The 13 Manchester United signings that cost £30million+ and how they fared
If there’s one thing Manchester United have loved to do in recent years, it’s to splash the cash on a big-money signing.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club, four managers have spent close to £850million on new faces since 2013, and Donny van de Beek and Dayot Upamecano could be set to increase that figure even further in the coming weeks.
We’ve taken a closer look at United’s 13 signings to cost £30million+ to date.
Eric Bailly – £30m
The first player signed by Jose Mourinho, Bailly came to Manchester United as part of the Special One’s rebuild following the Louis van Gaal years. Bailly certainly got off to a good start, picking up the Man of the Match award in United’s 2-1 win against Leicester City in the Community Shield.
Unfortunately for Bailly, injuries have become a constant source of frustration. He missed 25 games last season and a whopping 62 since 2016.
When fit, he’s certainly a very solid centre back and perfect foil for Maguire, but with Upamecano potentially arriving this summer, he might need to fight for his place.
Dimitar Berbatov – £30.75m
My fiance once woke up in the middle of the night because of the noises I was making while watching a compilation of Berbatov first touches. She was certainly relieved and somewhat confused by what was going on.
Berba really was the final piece in the puzzle for Fergie in 2008. Joining from Tottenham for £30.75million after netting 15 in 36 in the previous season for Spurs, the Bulgarian wizard was the perfect addition to play alongside Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and co.
He scored 91 times in 201 appearances for Manchester United, winning two Premier League titles, a League Cup and the Club World Cup.
Victor Lindelof – £30.8m
On-field arguments with Bruno Fernandes aside, Lindelof has been a good addition. He did struggle to hold down his spot under Mourinho but has been given a new lease of life under Ole-Gunnar Solskjaer.
He missed just three Premier League games last season and looks to be the main partner for Harry Maguire – for now at least.
Now, if he could just sort out his ability in the air, he might have a much better time of it.
“Last pre-season I was crying for a centre-defender!” 🤣
Jose Mourinho and Roy Keane agree that Manchester United ‘had’ to buy Harry Maguire but say there is no doubt he improves their defence.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 22, 2019
Anthony Martial – £36m
It’s incredible to think that this is Martial’s sixth season at Old Trafford. The forward was just 19 years old when he made the move from Monaco, and at the time Martial had only scored on 15 occasions in his first-team career.
However, after announcing himself to the world with a Thierry Henry-esque strike against Liverpool, he netted 17 times in all competitions for United in his debut campaign.
He’s pretty much the blueprint of the modern forward; pace to burn, excellent dribbling and as cool as ice in front of goal. Seventeen goals in the Premier League last season was his best return but don’t be surprise to see him do even better in 2020-21.
Juan Mata – £37.1m
The diminutive Spaniard has now been at United for four seasons longer than he was at Stamford Bridge. He came in as a then club record signing in what was pretty much the final attempt from David Moyes to save his tenure.
To be fair, Mata was just happy to get away from Jose Mourinho, who wasn’t keen on him at Chelsea for whatever reason – which made it slightly awkward when Mourinho then took over at Old Trafford.
Six goals and four assists in his first season wasn’t a bad return. He’s now made 255 appearances, netting 45 times in all competitions for United, and is one of football’s nice guys.
Nemanja Matic – £40m
There’s no question that before joining United, Matic was one of the best midfielders in the world, playing a huge role in Chelsea’s two title wins in 2014-15 and 2016-17.
While he’s not quite found that form since the move to Old Trafford, he has still been very good. In fact, he might have gotten a lot more flack than maybe he deserves. It hasn’t helped that Scott McTominay has burst on to the scene and Fred has enjoyed a tiny renaissance.
Under Solskjaer though, Matic has been the pivot between attack and defence. He’s willing to sit back and allow others to do the attacking while he covers the backline. When he’s in the team under Solskjaer, United have recorded a win rate of 63.4%. When he misses out on the starting XI, that drops to 43.6%.
