Ranked: Every Manchester United signing since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement

Ranked: Every Manchester United signing since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement

It’s been four years since Sir Alex Ferguson hung up his wristwatch and finally called time on his tenure as Manchester United manager.

Since then, two managers have come and gone (three including Ryan Giggs’ tenure as caretaker) with Jose Mourinho arriving to take charge in the summer of 2016 after the disappointing reigns of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

Over the course of the eight transfer windows that have followed on from Sir Alex’s retirement, Old Trafford has seen 26 players signed, either permanently or on loan, with mixed results. Those who have thrived are already well on their way to becoming cult heroes.

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A sizeable number of recruits still linger in the purgatory of success and failure having struggled to break through into the first team without condemning themselves entirely, either by virtue of being young enough to have age on their side to turn it around or a need for cover in their position.

Other signings have already show enough to be declared ill-conceived misadventures in the transfer market at best or absolute dross at worst.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14: Sir Alex Ferguson the manager of Great Britain and Ireland waves to the fans during the David Beckham Match for Children in aid of UNICEF between Great Britain & Ireland and Rest of the World at Old Trafford on November 14, 2015 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

All 26 of Manchester United’s signings since the retirement of Sir Alex in 2013 have been ranked below, from the biggest flops to the players who have stuck around to become integral members of the first team.

26 – Vanja Milinkovic-Savic

Signed: August 2014

League appearances: 0

The highly-rated, Spain-born Serbian goalkeeper didn’t last long at Old Trafford.

After being signed in the summer of August 2014, the teeanger’s application for a work permit was denied and the club were forced to sell him on.

Bottom of the list, not as a slight against his quality, but due to technical reasons that effectively meant that Milinkovic-Savic was never truly a United player. A post-Sir Alex signing that was never completed.

25 – Sadiq El Fitouri

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Sadiq El Fitouri of Chesterfield in action during the Sky Bet League One match between Northampton Town and Chesterfield at Sixfields on February 11, 2017 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Signed: January 2015

League appearances: 0

Purchased from Salford City, the club part-owned and overseen by the “Class of 92”, the young Libyan international was released by United in January 2017 and joined soon-to-be relegated Chesterfield in League One, who dropped down into League Two after finishing bottom of the English third tier.

24 – Victor Valdes

Signed: January 2015

League appearances: 2

A six-time winner of La Liga and three-time European champion with Barcelona, the arrival of Valdes as a high-end back-up goalkeeper to David De Gea – and a potential replacement to his countryman as Real Madrid lay in wait to make a move for the Spaniard – was a source of excitement for fans.

However, the veteran shot-stopper quickly fell out with noted disciplinarian Louis van Gaal after he complained about turning out for the reserves. A distracting sideshow of a signing rather than the asset to the squad he should have been.

23 – Saidy Janko

DUBLIN, IRELAND - JULY 30: Saidy Janko of Celtic during the International Champions Cup series match between Barcelona and Celtic at Aviva Stadium on July 30, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Signed: September 2013

League appearances: 0

A highly-rated young full-back signed by David Moyes in his first season as manager, the Swiss under-21 international never managed to make a league appearance before he was sent on loan to Bolton Wanderers in 2015 and then sold to Celtic that same year.

He is now at Barnsley for the season, again on loan – a decent young player making his way in the game, just never good enough for United.

22 – Radamel Falcao

Signed: September 2014

League appearances: 26

In 2014, United signed the striker known as El Tigre on loan for the season from Monaco. Unfortunately, the Colombian proved to be a tiger that had lost its bite in the Premier League, and while he may have rehabilitated himself back in France of late, he was poor during his stay in England.

He endeared himself to some sections of the club’s support with his work rate to try and turn it around but given his wages, the cost of loaning him from Monaco and the immense levels of expectation over signing one of the most renowned goalscorers in world football, Falcao flopped big time.

