Where are they now? The Man Utd Xl from David de Gea’s debut in 2011
A lot has changed at Manchester United since David de Gea joined the club from Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2011.
De Gea was signed as a direct replacement for the outgoing Edwin van der Sar and made his debut against Chicago Fire in a pre-season friendly.
We’ve taken a look at the United team from that game to see where they all are today.
GK: David de Gea
After completing his £17million move to United, De Gea 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 Spain international has made over 450 appearances during his 11 years at United, surpassing Peter Schmeichel’s record for an overseas player.
The 32-year-old had some difficult years under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and question marks remain over his ability to play out from the back under Erik ten Hag, but he still won the Premier League’s Golden Glove award for the most clean sheets last term.
We keep bated breath to see whether United’s longest-serving player signs a new deal or leaves as a free agent this summer.
RB: Fabio (Jonny Evans, ’45)
Despite playing in the 2011 Champions League final against Barcelona, Fabio never really established himself as a first-team regular at United.
The full-back had spells at Cardiff City and Middlesbrough before joining Ligue 1 side Nantes in 2018, where he spent five years before returning to Brazil with Gremio earlier this year.
Evans rediscovered his best form since leaving United in 2015, impressing for both West Brom and Leicester City. He’s made over 100 appearances for the Foxes and helped them win the FA Cup for the first time in their history but was frequently sidelined as they suffered a shock relegation last term.
CB: Phil Jones (Nemanja Vidic, ’75)
Jones joined United alongside De Gea in the summer of 2011 and was regarded as one of the best young prospects in world football.
“Jones, arguably the way he is looking, could be our best ever player,” Sir Alex 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 centre-back was still on United’s books but has failed to live up to those lofty expectations and has just departed after his contract expired after an injury-ravaged few years.
After deciding to leave the Red Devils in 2014, Vidic saw out his playing career with a comparatively forgettable 18-month stint at Inter Milan.
CB: Chris Smalling (Rafael, ’75)
Smalling established himself as a regular in the United side throughout the 2010s, most notably shining during Louis van Gaal’s reign.
After being replaced by Harry Maguire, the centre-back joined Roma on loan and then made the move permanent at the end of the 2019-20 season.
He’s since reunited with former United boss Jose Mourinho and helped the Serie A side win the UEFA Europa Conference League in 2021-22, producing a Man of the Match performance in the final.
Rafael fell out of favour under Louis van Gaal and can now be found playing at right-back for Botafogo in his native Brazil.
LB: Patrice Evra (Rio Ferdinand, ’56)
While Evra won two Serie A titles with Juventus after leaving United, he also got released by Marseille and had a forgettable three months at West Ham.
Since retiring in 2019, he’s gained his coaching qualifications and has often been a hugely entertaining pundit in the Sky Sports studio.
Ferdinand can now be found as a pundit on BT Sport after hanging up his boots in 2014 following an unsuccessful spell at QPR.
RM: Mame Biram Diouf (Park Ji-Sung, ’45)
Diouf made just nine competitive appearances during his time at United and was sold to Bundesliga side Hannover 96 in January 2012.
The striker returned to England with Stoke City in 2014 and spent six years with the Potters before joining Hatayspor in 2020. He decided to leave them at the end of 2021-22 and is now turning out for their Turkish Super Lig rivals Konyaspor.
After hanging up his boots in 2014, Park studied at Leicester’s De Montfort University and graduated with an International MA in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport.
He briefly worked for K League 1 side Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors as an adviser before returning to England with QPR in December 2021. The former South Korea international is currently coaching their Under-16s as he completes his UEFA B license.
CM: Michael Carrick (Anderson, ’45)
Carrick enjoyed an incredible career at United, winning five Premier League titles, the Champions League, the Europa League, the FA Cup and two League Cups.
The midfielder joined the coaching staff at Old Trafford after retiring in 2018 but left the role following a brief spell as caretaker manager in 2021.
A former Golden Boy winner, Anderson finished his playing career at Turkish second division club Adana Demirspor and retired at the age of 31. He now works for the club as the assistant manager of their youth team.
CM: Tom Cleverley (Ryan Giggs, ’45)
Having impressed on the pre-season tour, Cleverley made his competitive debut in the 2011 Community Shield and was tipped for a bright future.
The midfielder made 79 appearances in all competitions for United but became a much-maligned figure during the David Moyes era.
He had a brief spell at Everton and has spent the last six seasons with Watford, making over 100 appearances for the club.
Giggs called time on his remarkable 23-year playing career in 2014 and then moved into coaching. He had 24 games in charge of Wales but stepped away from his role in November 2020 after being arrested.
LW: Gabriel Obertan (Federico Macheda, ’56)
Obertan failed to make the grade at Old Trafford, scoring one goal in 28 appearances before joining Newcastle United on a permanent deal in 2011.
Since leaving Tyneside in 2016, the winger has played for Anzhi Makhachkala, Wigan Athletic, Levski Sofia, BB Erzurumspor and US side Charlotte Independence.
Macheda burst onto the scene with that winning goal against Aston Villa in 2009 but never hit the same heights again. After several years in the English second tier, the 31-year-old was most recently seen turning out for Cypriot club APOEL.
ST: Danny Welbeck (Nani, 56)
Despite being a fan favourite at Old Trafford, Welbeck was deemed surplus to requirements by Van Gaal and joined Arsenal in 2014.
The striker was plagued by injury problems during his five years with the Gunners and has since successfully rebuilt his career at Brighton.
After leaving United in 2015, Nani had spells in Turkey, Spain, Portugal, America and Italy before joining Melbourne Victory last year. That’s a well-stamped passport.
ST: Dimitar Berbatov (Wayne Rooney, ’45)
Berbatov won the Premier League Golden Boot in 2010-11 but was shown the door by United following Robin van Persie’s arrival in 2012.
The former Bulgaria international later had spells with Fulham, Monaco, PAOK and Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters before announcing his retirement in 2019.
Rooney eventually became United’s all-time leading goalscorer before signing for boyhood club Everton in 2017. After a couple of seasons in MLS with DC United, he returned to England with Derby County and then became their manager in January 2021.
While the former England captain earned plenty of plaudits for his work at Pride Park, he couldn’t prevent their relegation to League One and left the role at the end of the 2021-22 season. He’s now in charge of MLS club DC United.