A big part of Manchester United’s struggles since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 has been their lack of success in the transfer market.
The club have spent almost £1.6billion over the past decade and while it is too early to write off some of their recent buys, there are only a select few of their 55 signings in that time that have worked out and met their expectations.
Angel di Maria, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku are among those to sign for big money, only for their time at Old Trafford to not work out for a variety of reasons.
United continue to struggle this season and while Rasmus Hojlund has impressed in the Champions League, there will be concerns over big money signings Mason Mount and Andre Onana after their tough starts since arriving at the club.
Mail Sport takes a look at the players United have signed since 2014-15 and rank if they were a hit, a miss or whether the jury is still out.
Manchester United have spent almost £1.6bn over the past decade, though only a handful of signings have worked out
The only player signed in 2014-15 who is still at Old Trafford is Luke Shaw, who has made 262 appearances for the Red Devils.
While he has suffered a number of injuries during his time with the club, and has struggled for form in a number of the 10 seasons he has been at the club, he has been a successful signing for the club.
The big signing of the year was Angel di Maria for £70m. The Argentine World Cup winner struggled to adapt to life at Old Trafford – not helped by an attempted burglary at his home in January 2015.
Di Maria left after just one year and enjoyed greater success during his seven-year stint with Paris Saint-Germain.
Luke Shaw is one of the longest serving players at Old Trafford and despite his struggles in a number of seasons, he can still be seen as a hit of a signing for the Red Devils
While Ander Herrera and Daley Blind were hardly game changers for Manchester United, the Spaniard’s work ethic was appreciated and the Dutchman was a solid player to have due to his ability to play in different positions.
Fans were excited over the loan signing of Radamel Falcao though he failed to hit his goalscoring numbers from Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco.
Marcos Rojo joined the club for £16m but the Red Devils always appeared in vulnerable in defence when he featured.
Hits – Luke Shaw (£31.5m), Ander Herrera (£29m), Daley Blind (£14m)
Misses – Angel Di Maria (£70m), Marcos Rojo (£16m), Radamel Falcao (loan-£6m), Victor Valdes (free), Vanja Milinkovic-Savic (£1.5m)
Manchester United never got the best out of Argentine World Cup winner Angel di Maria
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There was big hopes for £58m signing Anthony Martial who seemed destined for big things after his stunning debut goal against Liverpool.
However, he has only been able to net 89 times for the Red Devils – not bagging over 10 in a season since the 2019-20 campaign.
He is the only player signed for the 2015-16 season who is still at the club, though many would argue he should have left the club a while ago.
Depay came in to replace Di Maria for £25m, yet similarly to the Argentinian, the signing never paid off and he left after in January 2017 for Lyon where he returned to his prior confident self which United saw at PSV Eindhoven.
Bastian Schweinsteiger was clearly past his best by the time he arrived at Old Trafford for £15m, while Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian also struggled.
Sergio Romero joined on a free transfer and was a very capable back-up goalkeeper.
Hit – Sergio Romero (free)
Misses – Anthony Martial (£58m), Morgan Schneiderlin (£25m), Memphis Depay (£25m), Bastian Schweinsteiger (£15m), Matteo Darmian (£13m)
Anthony Martial is still at Old Trafford though it could be argued he should have been sold a number of seasons ago
This was the season that Manchester United paid £89m to bring Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford – just four years after they lost him for nothing to Juventus.
Unfortunately for the Red Devils, they could count the number of Pogba’s truly great performances on one hand and performed well below the level that he showed at Juventus and for the French national team.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan at £26m would also come high up the list of Manchester United’s worst signings over the past decade and they did well to offload him for Arsenal – just a shame about the player who was involved in the exchange deal which we will get on to later.
Eric Bailly seemed to have the potential to become a successful United player at the heart of their defence, though injuries severely limited his game-time with just 20 Premier League appearances across his last three seasons at the club.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined on a free from Paris Saint-Germain and scored 22 goals in 27 games across his first season.
But ultimately he joined too late in his career and his contract was terminated in March 2018, after making just seven appearances in his second season.