21 – Andy Kellett

WIGAN, ENGLAND- DECEMBER 14: Paul Dummett of Newcastle United and Andy Kellett of Wigan Athletic in action during the Sky Bet Championship match between Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United at DW Stadium on December 14, 2016 in Wigan, England (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Signed: February 2015

League appearances: 0

The sort of transfer that is common place in continental football but rare in England. Kellett was brought in on loan for half a season from Bolton to help fill a gap in the United reserve squad. He played his part well and returned to his parent club in the summer of 2015. A year later, he joined Wigan Athletic on a permanent basis. For United, Kellett did exactly what was asked of him. No more, no less.

20 – Regan Poole

HERNING, DENMARK - FEBRUARY 17: Regan Poole of Manchester United warms up during a training session ahead of the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match between FC Midtjylland and Manchester United at Herning MCH Multi Arena on February 17, 2016 in Herning, Denmark. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Signed: September 2015

League appearances: 0

A teenager signed from Newport County after making 15 appearances for the Welsh club, Poole made his first-team debut off the bench to replace Ander Herrera in United’s 5-1 win over FC Midtjylland in the Europa League in 2016.

He is yet to feature in the Premier League but is a regular player at youth level. Still only 18, it will be some time before Poole’s quality as a signing can truly be considered.

19 – Morgan Schneiderlin

Signed: July 2015

League appearances: 32

Now an Everton player, the Frenchman sank without a trace under Jose Mourinho but before joining United he was rated as one of the very best defensive midfielders in the Premier League at Southampton.

Yet after a middling first season under Louis van Gaal, he struggled to get a game at Old Trafford. He wasn’t quite good enough on the ball to replace Michael Carrick, lacked the bite to step into Ander Herrera’s role and was nowhere near close to competing with Paul Pogba or even Marouane Fellaini as a source of creativity or chaos. Player without a purpose.

18 – Memphis Depay

Signed: July 2015

League appearances: 33

A major disappointment who arrived at Old Trafford with a superstar reputation after dominating the Eredivisie, the Dutchman has since moved on the Lyon and is flying in France, back in a team prepared to give him the platform to be a shot-happy leading man. A big fish who needed a smaller pond.

17 – Bastian Schweinsteiger

Signed: July 2015

League appearances: 18

Reunited with his former Bayern Munich manager, Louis van Gaal, Bastian Schweinsteiger was supposed to come in and show United’s players how it was done with regards to getting the best out of his old boss’ much vaunted “philosophy”.

However, after being ruled of through injury, and regularly travelling back to Germany to seek treatment and spend time with his then fiancee – now wife – Ana Ivanovic, his work ethic became criticised by his squad mates. Jose Mourinho’s arrival saw him banished to the reserves. He was only allowed to rejoin the first team to get fit enough for a move to MLS side Chicago Fire, but has been a hit so far in the USA.

16 – Angel Di Maria

Signed: August 2014

League appearances: 27

Although his 10 month stay at United ended in acrimony, it should not be forgotten just how exciting the Argentinian looked in midfield prior to his fall out with Louis van Gaal and sale, the summer after his arrival, to Paris Saint-Germain: the club it was suggested he wished to join all along after leaving Real Madrid.

Still, Di Maria is talked about as a great “what if” – what if he had arrived when Sir Alex Ferguson or even Jose Mourinho were around to make us of his individualism rather than scorn it? For all the drama he caused as he stropped in and out of Old Trafford, there was no doubting the midfielder’s quality, or just how big of a missed opportunity his transfer was for all involved.

15 – Guillermo Varela

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 14: Guillermo Varela (L) of Manchester United in action with Charly Musonda of Chelsea during the Barclays Under-21 Premier League Final match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on May 14, 2014 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)

Signed: July 2013

League appearances: 4

Out on loan for the season playing in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt, the feisty Uruguayan full-back has already endeared himself to a fan base still saddened by the sale of the high-flying Brazilian right-back Rafael after Varela made his debut under Louis van Gaal.

However, after making a serious error up against Philippe Coutinho in the Europa League, his first team opportunities disappeared in 2016. Potentially an Alexander Buttner-type signing, potentially still something more.

