Manchester United has failed to produce players like Paul Pogba, Angel Di Maria and Alexis Sanchez. United are notorious for making terrible transfers decisions. They are known to pay more for players who don’t fit in the club. Many players have seen their careers fall apart at Manchester United. This list contains the 10 worst signings United has made over the years.
1. Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez was probably the worst signing in Manchester United’s history. Manchester United signed Alexis Sanchez after a successful bid from Arsenal. Sanchez played for Arsenal between 2014 and 2018. He was a key player for the club, and he was loved by the fans. It was shocking to see Alexis Sanchez leave the club and join Manchester United. Manchester United went all out to unveil Alexis Sanchez as a Red Devil. They got Sanchez to play ‘Glory, Glory Man United’ on a piano to announce himself to Manchester United fans.
Alexis Sanchez was not at all a revelation when he joined the club. Questions were asked regarding his performances and his attitude in the field. Alexis Sanchez seemed to be unwilling to make any efforts to improve his performance. Sanchez received a salary of £14 million annually to play for United and did not show anything on the pitch for it. The Chilean quit dribbling and taking long shots at his opponents. United fans were very critical of Sanchez throughout his entire time at the club. Arsene Werner and Jose Mourinho both spoke of Sanchez’s time with Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho said
When you’re not happy, it’s hard to perform well at any level. But the truth is that I felt this way throughout my entire career. [of Sanchez], ‘a sad man’.”
Arsene Wenger Said:
“I think he’s lost confidence. Alexis Sanchez is a player who can show initiative and dribble to win the ball. These players are most vulnerable when they lose confidence because their game is based upon feeling free to take initiative.”
2. Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba began his senior career with Manchester United. He was at Manchester United between 2009 and 2012, but never got to play. In 2012, he rejected a contract renewal and joined Serie A club Juventus instead. Paul Pogba spent four years in the midfield, establishing himself as the best player in the world. Manchester United noticed him again after his goals and assists with Juventus. Paul Pogba, who has proven his abilities at Juventus, insisted that Manchester United is still his priority.
Manchester United broke their bank in 2016 to bring Paul Pogba home. They paid £89 million for Pogba, which was the then world record transfer fee. Pogba made over 200 appearances at Manchester United. He had his moments, but never lived up to the hype. Paul Pogba was clearly capable of becoming one of the world’s best midfielders, but he wasn’t determined enough.
Pogba played well at Manchester United but did not consistently perform at his best. This is what turned Manchester United fans against Pogba and he decided he would leave United in summer 2022. Pogba has once again moved from Manchester United to Juventus.
Paul Pogba, upon returning to Juventus said:
“I came to Juve because the club helped me push my limits. “I did not get the love I get from the club, from the fans and from the club in Manchester.”
3. Angel Di Maria
Angel Di Maria joined Manchester United from Real Madrid in 2014. Di Maria was a standout player at Real Madrid. Manchester United paid £60 million to sign Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid. Di Maria struggled with adjusting to life in Manchester both on and away from the pitch. He was not able to perform at the level he used to at Real Madrid. Louis Van Gaal’s set-up did not suit Angel Di Maria’s playstyle at all. Di Maria’s family and he also found life in Manchester to be very difficult and troublesome.
In 2015, burglars broke into Angel Di Maria’s home. This incident shook Angel Di Maria to his core. Di Maria left Manchester United shortly after and joined Paris Saint-Germain. Although Di Maria’s performances were not the best, Manchester United still managed to get £44 million from Paris Saint-Germain.
Angel Di Maria, while speaking of his time at Manchester, admitted that he was not really a fit there. That is why Angel Di Maria decided to leave Manchester after only a brief stint and join Paris Saint-Germain.
Di Maria said
“I didn’t have a good relationship with my coach, so I thought the decision to join Paris would be the best solution. The life in England was not easy. It’s not easy to be a South American. Some people adjust well, while for others it’s harder.
4. Juan Sebastian Veron
Juan Sebastian Veron, a talented midfielder who played for Manchester United in 2001, is one of their most talented players. Veron transferred to Manchester United from Lazio in 2001. Manchester United paid Lazio £28 million to sign Juan Sebastian Veron. Ferguson wanted Veron in Manchester United’s middle to compete with Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, but this did not happen. Veron only managed to score 7 goals in 57 Premier League matches for Manchester United.
The Argentine struggled in his first few years at Manchester United. Veron, while he was obviously a talented player, he could not compete with Scholes and Keane. Juan Sebastian Veron’s Manchester United tenure ended in 2003. After a short stint at the club, United decided to sell him to Chelsea for £15 million.
5. Memphis Depay
Memphis Depay showed a lot potential when he first joined Manchester United in 2015. Depay was the top scorer in the Eredivisie league for 2014-15, with 22 goals. Depay’s speed, dribbling skills and finishing ability for PSV attracted Manchester United. Manchester United shelled out £31 million for Depay. Depay chose to wear the number 7 jersey for Manchester United. Since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid in 2009, the number 7 jersey has been associated with bad luck. Memphis Depay also suffered from this apparent curse.
