Manchester United have long had a reputation for being big spenders in the transfer market.
Being England’s biggest club has its privileges and benefitting from a rather large war-chest is most certainly one of them.
Since the emergence of the Premier League era and the explosion of commercial rights deals, Man United haven’t been scared to splash the cash on big money transfers as they bid to sign the world’s finest talent.
The Red Devils have broken the British transfer record on no less than seven occasions since 1992, with the signings named below:
Roy Keane (Nottingham Forest, 1993 – £7.65 million), Andy Cole (Newcastle, 1995 – £8.64 million), Ruud van Nistelrooy (PSV Eindhoven, 2001- £25.65 million), Juan Sebastian Veron (Lazio, 2001 – £38.34 million), Rio Ferdinand (Leeds, 2002 – £41.40 million), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid, 2014 – £67.50 million) and Paul Pogba (Juventus, 2016 – £94.50 million).
In fact, despite Manchester City’s recent riches, United are the only Premier League club to have a net spend of over one billion in the last decade.
But monetary investment doesn’t necessarily guarantee success on the pitch, does it?
We saw the perfect example of that on Saturday, as United fell to an abysmal 4-0 loss at the hands of Brighton Hove Albion.
It’s well documented that many of those expensive signings have aged like a bottle of milk left out to dry in the Dubai sun.
So, we thought it would be worth revisiting many of the deals and ranking them from the very worst, to the best of the best.
For clarification, we are ranking the players who were signed by United for a fee of £40 million or more. All transfer fees are courtesy of transfermarkt.
Manchester United’s most expensive signings ranked
12. Angel Di Maria – £67.50m
The Argentine was widely regarded to be one of the best in the world when he made his big money switch from Real Madrid.
His time in Manchester swiftly put a stop to that idea. The one benefit in Di Maria’s case was that when he moved on to PSG, United somehow managed to recoup nearly all his transfer fee.
11. Nemanja Matic – £40.23m
Had built a solid reputation at Chelsea as a formidable no-nonsense defensive midfielder, but has achieved practically nothing of note at Old Trafford and performance levels have dropped off a cliff.
10. Fred – £53.10m
It was almost comical how bad Fred was when he signed from Shaktar Donestsk for a staggering sum of £53 million.
The Brazilian has since found some form, but has a long way to go yet if he wants to justify his price tag.
9. Jadon Sancho – £76.50m
Sancho’s impact has been non-existent in his United career to date. The exciting English prospects gets the nod at number nine simply for what he could go on to achieve at the club.
8. Anthony Martial – £54.00m
“Anthony Martial welcome to the Premier League!”, screamed Martin Tyler on his debut game against Liverpool.
That moment proved to be the peak in his United career, as the Frenchman eventually failed to live up to the hype. He donned the gloves like the famous Thierry Henry, but his impact was more David N’Gog when you look at it objectively.
7. Harry Maguire – £78.30m
If we were making this judgement over a single season then Maguire would potentially come in dead last. The former Sheffield United lad did perform decently well in the early stages after his transfer, and he was even granted the club captaincy.
However, a catastrophic drop-off in form has left the skipper fumbling for confidence and he’ll need to do a lot to get his career back on track at this stage.
6. Aaron Wan-Bissaka – £49.50m
Another one that enjoyed a solid start to his career in red, but has dropped off this season. Wan-Bissaka was at one point being touted as England best right-back by some, although, you would be hard pressed to find anyone that would suggest he would be even close to the conversation now.
5. Romelu Lukaku – £76.23m
Inconsistent would be the best way to describe Lukaku’s time at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’.
On one hand, 42 goals in 96 games is hardly a poor record. But when he was bad, he was awful, and so he represents yet another big money signing that failed to live up to expectation.
4. Paul Pogba – £94.50m
A fabulous player that should have gone onto achieve so much more at Old Trafford. Things haven’t ended well for Pogba and he most likely won’t be fondly remembered amongst supporters, but the Frenchman has shown flashes of brilliance throughout his time with the club.
The question now will forever be what could have been…
3. Juan Mata – £40.26m
How Mata has managed a podium place we aren’t quite sure. The Spaniard has given United fans some joy over the years – his spectacular overhead kick against Liverpool instantly springs to mind – but in truth, he should have left the club three years ago.
2. Bruno Fernandes – £56.70m
An absolute revelation in his first full season, scoring 28 goals and assisting 17 more in all competitions. Fernandes was the driving force behind United’s second place finish in the league.
Since Cristiano Ronaldo joined the team his powers seem to have strangely diminished, but if he can regain his form the Portuguese will surely go on to become a club legend.
- Rio Ferdinand – £41.40m
Ferdinand easily claims top spot on the list. The formidable English centre-back won an incredible six Premier Leagues, three League Cups and a Champions League during his spell at Old Trafford.