The 19 Man Utd academy graduates playing elsewhere in major leagues

Quick Reads

Manchester United have a proud tradition of developing youngsters – and that has benefitted lots of clubs around the world.

United have an incredible record of including an academy graduate in every matchday squad dating back to 1938, but not everybody can make the grade at Old Trafford.

We’ve taken a look at every former Manchester United academy player currently playing elsewhere in Europe’s major leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France.

Phil Bardsley

Since leaving United in 2008, Bardsley has knocked the Red Devils out of a League Cup semi-final and Wayne Rooney out in his own kitchen.

Fair play.

Jonny Evans

Given the fact Evans was linked with moves to Arsenal and Tottenham – as well as a return to Old Trafford – last year, is he one United shouldn’t have let go in the first place?

Danny Simpson

The right-back has gone on to win more Premier League titles than Jamie Carragher, and he won’t let the former Liverpool hero forget it.

Danny Welbeck

Another former prospect who has since returned to United to knock them out of a cup competition – Welbeck scored in Arsenal’s 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final victory in 2015 – the forward’s future is up in the air with his Gunners contract set to expire in the summer.

Tom Cleverley

A name which became synonymous with the failings of David Moyes, we can’t help but be happy for Cleverley carving out a decent career for himself at Watford.

Joshua King

King made just two first-team appearances for United but was sent on loan four times before joining Blackburn permanently.

The most English-sounding Norwegian ever has turned into a pretty handy Premier League forward for Bournemouth.

Robbie Brady

A four-minute cameo in a League Cup victory over Newcastle United represented Brady’s only run-out for United’s first team, but, like King, he has proved himself to be a reliable top-flight performer with Hull, Norwich and Burnley.

Craig Cathcart

One of the myriad of players sent to Royal Antwerp while at Manchester United, Cathcart is now making a career confusing us by pulling off backheels as part of Watford’s Barcelona pretenders.

READ: Craig Cathcart’s no-look backheel makes no sense, and we love it

Michael Keane

In 2017, Keane revealed in an interview with The Times he rejected an offer to return to United to instead join Everton from Burnley.

After a turbulent start to life at Goodison Park, the centre-back has rediscovered his best form and is now being linked with moves to Tottenham and Arsenal.


“‘I love Manchester United, but I was so desperate to leave United,” Rafael told ESPN in 2018. “Only one man did that because I liked everything about the place. I couldn’t handle him anymore.”

It’s fair to say the right-back didn’t see eye to eye with Louis van Gaal, but United’s loss was Lyon’s gain.


The other one. Plays for Nantes, before you ask.

Danny Drinkwater

When United allowed Drinkwater to join Leicester in 2012, they probably never expected him to end up as a Chelsea reserve.

Tom Heaton

The best England goalkeeper at Burnley, which is more of a compliment than it sounds.

Adnan Januzaj

Once considered the future of Manchester United and England, it’s not exactly worked out that way.

Still though, if he ever finds his groove at Real Sociedad, there’s always that buyback clause…


READ: Eleven players with buyback clauses: Depay, Ozil, Sancho & more

Matty James

Zero appearances for Manchester United, while his only appearance for Leicester this season came in a FA Cup defeat to Newport County.

Dwight McNeil

This is a bit tenuous, but McNeil, one of the Premier League’s breakthrough stars of the season with Burnley, actually started out in United’s academy before moving across Lancashire in his teens. He recently earned the chance to train with England’s senior squad.

Ron Robert-Zieler

An actual World Cup winner. Sort of. We’d completely forgotten he’d started out at United…but he did.

Pierluigi Gollini

Not the referee. An Atalanta goalkeeper apparently. Shame.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah

One way or another, Fosu-Mensah might not be on this list next season. Being relegated as part of this Fulham side while on loan is not a great look when you’re trying to convince the United hierarchy you can cut it at Old Trafford.

More Manchester United

The story of the Man Utd starlet who had too many loans to make an impact

A tribute to John O’Shea, Manchester United’s great court jester

Seven players Man Utd signed from the Football League in the past decade

Can you name the last four players to wear numbers 1-11 at Man Utd?