14 – Timothy Fosu-Mensah

Signed: September 2014

League appearances: 11

Signed from Ajax after United sealed the deal for Daley Blind, the Dutch youngster is regarded as one of the biggest talents to pass through the club in recent years. Blessed with a strong and imposing physique, he is still a fixture in the first team squad after breaking through under Louis van Gaal and big things are expected from the Netherlands under-21 international.

13 – Luke Shaw

Signed: June 2014

League appearances: 32

The England international has made just 28 league appearances in his three seasons at United in large part due to injury. After emerging as a key player for Louis van Gaal in 2015, a serious leg break sidelined him for the rest of the season.

His relationship with his new manager, Jose Mourinho, has become strained, but the left-back’s potential remains clear. The most expensive teenager in the history of football prior to the signing of Anthony Martial, Shaw has plenty of work to do in order to realise his promise – and build bridges with his current boss – however he is a supremely talented player and deserves patience to come good.

12 – Matteo Darmian

Signed: July 2015

League appearances: 45

The versatile Italian was hailed by fans as the long-awaited successor to Gary Neville following his first few games for United after signing during Louis van Gaal’s final season in charge.

Yet his early form could not be maintained and he has since slipped down the pecking order behind Antonio Valencia, although his versatility has seen him pop up at left-back as well as his natural side, over on the right. He has rediscovered his form as a wide-lying defender under Jose Mourinho.

11 – Marcos Rojo

Signed: August 2014

League appearances: 59

Despite his positional failings, run-ins with management, over-zealousness and errors on the pitch, Marcos Rojo remains at Old Trafford and has worked his way back into the team under Jose Mourinho. Signed to play as both a left-back and a left-sided centre-back after playing wide for Argentina at the 2014 World Cup, the versatile defender hasn’t always convinced with his performances in club colours.

However, he has found new purpose playing at the back as a centre-back for the Portuguese in his third year at Old Trafford and if he can recover from the ligament injury that ended his season in April 2017, he could become a defensive mainstay in the team.

10 – Marouane Fellaini

Signed: September 2013

League appearances: 87

Signed in farcical circumstances as David Moyes’ hesitancy saw United pay more than the Belgian’s release clause at Everton after leaving it too late – an embarrassment given that his former manager should have had full knowledge of the circumstances of his sale in the summer of 2013.

However, after coming to be regarded as the embodiment of everything that was wrong with the Moyes era, Fellaini fought back to become an important player for Louis van Gaal. Jose Mourinho has even found some success playing the destroyer in a deeper-lying midfield role. He may have since fallen back down the pecking order, and he may well remain a hugely unpopular player with some United supporters, but regardless of his faults and shortcomings, the Belgium international deserves respect for salvaging his United career and making the most of his opportunities.

9 – Sergio Romero

SAINT-ETIENNE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 22: Sergio Romero of Manchester United during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg match between AS Saint-Etienne and Manchester United at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on February 22, 2017 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)

Signed: July 2015

League appearances: 4

What more can a back-up ‘keeper do? The Argentinian, who once played under Louis van Gaal at AZ Alkmaar, has stepped in and played well in place of David De Gea whenever he has been called upon, and acquitted himself well in cup games.

Signed on a free, he remains one of the best, most experienced second-choice goalkeepers in the Premier League, and United’s Europa League guardian between the sticks.

8 – Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Signed: July 2016

League appearances: 22

One of Jose Mourinho’s three big money signings in his first summer as manager, the Armenian was initially sidelined by his manager after being declared unfit to play.

Since forcing his way into the team in November 2016, Mkhitaryan has proven his worth to add excitement, skill, tricky and goals to a team in dire need of some inspiration down the flanks.

7 – Eric Bailly

Signed: June 2016

League appearances: 22

In his first season at United, the Ivorian has overcome a major injury, plugged gaps in the defence no one else seemed able to and showed his class playing out from the back to rank among the best signings made by any Premier League side in 2016.