Depay struggled with his performance at Manchester United. In 53 appearances, Depay scored only 7 goals for Manchester United. Depay was not the answer to the club’s problems, and he would never be able make it to the Premier League. Depay was sold to Lyon in January 2017. Depay continues to support Manchester United even though he did not succeed at the club. Mourinho explained why he felt Memphis Depay failed to succeed at United.
“I read about Wayne Rooney saying that Memphis went to a match with the kids, and he arrived in a big Rolls Royce with his cowboy hat. That was a bit of Memphis. There are many fantastic players who will fight with you to get a position [at the biggest clubs]. They lose a bit of their reality and become a bit childish. That’s what happened in the end.”
6. Donny van de Beek
Donny van De Beek’s career with Manchester United has been a very sad tale. United decided to spend £35 million in September 2020 to sign Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek. This signing was not very logical, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had many options for the midfield. Solskjaer did not seem interested in the player. It looked as if the board made the signing just to appease fans.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was reluctant to use Donny van de Beek. The Dutchman was rarely given any opportunities to play or prove himself at United. Van de Beek thought his time at Manchester United might change after the club hired his former manager Erik Ten Hag. Ten Hag chose not to play him regularly. Van de Beek’s fitness was another issue. Van de Beek’s multiple injuries cost him any chance he might have had to impress the manager and get into the first-team.
Despite all of these challenges, the Dutch midfielder is still devoted to Manchester United. He is determined for United to be his club and remains there until today. He will hope to get a chance sooner or later to impress Erik Ten Hag.
7. Romelu Lukaku
In 2017, the Red Devils signed Romelu. Lukaku. They paid a huge £75 million transfer fee to get the Belgium forward to United. Romelu Lukaku spent three seasons at Everton, and then he moved to United. Lukaku scored 25 Premier League goals in his final Everton season, out of 68 Premier League goal for Everton. Romelu Lukaku, a goal-scorer with a good physicality, seemed to be suited for Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Lukaku scored 28 goals for Manchester United across all competitions in his first season. Lukaku, however, was unable to score against difficult teams and his inability to score against United was called into question. Lukaku’s first touch and finish were both questioned at United. His numbers continued to decline the following season. Lukaku’s own fans demanded better performance from him.
In 2019, Manchester United sold Romelu to Inter Milan. Steve Walsh, Everton’s ex-director, recalled what he told Jose Mourinho about signing Lukaku when United signed Everton.
When Jose [Mourinho] signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton, I remember saying to him, ‘You have to be careful with Lukaku. He is a huge baby.”
Mourinho did not seem to take this warning seriously, as he was unable to manage Lukaku effectively. Lukaku, who had been a great striker in Premier League when he played for Everton before joining the Red Devils, was simply not able to make it.
8. Jadon Sancho
Jadon Sancho’s transfer to Manchester United was one of the longest. The Englishman was brilliant at Borussia Dortmund. He scored goals and assisted as he pleased. Manchester United tried to sign him, but Dortmund repeatedly refused. United finally got Jadon Sancho after multiple transfer windows in 2021. United paid Dortmund £73 million to bring Sancho to Old Trafford.
Jadon Sancho faced a mountainous amount of expectations and pressure due to the high price tag, as well as a lengthy transfer saga. He was expected to perform for Manchester United from the very beginning. Sancho failed to match his Dortmund performances. Sancho managed to score 12 goals and six assists in 79 Manchester United appearances.
Now it looks like his United career may be over. Jadon Sancho was exiled from the United squad after a spat with manager Erik Ten Hag. Sancho has been banned from training with the first-team after a disagreement between the two. It is unlikely that Sancho will play for United again if he doesn’t apologize. It will be a tragic end to his United career if he leaves the club in such a manner.
9. Wilfried Zaha
Manchester United signed Wilfried zaha when he was only 20 years old. Wilfried was under a lot pressure when United signed Wilfried from Crystal Palace in 2013. United parted with £15 million to get Zaha to the club. United had been tracking Zaha for over three years before signing him. However, Alex Ferguson had left the club by the time United signed him. David Moyes, United’s new manager, was not interested to use Wilfried Zaha for his plans. Zaha was also unable to impress Louis van Gaal. He returned to Selhurst Park, in 2015, after failing to impress him.
Wilfried Zaha had barely a chance at United to prove himself before they sent him to Crystal Palace. Zaha, on the other hand, became a dynamic winger in Crystal Palace, taking on defenders with ease and dribbling them past. He has scored against United many times, whenever he is given the chance.
In 2018, Zaha claimed that rumours from off the pitch played a major role in his unhappiness at United. He was distracted by such news and could not concentrate on football.
“I went though so much with United. No one attempted to dispel the rumours about me not playing for United due to my having slept with David Moyes’ daughter. When I was with United I had money but I was still depressed.”
10. Radamel Falcao
Manchester United fans were thrilled when they signed Radamel Falcao as a loan from Monaco in 2014. Falcao scored 11 goals for Monaco in 20 Ligue 1 games the previous season. Radamel Falcao appeared to be in good form and was the solution to many Manchester United problems.
Falcao made his name after a prolific spell at Porto, and Atletico. United put a total of £16 million into the deal to sign Falcao. This turned out to have been a big mistake. The Columbian only managed to score 4 goals in 29 matches for the club. United decided to forgo the option to sign Falcao permanently and ended their relationship with the player.