Ranking all 10 of Man Utd’s summer transfer windows since Fergie left
Manchester United have spent a lot of money in the 10 summer transfer windows since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, 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 Ferguson’s final season in 2012-13.
We’ve ranked United’s past 10 summer transfers windows from worst to best.
United were always going to struggle after Ferguson’s decision to call it quits 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.
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.
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 79 goals.
Martial: “Highlight? It would have to be my debut, my first game, against Liverpool with that incredible feeling & sensation with all the fans & the fact I’d managed to score. It was truly an amazing moment.” #AM9 👹🔥⚽️pic.twitter.com/7Vu59jUL3D
— Manchester United (@ManUnitedWorld) September 1, 2019
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 the side under Solskajer or Erik ten Hag and the latter has now been loaned out to Sevilla, where he’s continued to struggle.
In teenagers Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo, they also signed two talented prospects who could have a future at Old Trafford but have done nothing as yet.
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.
Lukaku was deemed surplus to requirements by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but Matic was a solid player for five seasons and Lindelof remains at United. Both made (or have made) over 180 appearances for the club.
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.
Luke Shaw was also brought in and eight years on we’re still not really sure if he’s good or not. Ten Hag – whose opinion matters just a bit more than ours – seems to think not.
United did make one very successful signing that summer though – Ander Herrera became a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford.
Solskjaer attempted to shore up United’s leaky defence by spending a combined £130million on Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire in 2019. And it worked for a while.
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.
His vision is something else 🎩
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 22, 2020
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 forever split opinion and has since departed again, to Juventus again, on a free again, the France international produced moments of brilliance and was a key part of Solskjaer’s side.
Mkhitaryan, meanwhile, struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League, and Bailly was plagued by injury problems and has been loaned out to Marseille in 2022-23.
Right, let’s face it: this window coming in second is probably going to annoy people.
United spent over £125million and ended up posting their worst points total of the Premier League era. And let’s not even get started on the ‘was Cristiano Ronaldo a good signing?’ debate.
But in time, and with Erik ten Hag now at the helm, their other business in 2021 may well be looked at more favourably.
Jadon Sancho had a poor first season, but he is still only 22 and is starting to show tentative signs of improvement. Raphael Varane had a poor first season, but he’s Raphael Varane.
There’s still no guarantee, but you could certainly see both those players being part of a new era of success.
Are we getting ahead of ourselves? Is it far too soon to judge how good their most recent summer window was? Should we just wait and see?
The answer to all three of those is probably yes. But bear with us.
If you’ve got this far down the article, you’re well aware that there’s not a lot of stiff competition when it comes to summer windows for United over the last decade. And the early signs have been good, even if not dazzlingly so.
Lisandro Martinez arrived and, after a shaky first couple of games, looks to have formed a solid partnership with Varane. Casemiro had a dodgy debut, but he’s Casemiro. Tyrell Malacia looks a calm, composed, elegant footballer and could prove a bargain at £13.5million.
Oh, and then there’s Antony. We reckon he’s a superstar in the making. In fact, we’ve thought so ever since we first saw him as a teenager in Brazil.