Hit – Zlatan Ibrahimovic (free)
Misses – Paul Pogba (£89m), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (£26m), Eric Bailly (£30m)
Paul Pogba’s displays at Man United failed to live up to his performances for the French national team and during his first stint at Juventus
Zlatan Ibrahimovic impressed and United would have wished they had signed him earlier
Victor Lindelof is the only player still at the club that was signed from this year. He regularly struggled alongside Harry Maguire and was relegated to back-up behind Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez last year – though he has benefitted from their injuries this campaign.
The Swedish defender has not done enough to suggest he’s a ‘hit’ and given he’s been at the club for six years he would have to fall into the ‘misses’ category. However, he could yet turn this around.
Romelu Lukaku scored 27 goals in 51 appearances in his first season at Old Trafford following his £75m move.
Despite this he still frustrated United fans, due to his poor touch and lack of involvement during games.
Scoring 42 goals in 96 appearances makes it hard to put him in any ‘flop signing’ category – particularly if you compare to his second stint at Chelsea – but ultimately it was still another poor piece of business given the lack of success United achieved with him up front.
Nemanja Matic joined from Chelsea for £40m but his better days were clearly at Stamford Bridge where he played a big part in two title-winning teams. The game often passed him by during his time at the Red Devils.
This was the season where United arguably signed their biggest flop of the Premier League era in Alexis Sanchez.
Sanchez scored 80 goals in 166 appearances for the Gunners but only netted five goals in 45 games for the Red Devils.
Misses – Romelu Lukaku (£75m), Nemanja Matic (£40m), Victor Lindelof (£39m), Alexis Sanchez (£20m + Mkhitaryan)
Alexis Sanchez could arguably be Manchester United’s worst signing over the past decade
By far United’s quietest year for transfers over the past decade with just three additions – including reserve keeper Lee Grant.
This didn’t help Jose Mourinho who after finishing second the year prior, was sacked in December 2018.
Fred was the big money signing at £52m and he improved over his time at Old Trafford after a difficult start and left on good terms.
The other signing was Diogo Dalot for £19m. The 24-year-old is still at the club but has been in and out of the starting XI throughout his time at Old Trafford.
Despite competition in the full-back positions, his relatively low price tag and his performances under Jose Mourinho and Ten Hag just do enough to make him a hit.
Grant, like Tom Heaton included later, doesn’t make a list as they were never bought with the intention of starting in their role as one of the reserve keepers.
Hits – Fred (£61m), Diogo Dalot (£19m)
Other signings – Lee Grant (free)
Fred improved during his time at Old Trafford and left the club in the summer on good terms
Three players signed during this season are still at the club, with £68m January 2020 signing Bruno Fernandes proving to be their best.
He instantly laid down a marker at Old Trafford, netting 12 goals in 22 appearances in 2019-20, before scoring 28 in 58 during his first full season at the club.
Though he has failed to hit those numbers in recent years, and there have been questions over whether he is the right man to captain United, there’s a strong argument to suggest he is their best signing over the last decade.
Harry Maguire signed for a staggering £80m from Leicester and was quickly made club captain just six months into his debut season.
Bruno Fernandes attracts criticism but has been one of United’s best signings over the last ten years
The England defender though has come under constant scrutiny following his poor performances in recent year, which led to Erik ten Hag stripping him of the captaincy.
He looked certain to leave in the summer but decided to stay on and though United have again struggled this season, Maguire has looked better than recent years – though there are still big question marks over his future.
The other big signing was Aaron Wan-Bissaka for £50m. The right-back like many players suffered a big drop-off in form during a terrible 2021-22 season, but improved under Erik ten Hag last campaign.
For the moment, Wan-Bissaka is a borderline ‘hit’ on our list, while Maguire is in the ‘misses’ – though that could change for both players by the time they leave Old Trafford.
Hits – Bruno Fernandes (£68m) Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£50m)
Misses – Harry Maguire (£80m), Dan James (£15m), Odion Ighalo (loan-£10m)
Harry Maguire would currently be classed as a ‘miss’ though could yet turn that around
Another poor summer of recruitment for the Red Devils. Donny van de Beek was the big signing at £40m, but his performances have never lived up the potential he showed at Ajax.
