Ashely Young playing for Manchester United. Old Trafford, August 2011.

Revisiting Manchester United’s four first-team signings in 2011, 10 years on

Manchester United had a mixed year in 2011, winning their 19th Premier League title before losing another Champions League final to Barcelona.

Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Sar both announced their retirement in 2011, although Scholes later reversed that decision, and the club also made four first-team signings.

We’ve taken a look at those four signings to see how have fared over the last 10 years.

Anders Lindegaard

United bought Lindegaard from Norwegian club Aalesunds FK for £3.5million in January 2011 as they looked to a future without the ageing Edwin van der Sar.

The goalkeeper wanted to follow in the footsteps of his countryman and idol Peter Schmeichel but it soon became clear that he would have to settle for a role as back-up.

He made just 19 Premier League appearances in four-and-a-half years at the club, 10 of which came in the title-winning campaign of 2012-13.

The Denmark international joined West Brom on a free transfer in 2015 and then had brief spells at Preston North End and Burnley.

Lindegaard returned to Scandinavia with Swedish club Helsingborg in 2019 and hit the headlines after scoring an injury-time equaliser against Falkenberg in July 2020.

“After I started playing again, I reflected on what the dream really is,” Lindegaard told Tipsbladet in 2019. “Is it being at a club like United, is it making money or is it just playing football and feeling like you are the best every time?

“I could well have stayed in Norway, and there is also a part of me today that wish I had stayed in Scandinavia all these years. I can feel the role I have been given in Helsingborg now, it is hugely important and I can feel that I enjoy it very well. It is far easier for a man with my skills to get that role in a club like Helsingborg than it is in a club like Manchester United.

“It is very difficult to get a major role in a huge club like Manchester United. And I thrive best by having a major role in a football team, I thrive best by being able to feel that I have responsibilities, and when I can feel that what I do makes a difference.

“My dream, of course, was to achieve that role at Manchester United, but if I have ever had the skills to do so, I’m not sure.”

READ: Ranking Man Utd’s 23 Premier League goalkeepers from worst to best

Phil Jones

After watching him impress for Blackburn Rovers, United beat a number of other clubs to secure Jones’ signature in the summer of 2011. 

He quickly established himself as a United regular under Sir Alex Ferguson, who tipped the defender for a bright future at Old Trafford. 

“Jones, arguably the way he is looking, could be our best ever player,” Ferguson said in 2013. “I think Jones may be one of the best players we have ever had, no matter where we play him. At 21 years of age, he is going to be a phenomenal player.”

The England international has failed to live up to those lofty expectations and has instead developed a reputation for slapstick moments.

Injuries have also hampered his progress, restricting him to just 119 Premier League appearances since the start of the 2013-14 campaign. 

Ashley Young

Young developed into one of the most exciting wingers in the Premier League at Aston Villa before completing a £17million move to United in 2011.

The England international endeared himself to the supporters with brilliant goals against Arsenal and Tottenham in his debut season before making 19 Premier League appearances in Ferguson’s final year. 

He then reinvented himself as a full-back under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, becoming a consistent and reliable performer in his new role.

But the 36-year-old fell down the pecking order following Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s arrival in 2019 and moved to Inter Milan a few months later.

After helping Inter win their first Serie A title since 2010 in 2020-21, he returned to England for a swansong at Aston Villa.

David de Gea

Despite being heavily linked with Manuel Neuer, United eventually identified De Gea as the long-term successor to Van der Sar.

The Spain international signed from Atletico Madrid in a £18.9million move but initially struggled to cope with the physical rigours of English football.

He then bulked up and developed into one of the best goalkeepers in the world, winning United’s Player of the Year award a record four times.

The 30-year-old has been heavily criticised for making some high-profile errors in recent seasons but is slowly rediscovering his best form.

He is now into his 11th season at Old Trafford and recently moved past Peter Schmeichel to become the overseas player with the most United appearances.

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