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Manchester United’s Ten Most Expensive Signings Ranked

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 31: Wayne Rooney poses for photographs with a Manchester United scarf after signing for Manchester United on August 31, 2004 at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

With Manchester United reportedly willing to pay as much as £100m to re-sign French international Paul Pogba, that deal would emphatically smash their current transfer record.

The current record stands at £59.7m, the figure paid to Real Madrid in exchange for Ángel Di María in 2014.

While that particular deal did not work out, Manchester United’s record with spending large amounts of money on individuals is solid (if not spectacular).

Interestingly, of the top ten most expensive signings the club have made, five of them came between 2013 and 2015 (with Eric Bailly arriving this summer). Manchester United looked to recover from loss of Sir Alex Ferguson by opening the chequebook, but despite assembling one of the most expensive squads ever, they regressed under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

Nonetheless, here are the top ten, ranked in order of success rather than fee:


10. Ángel Di María – £59.7m (2014)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28: Angel di Maria of Manchester United walks with manager Louis van Gaal ahead of a press conference to unveil him at Old Trafford on August 28, 2014 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)

With Louis van Gaal arriving at the club the same summer, many Man United fans were hopeful of a new era, and when Argentine superstar Di María joined for a club-record fee it seemed that the year of Moyes was to be a blip on the constant pursuit of glory.

However, it did not quite work out that way. Although he started brightly, his form fell away dramatically as the season wore on. His style of play simply didn’t lend itself to Van Gaal’s own philosophy, and the nadir came when he was dropped for Marouane Fellaini midway through the season.

20 Premier League starts later, he was sold to Paris Saint-Germain for £44m. In what could be seen as a massive indictment of Van Gaal, Di María has since found his form again in France.


9. Juan Sebastián Verón – £28.1m (2001)


“Verón is a f**king great player…you’se are all f**king idiots”

Alex Ferguson’s staunch defence of his record signing in the face of media scrutiny said more than it intended to. The Argentine international was struggling, and everybody knew it.

Having been used to the Italian game, the Premier League proved too fast for Verón and he struggled massively to adapt to the change in pace. His second season at Old Trafford wasn’t much of an improvement, and when Chelsea offered £15m for the midfielder in 2003, Ferguson showed little hesitation in offloading the misjudged signing.

He made 82 appearances for the club in all competitions, scoring eleven goals, Somehow, his spell at Chelsea proved to be even more of a disaster and he returned to Serie A the following season.

8. Marouane Fellaini – £27m (2013)

Manchester United's newly signed Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini poses with his shirt during a photo call at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England on September 13, 2013. Fellaini became Moyes first United signing for a fee of 27.5 million GBP (32.7 million Euros). AFP PHOTO/ANDREW YATES

Had Manchester United signed Fellaini in July, he would have cost the club £23m as per his release clause. Instead, he became David Moyes’ panic buy in the last hours of the transfer window, for £4m more.

That pretty much set the tone for Fellaini’s Old Trafford career. He has never really settled at the club, with many of the opinion that he is of a lower standard than that which is required of a Man United player. His habit of elbowing opponents is also infuriating, and is going to cost both him and the club dearly one day.

Having (somehow) been a Louis van Gaal favourite, it will be interesting to see how José Mourinho utilises him – although the likelihood is that he will be sold.

7. Eric Bailly – £30m (2016)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 13: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Eric Bailly of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Aon Training Complex on July 13, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)

Leapfrogs Fellaini in the list by virtue of the fact that he is not disliked yet, nonetheless £30m is a lot to spend on a 22-year-old central defender with less than 50 senior appearances under his belt.

The former Villarreal defender was José Mourinho’s first (and so far, most expensive) signing at Manchester United, so the new manager obviously sees a bright future for Bailly. Time will tell if he proves to be worth the significant investment.

6. Luke Shaw – £30m (2014)

Luis van Gaal, the new manager for Manchester United and the former manager of the Dutch National team, and new signing Luke Shaw address the media prior to practice for the Chevrolet Cup to be played between Manchester United and the LA Galaxy. The match will be the first encounter between the two clubs and ail be played at the historic Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Paul Mounce/Corbis via Getty Images)

Big things were (and still are, to be fair) expected of Shaw having made the £30m switch to Old Trafford in 2014. However, injuries have so far blighted his time at the club. In particular, a broken leg suffered in a Champions League match back in September ruled him out for the rest of the season.

The 21-year-old has only made 28 appearances for Man United in his two years at the club, but if he can recover and maintain his fitness then he could be a fixture in their defence for years to come.

5. Ander Herrera – £28.85m (2014)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (PREMIUM PRICING APPLIES) (MINIMUM PRINT/BROADCAST FEE OF GBP 150, ONLINE FEE OF GBP 75 PER IMAGE, OR LOCAL EQUIVALENT) Manchester United's Sir Bobby Charlton unveils new signing Ander Herrera at the AON Training Complex on June 25, 2014 in Manchester, England. (Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)

Having seen a £24m bid rejected by Athletic Bilbao in 2013, Man United came calling again the following summer and this time successfully got their man.

