The 13 Man Utd players Louis van Gaal axed on his arrival in 2014 - where are they now?

  • Rob Swan

Following David Moyes’s disastrous tenure, Manchester United required a steady pair of hands to get the club back into the Champions League at the first time of asking.

They opted for the vastly-experienced Louis van Gaal, who was managing the Dutch national team at the time, despite the fact he was 62 years old.

Some fans felt that a younger coach with fresh ideas was the way to go, but United’s hierarchy decided otherwise.

“This club has big ambitions. I too have big ambitions,” Van Gaal told reporters following his appointment. “Together I’m sure we will make history.”

He wasn’t able to make history with the Red Devils, unfortunately, and most supporters were left bored to tears by his possession-heavy style of football.

Subsequently, he was sacked after just two seasons in the job, despite winning the FA Cup in his final game in charge.

Jose Mourinho took over from Van Gaal and it’s hard to imagine that too many fans at Old Trafford miss the larger-than-life Dutchman and his turgid style of play.

Where are the 13 players Van Gaal axed on arrival?

When he first arrived at United, Van Gaal axed a total of 13 players – but what happened to them?

Let’s take a closer look…

Alexander Buttner

Van Gaal could find no room in his new squad for compatriot Alexander Buttner when he took the reins at United and duly offloaded the left-back.

The 29-year-old now plies his trade with Dutch outfit Vitesse following a three-year spell with Dynamo Moscow.

Jack Barmby

The son of former England international Nick Barmby, Jack joined Leicester City after being let go by Man Utd but failed to make an appearance for the Foxes.

Instead of helping Leicester win the Premier League in 2016, the versatile midfielder was instead out on loan at MLS side Portland Timbers, who signed him permanently the following year.

Rio Ferdinand

The Man Utd legend decided to continue his career with Queens Park Rangers rather than retire after leaving United. It wasn’t one of his better decisions.

He only made 12 appearances for the London club, who were relegated to the Championship at the end of the campaign. He then retired and has since established himself as one of the best pundits on British television.

Federico Macheda

Famous for his unforgettable winning goal against Aston Villa back in 2009 which propelled him to stardom, Federico Macheda sadly failed to live up to the hype.

The striker had an unsuccessful spell with Cardiff City after leaving United and now plays for Novara in the third tier of Italian football.

Nemanja Vidic

Another United hero who departed following Van Gaal’s arrival, Nemanja Vidic’s career also ended on a rather disappointing note.

The defender, whose formidable centre-back partnership with Rio Ferdinand will always be remembered fondly by the club’s fans, endured a poor two-year spell with Inter Milan before hanging up his boots in 2016.

Charni Ekangamene

Not many United supporters will remember Belgian midfielder Charni Ekangamene, who failed to break into the first team at Old Trafford.

After Van Gaal decided against retaining the youngster’s services, Ekangamene went on to join Zulte Waregem and now plays for KFCO Beerschot Wilrijk in the Belgian second division.

Louis Rowley

Another youngster let go by Van Gaal, Louis Rowley isn’t even involved in football these days.

He joined Leicester City after leaving United but gave it all up to become an accountant – yep, really – at the age of 21.

“I can honestly say with my hand on my heart I have never once doubted the decision I’ve made and I hope to inspire others that there is a life outside of professional sport,” he is quoted as saying on The Speakers Agency website.

Fair play, Louis.

Patrice Evra

Patrice Evra decided to leave United for Juventus following the Red Devils’ £27 million purchase of left-back Luke Shaw from Southampton.

The French defender enjoyed three successful years in Turin before joining Marseille, where his contract was terminated after kicking a fan. The 37-year-old most recently played for West Ham but is currently without a club.


Unquestionably Sir Alex Ferguson’s strangest signing, Bebe somehow sealed a move to Benfica after being sold by Man Utd for £2.4 million in July 2014.

He hardly played for the Portuguese giants, though, and joined Eibar in 2016 following loan spells with Cordoba and Rayo Vallecano. The 28-year-old is still with the La Liga side and is a pretty handy player these days.

Shinji Kagawa

Many United fans were disappointed when Shinji Kagawa was allowed to re-join Borussia Dortmund after Van Gaal’s arrival.

The Japanese playmaker was a talented footballer but, for one reason or another, it never quite happened for him at Old Trafford.

Now 29, Kagawa is still a key player for both BVB and Japan.

Tom Lawrence

Tom Lawrence was handed his Man Utd debut by interim boss Ryan Giggs at the end of the 2013-14 campaign against Hull City – but he never played for the Red Devils again.

The Wales international joined Leicester City but was loaned out to several clubs in the Football League including Blackburn, Cardiff and Ipswich, where he won Player’s Player of the Season following an outstanding campaign.

He joined Derby County last summer and is now being coached by Chelsea legend Frank Lampard.

Danny Welbeck

After Van Gaal made it clear that Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and loan signing Radamel Falcao were above him in the pecking order, Danny Welbeck left Old Trafford in a £16 million deal for Arsenal.

The 27-year-old’s time at the Emirates Stadium has been blighted by injuries but he remains a dangerous player when fit.

Davide Petrucci

A player tipped for big things during his teenage years, Davide Petrucci failed to make the grade at United and was offloaded to Romanian side CFR Cluj following Van Gaal’s arrival.

The former Italy Under-21 international, who turns 27 in October, joined Caykur Rizespor in 2016 and is still with the Turkish club today.

Should Van Gaal have kept any of these players? Let us know below.

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