Manchester United: Ranking every midfielder since 2012 ahead of Donny van de Beek’s arrival

  • Rob Swan

Donny van de Beek is poised to become Manchester United’s first summer signing.

The 23-year-old will, according to various reliable reports, put pen to paper on a long-term contract with the Red Devils after completing a £40 million switch from Ajax.

United fans have reacted positively to the news of Van de Beek’s imminent arrival and remain hopeful that a few more new faces will arrive before the transfer window closes on October 5.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to add another top centre-back to his squad and has identified RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano as a potential defensive partner for Harry Maguire.

Real Madrid left-back Sergio Reguilon is also a target, while Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho is the player every United fan wants to see at Old Trafford.

Ahead of Van de Beek’s arrival, we thought we’d rank all United’s midfield signings since 2012 – Sir Alex Ferguson’s final summer as the club’s manager.


14. Nick Powell

Signed from Crewe Alexandra for £6 million in July 2012, there was a time Nick Powell was being spoken about as a potential successor for Paul Scholes.

Unfortunately, the central midfielder was nowhere near Scholes’s class and only managed nine appearances for the Red Devils, scoring one goal.

Powell currently plies his trade for Stoke City.


13. Bastian Schweinsteiger

Man Utd’s board and Louis van Gaal should have known back in July 2015 that signing Bastian Schweinsteiger for just £6.5 million was too good to be true.

Needless to say, there was a very good reason why Bayern Munich were keen to offload the World Cup winner: his legs had gone.

Schweinsteiger was miles over the hill by the time he rocked up at Old Trafford but still scored two goals in 35 appearances.


12. Morgan Schneiderlin

After impressing in the Premier League with Southampton, the £25 million signing of Morgan Schneiderlin looked a shrewd purchase in the summer of 2015.

But the step up from Southampton to Man Utd was too much for the Frenchman, who looked out of his depth at times.

Jose Mourinho offloaded the Van Gaal signing to Everton in January 2017.


11. Shinji Kagawa

Things might have been different for Shinji Kagawa had Fergie stayed beyond the summer of 2013.

The Japan international netted six goals in 26 games under Ferguson but failed to score in 30 (mostly substitute) appearances under David Moyes during the 2013-14 campaign.

Van Gaal had little interest in seeing what Kagawa was about and subsequently sold the playmaker back to Borussia Dortmund in August 2014.


10. Angel Di Maria

It’s a huge shame that things didn’t work out for Angel Di Maria at Old Trafford.

A world-class footballer, Di Maria was excellent for Real Madrid and has been fantastic over the past five years for Paris Saint-Germain.

But Van Gaal was totally the wrong coach for the Argentina international, while an attempted burglary at his home left him and his young family traumatised.

After that happened, his departure was a question if when, rather than if.


9. Daniel James

The jury is still out over Daniel James, who hit the ground running at Old Trafford following his move from Swansea City before struggling.

The lad is only 22 so it would be unfair to write him off just yet, but the Wales international will be under pressure to prove that he can hack it at the highest level during the 2020-21 season.


8. Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Henrikh Mkhitaryan produced some good moments in a Man Utd shirt – including *that* incredible scorpion kick goal against Sunderland at Old Trafford – during his debut campaign.

But the Armenian was a big disappointment in his second season and ended up being offloaded to Arsenal as part of the ill-fated deal for Alexis Sanchez in January 2018.


7. Marouane Fellaini

Marouane Fellaini was not a Manchester United-type player but Moyes was a big fan and brought the Belgium international to Old Trafford during his first transfer window in the summer of 2013.

Somehow, Fellaini lasted five-and-a-half seasons with the Red Devils, scoring 22 goals in 177 games.

He always gave his all and chipped in with some important goals but United fans were relieved to see him leave for Shandong Luneng in 2019.


6. Fred

Fred looked like a competition winner at times during his first season at Old Trafford before silencing his doubters during the 2019-20 campaign with some impressive performances.

The Brazilian, however, may find himself on the bench more often when Van de Beek arrives.


5. Nemanja Matic

When he’s been good, he’s been great. When he’s been bad, he’s been dreadful.

Nemanja Matic has been decent, on the whole, but not £40 million decent.

Like Fellaini, Matic doesn’t feel like your classic United midfielder.


4. Ander Herrera

An intelligent player who worked tirelessly, Ander Herrera was also a leader on the pitch.

This is why Man Utd fans were so disappointed to see the Spaniard leave for PSG in 2019.

Herrera scored 20 goals in 189 games.


3. Juan Mata

Overall, Mata has been a good signing for Man Utd.

That said, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that United fans expected more from the Spaniard when he completed a shock move from Chelsea in January 2014.

Mata was exceptional at Stamford Bridge but has been unable to replicate the same performance-levels on a consistent basis in Manchester.


2. Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba continues to divide opinion but there’s no doubt the Frenchman possesses world-class talent.

It’s now four years since the World Cup winner returned to Old Trafford in a deal worth £89 million and during that time he’s scored 32 goals in 157 games.

The 2020-21 campaign, with Van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes alongside him in midfield, will be massive for him.


1. Bruno Fernandes

Fernandes has been a Man Utd player for less than 12 months but the Portugal international is undoubtedly the club’s best midfield signing of the past eight years.

Bruno transformed the Red Devils following his arrival from Sporting Lisbon, helping the Premier League club secure a third-place finish which seemed incredibly unlikely months earlier.

If Van de Beek can make half the impact Bruno has, United will have another top midfielder on their hands.

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