Football

Top 5: Manchester United stars of the 21st Century

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Rooney & Ronaldo: Manchester United icons (©GettyImages)
Rooney & Ronaldo: Manchester United icons (©GettyImages).

Manchester United have had some of the most gifted footballers in the world on their books since the turn of the 21st Century.

Whittling them down to decide the club's top five stars was no easy task, with plenty of high-profile names missing out.

Roy Keane, David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Edwin van deer Sar, Robin van Persie and many, many others - all we can offer is an honourable mention.

Here are Manchester United's top five stars of the 21st Century:

5. Ruud van Nistelrooy

Ruud van Nistelrooy was arguably the most clinical striker in the world during his peak years at Manchester United.

The former Netherlands international, who retired in 2012, scored a remarkable 150 goals in 219 appearances for the Red Devils.

Every time he took to the pitch you expected him to score - and the unmistakable sound of "Ruuuuuud!" to echo from all four corners of Old Trafford.

4. Ryan Giggs

Ryan Giggs enjoyed his peak years during the 1990s, but he's still been incredibly good since the turn of 2000.

Miraculously, he's still going strong today, and has now made more appearances for the Red Devils than any other player in history.

The former Wales international has adapted his game since losing that burst of pace which used to leave defenders in his wake - moving into the centre of the pitch - but he remains an effective and inspirational player.

3. Paul Scholes

It was only in the latter stages of his career when Paul Scholes started earning the recognition that his brilliant talent deserved.

The ultimate professional, you will not find a more modest footballer than the former England international, who retired - for the second time - at the end of last season.

Scholes helped United control matches, while he was in a league of his own when it came to his passing ability and vision.

Everyone who played alongside Scholes waxes lyrical about him.

2. Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney signed for Manchester United after establishing his reputation as England's most exciting young footballer - and the 28-year-old is still shining bright at Old Trafford nine years later.

The naturally gifted striker has won the lot at Old Trafford, including five Premier League titles and one Champions League, and has scored 204 goals in 416 matches for the Red Devils.

But Rooney's not just an out-and-out goalscorer, he can play in multiple positions, making him a manager's dream.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

One of the finest players of his generation, Manchester United helped Cristiano Ronaldo become one of the best players in the world.

Blessed with an outstanding natural talent, Ronaldo worked tirelessly on his physique and technique to transform himself from lightweight teenager to powerful goalscoring machine.

In his six years at Old Trafford, he scored 118 goals in 292 games, including a stunning 42 during the 2007/08 campaign.

He also deservedly picked up the Ballon d'Or in 2008 - the first Manchester United player to win the award since the legendary George Best 40 years earlier.

Topics:
Football
Premier League
Ronaldo
Manchester United
Paul Scholes
Cristiano Ronaldo
Wayne Rooney
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