Casemiro next: The 10 players Man Utd have signed from La Liga

·6-min read
Manchester United's Raphael Varane during the pre-season friendly match against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford, Manchester. Sunday July 31, 2022. Credit: PA Images
Manchester United's Raphael Varane during the pre-season friendly match against Rayo Vallecano at Old Trafford, Manchester. Sunday July 31, 2022. Credit: PA Images

Manchester United are reportedly trying to sign Casemiro from Real Madrid, but they’ve had mixed success with their imports from Spain over the years. 

United are desperate to add a new defensive midfielder before the end of the transfer window and Fabrizio Romano has said that a move for Madrid’s Brazil international Casemiro is getting “closer and closer.”

But how have United’s previous signings from the Spanish top tier fared? We’ve taken a closer look at the 10 players they have signed from La Liga in the Premier League era.

Raphael Varane

Varane was supposed to be a transformative signing, a player who took United onto a whole different level.

But he was hampered by injury problems in his debut season and United endured their worst Premier League campaign, conceding 57 goals in 38 games.

The centre-back, who won three La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues at Real Madrid, can still turn things around at Old Trafford and become a key player for Erik ten Hag.

Eric Bailly

Bailly was Jose Mourinho’s first signing at Old Trafford in 2016, arriving in a £30million deal from Villarreal.

The eccentric centre-back had a promising debut season at United but a series of injury problems have halted his progress at the club.

He made just four Premier League appearances in 2021-22, cast out by both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick, and now looks set to leave the club. West Ham, Marseille and Monaco have been mentioned as potential destinations.

 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

READ: 18 times Man Utd’s Eric Bailly was the funniest player in the world

Victor Valdes

After rejecting the offer of a new contract at Barcelona, Valdes joined United on a free transfer in January 2015.

The goalkeeper made just two Premier League appearances for the Red Devils before being frozen out by Louis van Gaal for refusing to play in an Under-21 fixture.

He was even denied a dressing room locker at Carrington and joined Middlesbrough on a free transfer in 2016.

Angel Di Maria

Di Maria arrived at Old Trafford with a big reputation, having produced a man-of-the-match performance for Real Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final.

The Argentina international made a great start to his United career – that fabulous chipped goal against Leicester City was a particular highlight – but everything went downhill from there.

He fell out of favour under Van Gaal and was allowed to leave the club for a substantial loss just a year after arriving.

“I only stayed one year. It wasn’t the best period of my career, or they didn’t let me have my best time there,” Di Maria told France Bleu in February 2019.

“There were problems with the coach at the time. But thanks to God, I was able to come to PSG and be myself again.”

Ander Herrera

United tried and failed to sign Herrera from Athletic Bilbao in the summer of 2013 but they finally brought him to Old Trafford in 2014.

He won the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award in 2016-17 and was a surprisingly good shithouse, which always goes down well with the fans.

The midfielder made 189 appearances in all competitions during his five-year stint at United before joining Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer in 2019.

David de Gea

After starring for Atletico Madrid, De Gea moved to Old Trafford in 2011 as a successor to Edwin van der Sar, but initially, he looked like a flop.

The Spain international recovered from his rocky start and went on to establish himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, winning United’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award four times.

But he has made some pretty big howlers in recent seasons and there are question marks over his ability to adapt to Ten Hag’s style of play.

 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

READ: Where are they now? The Man Utd Xl from David de Gea’s debut in 2011

Gerard Pique

Pique moved to United from Barcelona as a 17-year-old in 2004 and the defender was tipped for a bright future at Old Trafford.

But he struggled to break up the incredible centre-back partnership between Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, making 23 first-team appearances before returning to the Nou Camp in 2008.

“I grew up a lot there. I am who I am because of the period I had at Manchester United, even though I didn’t play as much as I wanted to,” Pique told the Observer in November 2019.

“But in my position there were two centre-backs who were among the top three in the world at the time.”

Ricardo

United spent £1.5million to sign from Real Valladolid in 2002, in the hope he could provide competition to Fabian Barthez and Roy Carroll.

The goalkeeper marked his only Premier League appearance by conceding a penalty with his first touch before saving the resulting spot-kick in a 3-1 win over Blackburn.

“I remember Barthez got injured so I had to come on for the second half,” Ricardo told us. “There was a long ball and Rio Ferdinand headed it, but the striker got in front of me and I fouled him.

“David Dunn took the penalty to my left and it was a good save and my most incredible moment in Manchester.”

 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

READ: The story of Ricardo’s three years at Man Utd and how it shaped his career

Quinton Fortune

Fortune only made eight La Liga appearances for Atletico Madrid before completing a £1.5million move to United in 1999.

The midfielder played a bit-part role during his seven years at Old Trafford, making 126 first-team appearances and receiving a Premier League winner’s medal in 2002-03.

Jordi Cruyff

Cruyff, son of Dutch legend Johan, joined United from Barcelona in 1996 and scored two goals in the first three Premier League games.

But injury problems plagued his Old Trafford career and the midfielder left the club four years later with 58 appearances to his name.

“I fell from one injury to another and I could never really get a run and show the manager he could count on me,” Cruyff told BBC Sport in August 2019.

“When Ryan Giggs was injured, I was always injured – and that’s my fault. As a coach, you want players who are ready when you need them.”

More Manchester United

The story of Ricardo’s three years at Man Utd and how it shaped his career

Ranking Man Utd’s 23 Premier League goalkeepers from worst to best

The seven Man Utd kids Fergie tipped for stardom in 2001 & how they fared

Can you name every player Ferguson used in his last Man Utd season?

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