’s questionable whether Alex Telles will be the world-class left-back United need – he certainly wasn’t their first choice.

In teenagers Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo, there is hope for the future.

5. 2019-20

The jury is still out on this one, too.

Solskjaer helped shore up United’s leaky defence by spending a combined £130million on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire in 2019.

Romelu Lukaku was sold to Inter Milan for £73.9million while Daniel James, who was snapped up from Swansea City, scored four goals in 46 appearances in 2019-20.

United did eventually finish third in the Premier League, but that was mainly due to the impact of January signing Bruno Fernandes.

READ: Alternative highlights of 19-20: Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s many slide tackles

4. 2017-18

United were expected to build on a promising first season with Jose Mourinho and signed Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof in 2017.

Lukaku hit the ground running with 27 goals in all competitions in 2017-18 before the goals eventually dried up in his second campaign.

While Lukaku was deemed surplus to requirements by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Matic and Lindelof are two of the first names on the team sheet under the Norwegian.

3. 2016-17

United hired Mourinho, broke the British transfer record to sign Paul Pogba and also brought Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Eric Bailly to Old Trafford in 2016.

Arguably the best signing since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, Ibrahimovic silenced the doubters with 28 goals in all competitions in 2016-17.

While Pogba will forever split opinion, the France international produces moments of brilliance and is a key part of Solskjaer’s side.

But Mkhitaryan struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League, while Bailly has been plagued by injury problems for the last four years.

2. 2011-12

United signed a 19-year-old David de Gea from Atletico Madrid for £18.9million following Edwin van der Sar’s retirement in the summer of 2011.

The Spain international overcame a difficult start to his United career and developed into one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

Despite becoming much-maligned figures at Old Trafford, Ashley Young and Phil Jones certainly ended up justifying their fees, but United didn’t replace the retired Paul Scholes and had to bring the midfielder out of retirement in January 2012.

READ: Ranking Man Utd’s 22 Premier League goalkeepers from worst to best

1. 2012-13

After missing out on on the Premier League title by goal difference in 2011-12, United needed someone who came with a guarantee of goals.

The Red Devils eventually signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal, and he almost single-handedly fired them to their 20th league title, scoring 30 goals in all competitions in his debut season.

Shinji Kagawa, Nick Powell and Alexander Buttner also arrived at Old Trafford in 2012 but failed to make a major impact.


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