Alex Telles failed to make his mark and left for Saudi Arabia in the summer while Edinson Cavani, similarly to Ibrahimovic, impressed in his first season after his free transfer only to struggle for chances in his second campaign and leave the club.
The jury is still out on Amad Diallo who joined the club for £37m and Facundo Pellistri (who arrived for £15.4m).
Diallo spent the last two seasons out on loan at Rangers and Sunderland and is currently recovering from injury while Pellistri made his competitive debut in January this year, and the 21-year-old is mainly seen as a bench option at this moment in time.
Hits – Edinson Cavani (free)
Misses – Donny van de Beek (£40m) and Alex Telles (£15.4m)
Jury’s out – Amad Diallo (£37m) and Facundo Pellistri (£9m)
Donny van de Beek has struggled to live up to the promise he showed at Ajax with Man United
This was the season Manchester United finally signed Jadon Sancho, with high hopes for the England international after his £73m move from Borussia Dortmund.
But seemingly like every big money attacking signing over the past decade, Sancho’s performances have not justified his price tag.
His career at Old Trafford looks to be all but over, following a public disagreement with Ten Hag has left him on the sidelines and unlikely to return any time soon.
Raphael Varane joined for £42m from Real Madrid and has improved United defensively, but his injuries are a cause for concern and their struggles on-the-pitch mean he is unlikely to achieve anywhere near the same success he enjoyed at Los Blancos.
While Cristiano Ronaldo was undoubtedly a ‘hit’ for his first spell at Old Trafford, his second spell ended on a sour note
Cristiano Ronaldo’s dream return proved to be a nightmare, despite him scoring 24 goals in his first season back at the club in a season they finished sixth in the standings.
He was dropped to the bench by Ten Hag in 2022-23 and would often show his frustration with how things were going.
This led to his famous interview with Piers Morgan – which ultimately led to his departure in November 2022 by mutual termination.
Hit – Raphael Varane (£42m)
Misses – Jadon Sancho (£73m), Cristiano Ronaldo (£19.8m), Tom Heaton (free)
Jadon Sancho has been sidelined following a public falling-out with manager Erik ten Hag
United’s busiest year in terms of transfers came in Ten Hag’s first season with the club – with nine additions to the club.
Antony joined for a massive £85.5m from Ajax, but at current rate, he is heading for the same path as the likes of Pogba, Lukaku, Martial among others, who fail to live up to their big money price-tag. However, the Brazilian is still only 23 and has time to improve.
Despite questions over spending £70m on a player in his 30s, Casemiro has undoubtedly improved United’s midfield. The same can be said for Lisandro Martinez in defence at £57m.
Tyrell Malacia has shown promise, while Christian Eriksen has become a solid squad player for the Red Devils.
Despite Antony’s struggles, the additions of Casemiro and Martinez arguably make this United’s best year in terms of signing – even if it’s not saying much.
Hits – Casemiro (£70m), Lisandro Martinez (£57m), Tyrell Malacia (£14.7m), Marcel Sabitzer (loan) and Christian Eriksen (free),
Misses – Wout Weghorst (loan, £2.6m)
Jury’s out – Antony (£85.5m)
Other signings – Martin Dubravka (loan, £2m), Jack Butland (loan)
Antony has struggled at Manchester United but is still young enough to turn things around
Time will tell on Manchester United’s signings of the most recent summer transfer window.
Rasmus Hojlund has shown promise in the Champions League of what he could deliver in the future, even if he is still searching for his first Premier League goal.
However, there are already concerns over £60m signing Mason Mount and £47m addition Andre Onana.
England international Mount already appears to be nothing more than a bench option which is not what United spent £60m for, while Onana has made a number of mistakes in goal after replacing David de Gea.
Ten Hag will be hoping his signings this past summer will quickly get to speed at Old Trafford, rather than be the latest examples of why United’s spending over the past decade has been dire.
Jury’s out – Rasmus Hojlund (£72m), Mason Mount (£60m), Andre Onana (£47m), Sofyan Amrabat (loan, £8.5m), Altay Bayindir (£4.3m), Jonny Evans (free), Sergio Reguillon (loan)
Mason Mount is heading towards the ‘misses’ list unless he can work his way back into the starting XI
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