Man Utd’s 10 cheapest signings since Alex Ferguson left – & how they fared

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Daley Blind playing for Manchester United against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, March 2016. Credit: PA Images
Daley Blind playing for Manchester United against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, March 2016. Credit: PA Images

During his 26 years in charge of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson was renowned for making excellent bargain buys. 

United have moved away from that strategy in recent years, signing big names like Angel Di Maria and Paul Pogba for record-breaking fees.

Still, the Red Devils have still tried to make some cut-price deals and we’ve taken a look at their 10 cheapest signings in the post-Ferguson era to see how they fared at Old Trafford.

Note: we’ve not included any loan deals, free transfers or Under-18 players. Tyrell Malacia has also been excluded as he’s only just joined the club.

10. Marcos Rojo – £16m

After a move for Mats Hummels failed to materialise, United spent £16million on Rojo, who had just helped Argentina reach the 2014 World Cup final.

The centre-back inherited Rio Ferdinand’s No.5 shirt but failed to fill it like his predecessor had and became an increasingly erratic presence at the back due to his tendency to make rash challenges. 

He struggled with injury problems during his final few years at Old Trafford and was allowed to join Boca Juniors on a free transfer in 2021. 

9. Alex Telles – £15.4m

Having registered assist after assist for Porto in the Primeira LigaTelles initially looked like a brilliant bargain signing for United. 

But the left-back hasn’t been able to replicate that form at Old Trafford and is often caught out defensively in Premier League games. 

He’s currently behind Luke Shaw and Malacia in the pecking order and has reportedly been deemed surplus to requirements by Erik ten Hag.

8. Daniel James – £15m

United explored the possibility of signing Jadon Sancho back in 2019 but ultimately went with a cheaper option, buying James from Championship side Swansea City in a £15million deal.

He hit the ground running and scored three goals in his opening four Premier League games, including a strike against Chelsea on his debut.

But the Wales international failed to maintain that form, scoring just three more goals in his next 46 Premier League appearances for the Red Devils.

United were still able to make a profit, selling him to Leeds for £25million following Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford in 2021.

7. Daley Blind – £13.8m

After playing under Van Gaal at international level for the Netherlands, Blind joined United and reunited with the manager in the summer of 2014.

He struggled to usurp Michael Carrick in midfield but formed an impressive partnership with Chris Smalling after being converted into a ball-playing centre-back, helping United win the FA Cup and Europa League. 

Having been one of the first names on the team sheet for Van Gaal, Blind slipped down the pecking order in Mourinho’s second season and was then allowed to return to former club Ajax.

 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

READ: An ode to Daley Blind, the slender defender who defies modern logic

6. Cristiano Ronaldo – £12.8m

It’s not very often that a world-class player is available for less than £13million but United got Ronaldo in a cut-price deal from Juventus in 2021.

Admittedly, the forward was 36 at the time and his reported wage of £500,000 per week means that the move didn’t come cheaply.

Ronaldo then performed admirably during a turbulent season at Old Trafford, scoring 24 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions in 2021-22 and earning a place in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.

But the Portugal international was often criticised for his lack of work rate and now faces an uncertain future at United after expressing his desire to leave.

5. Matteo Darmian – £12.7m

Darmian was once regarded as one of the world’s most promising full-backs and was named in the Serie A Team of the Year in 2013-14 and 2014-15. 

He then replaced Rafael at Old Trafford and enjoyed a brilliant start to his United career, winning their Player of the Month award in August 2015. 

But that was about as good as it got for the Italy international, who struggled with the physicality of the Premier League and had to settle for a bit-part role under Jose Mourinho. 

Darmian made just 32 Premier League appearances during his final three seasons at United and was sold to Parma for £1.4million in 2019.

4. Facundo Pellistri – £9m

After Pellistri got a glowing reference from former United striker Diego Forlan, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to take a punt on him in the summer of 2020. 

The Uruguay international initially played for United’s Under-23s before spending 18 months on loan at Spanish side Deportivo Alaves. 

He is yet to make a competitive first-team appearance for United but has scored in pre-season friendlies against Derby County and Liverpool. 

3. Bastian Schweinsteiger – £6.5m

Schweinsteiger arrived at United with some serious pedigree, having won eight Bundesliga titles, the Champions League and the World Cup.

”When people see Schweinsteiger on the team sheet, that’s gonna send some shivers down the spine,” former executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told MUTV in 2015.

But he wasn’t on the United team sheet very often, starting just 22 games in all competitions due to a series of injury problems.

The Bayern Munich legend also looked a shadow of his former self during those appearances and was even banished to the Under-23s by Jose Mourinho.

While Mourinho regretted that decision, Schweinsteiger was still allowed to join Major League Soccer side Chicago Fire on a free transfer in March 2017.

 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

READ: The last goodbye: How Schweinsteiger became an MLS ‘All-Star’ centre-back

2. Guillermo Varela – £2.3m

The first signing of the post-Ferguson era, Varela spent his debut season in United’s reserves and was on loan at Real Madrid B for the following campaign. 

He made 11 first-team appearances under Van Gaal in 2015-16 and provided the assist for Marcus Rashford’s second goal against FC Midtjylland.

The Uruguay international fell out of favour after a poor display against Liverpool in the Europa League last 16 and was then sold to former club Penarol in 2017. 

1. Lee Grant – £1.5m

After producing a man-of-the-match performance at Old Trafford in the 2016-17 season, Grant caught Jose Mourinho’s attention and later joined United in 2018.

The former Stoke City shot-stopper became United’s third-choice goalkeeper, providing cover for David de Gea and Sergio Romero. 

Grant made his debut in an EFL Cup tie against Derby County after Romero got sent off and was later handed a start against Astana in the Europa League. But that 2-1 defeat in Kazakhstan proved to be his second and final appearance for the club. 

His four years at Old Trafford will probably be best remembered for going on the radio and talking about Cristiano Ronaldo’s aversion to apple crumble.

More Manchester United

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An ode to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Man Utd’s great bargain and Mr Reliable

Can you name every goalkeeper to play for Man Utd in the PL?

The story of the Man Utd starlet who had too many loans to make an impact

The article Man Utd’s 10 cheapest signings since Alex Ferguson left – & how they fared appeared first on Planetfootball.com.

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