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

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba. Manchester United

Manchester United have spent a lot of money over the past 10 summer transfer windows, but 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 38 United appearances between them, although Fred has turned things around after a difficult first season in England.

8. 2015-16

Louis van Gaal made six signings in the summer of 2015, but they didn’t do enough to prevent the manager from being sacked at the end of the season.

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 and Matteo Darmian never established himself as a first-team regular.

But Sergio Romero was an able deputy for David de Gea, while Anthony Martial has now made over 250 appearances for United, scoring 78 goals.

7. 2020-21

The 2020 summer transfer window was dominated by United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho, but Borussia Dortmund refused to drop their asking price and kept hold of him.

Despite initially being called a panic buy, Edinson Cavani silenced his critics and scored 17 goals in all competitions in his debut season.

Donny van de Beek and Alex Telles are yet to get a regular run in Solskjaer’s side, although the latter has seemingly helped Luke Shaw’s progress.

In teenagers Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo, they also signed two talented prospects who could have a big future at Old Trafford.

READ: From pragmatist to artiste, Edinson Cavani is Old Trafford’s new showman

6. 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 remain at United and have both made over 150 appearances for the club.

5. 2014-15

After finishing seventh in 2013-14, United replaced Moyes with 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 and Daley Blind also joined the club in 2014 but didn’t come anywhere near filling the void left by Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

They did make two successful signings that summer as Ander Herrera became a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford and Luke Shaw has now developed into one of the best left-backs in the world.

4. 2019-20

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, became a useful squad player during his two years at Old Trafford.

United did eventually finish third in the Premier League in 2019-20, 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

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 five years.

2. 2021-22

We may rate United’s latest summer of business differently in time, but the initial impression is that they have had a brilliant window. 

After missing out on Jadon Sancho in 2020, they got their man for just £73million and also bolstered their defence with the signing of Raphael Varane.

But more importantly, Cristiano Ronaldo finally made his long-awaited return to United after 12 years away.

READ: How Cristiano Ronaldo’s U-Turn from Man City to Man Utd broke the internet

1. 2012-13

After missing out 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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