Show Matic some love. We have.
Bruno Fernandes – £47m
The most recent addition on this list, Bruno has been a revelation since making the move from Sporting Lisbon in January.
Despite not playing a full season, he managed to pick up 11 assists, the joint-most among United’s squad along with Marcus Rashford. However, he did that in just 14 appearances, 17 fewer than the England hitman.
Getting to see him pull the strings for an entire campaign is going to be very exciting. That £47million price-tag seems like a steal now.
Fred – £47m
Another £47million man, Fred joined from Shakhtar Donetsk back in 2018. For much of his time on Manchester though, his performances have hardly justified that inflated fee.
His displays throughout his first season were extremely lacklustre. He’s been labelled as one of the worst ever signings by Manchester United by fans and some journalists even claimed Mourinho never really wanted him.
However, the Brazilian has looked a completely different player under Solskjaer, while coaches Michael Carrick and Kieran McKenna have helped with one-on-one sessions.
In fact, last season Fred made 234 ball recoveries, more than McTominay(147), Matic (146) and Pogba (95) and had the best passing accuracy of any midfielder at United with 87.47% from 1,668 attempted passes.
He’s linked with a move away to Galatasary, in no part thanks to the news surrounding Donny van de Beek.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – £50m
The 22-year-old had his price inflated mainly thanks to the fact that he is English and young. While his offensive play has been criticised at times – although that showed improvement as the season progressed – his first season at Old Trafford has generally been a success.
Compared to Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold, Wan-Bissaka actually made more tackles, with 129 vs 55. He also won 64.15% of his ground duels compared to Alexander-Arnold’s 44.44%.
It might seem like a ludicrous fee for a right-back, but his performances are starting to pay it back in a big way.
Angel Di Maria – £59.7m
At the time, Di Maria’s move from Real Madrid was the highest in British history. His move was such a big deal that Sky Sports even dusted off the Player Cam feature especially for the 4-0 win over QPR, when he was named man of the match.
He scored a worldie against Leicester in the next game, effortlessly chipping Kasper Schmeichel.
Despite being a creative outlet for Louis van Gaal’s side, his lack of goals became quite telling, managing just three in the league, and he struggled to settle in Manchester. He was soon shipped out to Paris Saint Germain for around £44million.
Since joining PSG, he’s looked much more at home, winning four Ligue 1 titles and finishing a runner-up in the Champions League.
Romelu Lukaku – £75m
There’s no question that Lukaku got a raw deal during his spell in Manchester. His first season went well, with him netting 27 occasions in all competitions – the 10th most scored by a United player in a single season.
But he gradually lost confidence after that first campaign amid criticisms of his form and fitness, and Solskjaer appeared to lose faith in the player.
Given the service that the likes of Rashford, Martial and Mason Greenwood enjoy now, it could perhaps have been a different story.
Everything worked out for Lukaku, though, as he’s been banging them in for Inter following his £73million move last summer.
Harry Maguire – £80m
It really hasn’t helped Maguire that he became the world’s most expensive defender, topping Virgil Van Dijk’s £75million move. With that label comes a lot of added pressure and scrutiny, both fair and unfair.
In his first campaign at Old Trafford, he’s been named the club captain, played 55 times and helped the team to a third-place finish.
Holidays in Greece aside, Maguire is an integral part of Solskjaer’s team, and with a lot of making up to do, this could be a very important season for the 27-year-old.
Paul Pogba – £89m
It cost big to get Pogba back into Manchester in 2016. Since then he’s rightly or wrongly divided fans and pundits alike.
He had to hold the label of being the world’s most expensive player for a short period of time, which certainly didn’t help ease some of the pressure on him.
But he ended 2018-19 as the club’s top scorer with 16 goals in all competitions. Injuries hampered the 2019-20 campaign, but he looked very bright alongside Fernandes upon his return.
If he can stay fully fit this season, it should be very exciting to see what those two can get up to.