Manchester United - My top signings
Words: Laura Hamill
Not every transfer window can be successful for a club. Law of averages - you’re bound to buy a dud player every once in a while. In the last five years, Manchester United have acquired some gems; and a few players that weren’t worth the Youtube video your mate shared of their best skills let alone their transfer fee.
Five years ago, Sir Alex Ferguson was strengthening ahead of what would be his last season, having narrowly lost the Premier League to City the year before. One signing stood above the rest - and for me, is easily the best buy of the last five years - which is of course, Robin Van Persie. Arsenal’s star man swapped the Emirates for Old Trafford and played a massive role in clinching the Premier League title; the all-important 20th for United. He bagged 26 league goals that season: he may not have been the same player once Sir Alex left but he was worth every single penny spent.
David Moyes’s transfer business wasn’t great - a bit like his time as Manchester United manager - but he did snag Chelsea starlet Juan Mata back in 2014. You must be pretty special to have the home of your bitter rivals renamed ‘Juanfield’ and your chant to be ‘Who’s the greatest player in the Premier League?’. The transfer was an elaborate affair to say the least, with Mata arriving suited up and in a helicopter. It was peak but it wouldn’t be enough to keep Moyes in a job. And so, we were on to the next one: Louis Van Gaal.
Love him or hate him, much of the business LVG did during his tenure was strong. He got rid of some dead weight and brought in some signings that are still first team players. Two in particular stand out for me: Dutchman Daley Blind and Argentinian Marcos Rojo. Blind the utility player has to chop and change often, usually covering an injured player. He can play as full-back, centre-back or midfield. This is the kind of player needed at Old Trafford.
Rojo on the other hand, took time to find his feet, but was irreplaceable last season. Sure, he avoids red cards by the skin of his teeth, but he’s one of the stronger players at the back. His knee injury unfortunately cut his season short but I’ve no doubt he’ll take the league by storm when he returns.
Eric Bailly is very easily one of the best signings made in recent times. It’s difficult settling into a new league and the Premier League is renowned for its physicality and demanding schedule. Throw in the AFCON and you've got a busy few months for the defender. Bailly proved his worth and he has even more room to grow.
He isn’t one for bagging in a goal a game but Pogba has shown why he was worth bringing back to Old Trafford with world class passes that would make your eyes water. Take away the fanfare, the haircuts, the Instagrams and the dabbing - Paul Labille Pogba is a star in the making.
But some big name signings weren’t such a good idea. Roll up, Angel di Maria. El Fideo’s time at Manchester United was so unspectacular it could take the cake for worst signing in my living memory; but money did exchange hands for Bebe. Yep, di Maria got that goal against Leicester just in case you forgot - and did almost nothing else. Ashley Young got in the starting eleven ahead of him. Next!
Man like Wilf. Wilfried Zaha oozed potential back at the tail end of Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at Old Trafford but it wasn’t to be. The young player couldn’t catch a break under David Moyes and if you’re one to believe unscrupulous Twitter rumours you will know exactly why. He was offloaded to Crystal Palace permanently (recently signing a new 5 year deal with the club) where he's looking to strengthen his 2016/17 return to form.
Another young player we may have thought would set the world alight was Mr Free Kick himself, Memphis Depay. Once again, the pressure appeared to be too much on this impressionable young player. Depay could barely get a minute of playing time, and when he did, he didn’t exactly use it wisely. Those free kicks? Didn’t make it into his hand luggage when he left the Netherlands. If you’re interested, you can watch him in Ligue 1. The rest of us aren’t.
If only he was signed five years earlier! Then he wouldn’t be anywhere near this list of mine. The former German captain Bastian Schweinsteiger on paper sounded like the perfect deal. His fee wasn’t massive, he was still a well respected player, and more importantly he could teach the younger players a thing or two. What he taught them was an adequately timed social media post because that is what he became known for. But we LOVED it; and he was treated like a king when he was subbed on against West Ham in the FA Cup last year. It was fun while it lasted, Basti (at least, I think it was…) but I’m glad it’s over.
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