What's happened to eight players that Manchester United have signed from the Football League

Manchester United’s recruitment in the summer transfer window left Jose Mourinho wanting more.

The Red Devils brought in just three players – Diogo Dalot from Porto, Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk and Lee Grant, signed from Stoke City.

Mourinho was desperate for a new centre-back but he had to go without.

If you had said to the 55-year-old at the start of the summer that Grant, who arrived on July 3, would be his final signing, he probably wouldn’t have believed you.

But that’s the way things went for United. With the club already 12 points behind Manchester City, they must regret not doing more.

Grant was brought in as a backup to David de Gea and Sergio Romero, arriving from Stoke City after the Potters’ relegation to the Championship.

He isn’t the first player that Man United signed from a Football League club, though.

Man United’s Football League signings

GiveMeSport takes a look at eight players that the Red Devils brought in from the lower leagues – and where they are now.

Nick Powell

Current club: Wigan Athletic

Powell arrived at Man United as a highly-rated 18-year-old from Crewe Alexandra in 2012.

Sir Alex Ferguson described the centre-forward as an “exceptional talent” upon his signing, and things would get even better when he scored on his senior debut against Wigan.

Powell would spend time away from the club, joining Wigan, Leicester and Hull on loan, before being released by Man United in June 2016.

He was signed by Wigan and helped the club achieve promotion back to the Championship last season.

Wilfried Zaha

Current club: Crystal Palace

Man United completed a deal to sign Zaha from Palace in January 2013, loaning him back to the club for the remainder of the 2012-13 Championship campaign.

But Zaha’s time at Old Trafford was miserable. He made his debut in the Community Shield in August but had to wait until December to make his first appearance in the Premier League.

After falling out of favour with David Moyes, Zaha joined Cardiff City on loan in January 2014.

He returned to Crystal Palace in 2014 without having scored for Man United – and to be fair to him, it was a great decision to leave the high life.

Zaha has been exceptional for Palace, winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Reece James

Current club: Sunderland

James, who signed for Man United from Preston North End in 2012, joined the club’s senior players on their pre-season tour of the United States in 2014.

There might have been some excitement about the defender after he scored twice in a 7-0 win against LA Galaxy.

He made his first-team debut in the embarrassing 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in 2014 – and that was to be his only appearance.

Loan spells at Carlisle United, Rotherham United and Huddersfield Town would follow.

He signed a permanent deal with Wigan in 2015 and now finds himself at Sunderland, who signed him on a one-year deal in July 2018.

Michael Owen

Current club: Retired

Newcastle were relegated to the second-tier of English football at the end of the 2008-09 season and among the players to leave was Michael Owen.

He was signed to a pay-as-you-play deal and, over the course of three seasons, enjoyed some great moments.

There was the injury-time winner in the Manchester derby in 2009, and the hat-trick in the Champions League against Wolfsburg.

Owen left in 2012 and joined Stoke City. The 2012-13 season, in which he scored just once, would be his final campaign as a professional.

Alan Smith

Current club: Retired

Man United swooped to sign Smith when Leeds United were relegated from the top flight in 2004.

He scored on his debut in the Community Shield against Arsenal and would make 42 appearances in total in his first season for the club.

Sir Alex Ferguson dreamed of turning Smith into the next Roy Keane but it didn’t materialise that way, in part due to a number of injury problems.

He broke his leg and dislocated his ankle while attempting to block a free-kick from Liverpool’s John Arne Riise in 2006. Ferguson would describe the injury as “one of the worst I’ve seen”.

Smith signed for Newcastle in 2007, making over 90 appearances for the club.

He finished his career in the Football League, playing Milton Keynes Dons and Notts County.

The 38-year-old recently announced his retirement.

Lee Grant

Current club: Manchester United

The 35-year-old Grant arrived at Man United knowing that he wouldn’t see much action in the first team.

But the chance to belong to such a big club was hard to turn down.

Stoke finished 19th in the Premier League table last season and, already behind Jack Butland in the pecking order, Grant decided to move on.

Jose Mourinho said upon his signing: “We’ve known Lee for a long time, he has experience in the Championship, also with Stoke City in the Premier League, he’s more than ready to fulfil that position and allow the development of Joel [Pereira].”

Tomasz Kuszczak

Current club: Birmingham City

After West Bromwich Albion were relegated to the Championship in 2006, they offloaded Kuszczak to Man United.

Fans might remember his name being spelled incorrectly in his first start for the club, with “Zuszczak” appearing on the back of his shirt against in a League Cup tie against Crewe.

He was Edwin van der Sar’s backup, making a total of 61 appearances before moving on.

The Polish goalkeeper joined Watford on loan in February 2012 and he was released by Man United at the end of the campaign.

He spent two seasons as the number one ‘keeper at Brighton & Hove Albion.

He then joined Wolves for one season.

Birmingham signed him in 2015 and he’s been the first-choice ever since.

Andy Kellett

Current club: Notts County

In a rather unexpected move, Man United signed Kellett on loan from Bolton for the second half of the 2014-15 season.

Kellett had just spent three months on loan at Plymouth Argyle, and only had one senior Bolton appearance to his name, when the Red Devils came calling.

“He hadn’t got a clue. He was on his way to Plymouth. He thought I was winding him up,” then-Bolton manager Neil Lennon said at the time.

Yet Kellett only appearanced for Man United’s Under-21s, making 10 appearances before returning to Bolton.

He signed for Wigan in 2015 and, after spending the 2017-18 season on loan at Chesterfield, was signed by Notts County in May 2018.

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