Good on the ball, strong in the tackle and in the air and alert to danger, the future looks bright for Bailly at Old Trafford.

6 – Daley Blind

during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Manchester United at Stadium of Light on April 9, 2017 in Sunderland, England.

Signed: September 2014

League appearances: 70

Blind has played in defensive midfield, at left-back and as a centre-back so far at Manchester United and almost always done a good job for his team.

Dismissed as a slight player lacking the strength and athleticism to succeed in the Premier League, he has developed his game to become an astute and reliable defender, and a supreme utility man: three players for the price of one.

5 – Anthony Martial

Signed: September 2015

League appearances: 53

“What a waste of money!” read the headlines. Club captain Wayne Rooney was caught out admitting he didn’t know who Anthony Martial was when United made the French forward the most expensive teenager in world football, breaking their own record after signing Luke Shaw a year earlier.

However, after a debut appearance that saw him score the winner against Liverpool, the doubts as to who this new attacker was and his potential to become a star at United soon dissipated. Problems off the field have derailed his progress and distracted the attacker during Jose Mourinho’s first season but he hasn’t lost any of his potential to reign as a genuine world beater at Old Trafford.

4 – Paul Pogba

Signed: August 2016

League appearances: 29

After spending four years with Juventus following a move to Turin from United in 2012, Paul Pogba returned in the summer of 2016 to become the most expensive footballer of all-time.

That is a billing that has coloured the reviews of his first few months at Old Trafford and while the ultra-confident Frenchman has over-played and tried too hard to impress at times, he hardly looks affected by the criticism, and is improving with almost every week.

A midfielder will always suffer when they are rated against the amount of goals they score and create above all else yet at 24, he is already one of the most exciting and complete players in the world. Who knows what he could yet become as the fully-featured fulcrum of Jose Mourinho’s side once he has been properly bedded into the Portuguese’s side.

3 – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Signed: July 2016

League appearances: 28

A free transfer after reigning as the highest scorer across Europe’s top five leagues in 2015/16, the giant Swedish striker started life brightly at Old Trafford yet has come in for criticism over his inability to put away a number of big chances.

Still, at the age of 35, and eager to play as many games as possible, week in, week out, Ibrahimovic was exactly the sort of veteran game-changing Jose Mourinho was looking for to lead the line and set the tone when he signed him in the summer of 2016.

A major injury could curtail his United career but for those who adore the Swede, they’ll always have that one great season of charisma off the field and goals on the pitch.

2 – Juan Mata

Signed: January 2014

League appearances: 109

A transfer signed off as a morale booster for the fans and the dressing room as well as an upgrade for the first team, Juan Mata was the first major casualty of Jose Mourinho’s second reign at Chelsea, and is now one of the Portuguese’s most used players during his first season at Old Trafford.

Having initially impressed as a goal-scoring midfielder alongside Adnan Januzaj and Shinji Kagawa, his role changed during Louis van Gaal’s risk-averse era as the Spaniard began to have a big impact on big games playing out on the right. Mata has continued to deliver big goals and moments wherever he has played for United.

1 – Ander Herrera

 during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg match between Manchester United and FC Midtjylland at Old Trafford on February 25, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom.

Signed: June 2014
League appearances:
 82

Signed by the club rather than Louis van Gaal in 2014, the Spaniard’s role in the team as a hard-working playmaker was almost immediately blocked off by the arrival of Angel Di Maria. Herrera’s naturally expansive style of play then saw him sidelined by the Dutchman until his hand was forced by the Argentinian’s rebellion yet has never quite stepped into the more creative role that was once outlined for him.

Since Jose Mourinho’s arrival, the former Athletic Club midfielder has moved deeper, to become Paul Pogba’s foil as the side’s defensive midfielder, or box-to-box link man alongside the Frenchman and Michael Carrick. Beloved by the fans, his tenacity has made him a cult hero at Old Trafford while his energy, enthusiasm and intelligent approach to playing as the team’s destroyer has finally seen him become an important part of the starting XI.