However, it has not been all plain sailing for Herrera. He struggled to hold down a first-team place under Louis van Gaal, and the general consensus is that the 26-year-old underperformed when he really needed to have a big season last year.

He has shown flashes of becoming the player that Man United thought he was, but will need to improve.

The Paul Scholes comparisons have become more quiet, and he is one that will either sink or swim under Mourinho. If he kicks on, he will become a linchpin of the side – if not, then this season could be his last at Old Trafford.

4. Dimitar Berbatov – £30.75m (2008)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 1: (MINIMUM USAGE FEE APPLIES - GBP250.00) Dimitar Berbatov poses with Sir Alex Ferguson and a Manchester United scarf after signing for the club at Old Trafford on September 1, 2008 in Manchester, England. (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Dimitar Berbatov is an odd one. On some levels, his four year spell at the club can be considered a success, but some Manchester United fans still regard the Bulgarian striker’s time at the club as a flop.

Having stolen him right from under Manchester City’s noses on deadline day in 2008, Man United expected Berbatov to be the clinical finisher that would help Alex Ferguson’s side maintain their place at the pinnacle of European football.

However, his lethargic displays led to accusations that he simply did not care enough about the club – culminating in his dropping for the 2011 Champions League final.

He left the club for Fulham in 2012 with a final return of 49 goals in 156 games in all competitions – not bad but not earth-shattering either. For what it’s worth, Ferguson does not regard Berbatov as a flop.

3. Juan Mata – £37.1m (2014)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) (PREMIUM PRICING APPLIES - MINIMUM PRINT/BROADCAST FEE OF GBP 150, ONLINE FEE OF GBP 75 USE OR LOCAL EQUIVALENT) Juan Mata (R) of Manchester United poses with Manchester United Manager David Moyes after signing his contract with the club at Aon Training Complex on January 25, 2014 in Manchester, England. (Photo by John Peters/Man Utd via Getty Images)

José Mourinho may not be his biggest fan, but there can be little doubt that Juan Mata has made a big impact at Manchester United in his two-and-a-half years at Old Trafford.

Signed for a then-record £37.1m in January (from Mourinho’s Chelsea), Mata scored six goals in his first fifteen games at the club, and was one of the few bright spots in David Moyes’ miserable reign.

Under Louis van Gaal, his form dipped (as was the case with almost every other player) and it ultimately cost him a place in the Spanish national squad for the European Championships. That said, when he wasn’t being played out of position by Van Gaal he looked lively and a constant threat to opposition defences.

Capable of flourishing in the right setup, he faces a huge battle to convince Mourinho not to sell him for the second time in less than three years.

2. Rio Ferdinand – £30m (2002)

MANCHESTER - JULY 22: Alex Ferguson, the manager of Manchester United, shares a laugh with new signing Rio Ferdinand at a press conference at Old Trafford, Manchester, England on July 22, 2002. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

In 2002, Rio Ferdinand became the world’s most expensive defender for a second time when he joined Man United from Leeds for £30m. In twelve years at Old Trafford, Ferdinand would go on to prove that fee to be something of a bargain.

The centre-back made over 450 appearances for the club as he turned into one of the best defenders in the world, in particular striking up an impenetrable partnership with Nemanja Vidic for the best part of a decade. His command of the box was second-to-none, and was vital in the successes of Alex Ferguson’s sides throughout that decade.

In a remarkably foolish move, Man United allowed both players to leave in the same summer (2014), and in truth have still not been able to replace either.

1. Wayne Rooney – £26m (2004)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 31: Wayne Rooney poses for photographs with a Manchester United scarf after signing for Manchester United on August 31, 2004 at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Wayne Rooney burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old with Everton in 2002, and when he became one of the stars of England’s Euro 2016 campaign, it seemed certain that Man United would ramp up their interest in the young forward.

A Champions League hat-trick against Fenerbahce was the perfect way to announce his arrival, and over the next decade he went on to consolidate his position as one of the best forwards to have ever played for the club.

Though he has been on the wane for the past few years, there was a time when he could legitimately be called one of the best strikers in the world. He is still expected to become Man United’s all-time top goalscorer this season – he only needs five more to beat Bobby Charlton’s record of 249.

He has not always enjoyed the best relationship with the Old Trafford fans, but the return the club has received for their investment twelve years ago has been vast.

Though he attempted to reinvent himself as a midfielder last season, José Mourinho has made it quite clear that Rooney will be a forward in his team – though whether that is as a starter remains to be seen.

One of Manchester United’s best ever signings, and certainly their best ever big-money investment.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.