Where are they now? Sir Alex Ferguson’s last 10 Man Utd signings

Wilfried Zaha playing for Manchester United . Credit: Alamy
Wilfried Zaha playing for Manchester United . Credit: Alamy

From Eric Cantona to Cristiano Ronaldo, Sir Alex Ferguson made some brilliant signings during his 26 years in charge of Manchester United.

But Ferguson didn’t always get it right in the transfer market, particularly towards the end of his reign when the Glazers were in charge.

We’ve taken a look at his last 10 United signings to see how they’ve fared since.

Wilfried Zaha

Zaha became Ferguson’s last signing for the club when he was snapped up in a £15million deal in January 2013. But he was loaned back to Crystal Palace for the remainder of the season and never got to play under the Scot, who retired after winning his 13th league title.

“It crushed me a little bit because it was like, after speaking to him, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to go there,” Zaha told Rio Ferdinand on his YouTube channel.

“I had no idea he was leaving.”

The Ivory Coast international made just four appearances for the club and was sold back to Palace in February 2015 for a fraction of what they bought him for.

Despite regularly being linked with a move away, he remains at Selhurst Park, and there are now fewer opportunities for him to depart.

Angelo Henriquez

Ferguson hoped that he had unearthed another unknown gem when he bought an 18-year-old Henriquez from Universidad de Chile in 2012.

But he never made a competitive appearance for United, going on loan to Wigan Athletic, Real Zaragoza and Dinamo Zagreb, before making a permanent move to the latter in 2015.

The 27-year-old decided to return to former club Universidad de Chile in 2018 and then joined Brazilian side Fortaleza, before continuing his journeyman career by signing for Polish side Miedz Legnica on a three year deal in the summer of 2022.

Alexander Buttner

Buttner joined United from Vitesse Arnhem in 2012 and made a remarkable start to his Premier League career, scoring a brilliant solo goal on his debut against Wigan.

The left-back failed to build on that and made just another 27 appearances for the club before joining Russian side Dynamo Moscow in 2014.

“My adventure with Manchester United was not a failure,” Buttner told Algemeen Dagblad in 2017.

“Who can say that they have won the Premier League title? I can say that. Even Steven Gerrard hasn’t managed it. I played more games for United than I ever dreamed of.”

Aside from a brief spell at New England Revolution, he’s spent the last five years back in the Netherlands and now turns out for Eredivisie side RKC Waalwijk.

Robin van Persie

After rejecting a new contract offer from Arsenal, Van Persie joined United in the summer of 2012 and his goals ensured that Ferguson had the perfect farewell.

“I did ask him the question how long his intentions as to stay and he said three years so that was in my mind when I decided to make the move from Arsenal,” Van Persie told us.

“Would I have changed my decision if I knew Sir Alex would be leaving at the end of that season? It is a good question and one that I can’t answer.

“He was one of the big reasons why I signed, for sure. He was a legendary manager and you could see from the moment I walked into the club that everything was working perfectly under him.”

The striker failed to hit the same heights under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal and was sold to Turkish side Fenerbahce in 2015.

He then finished his playing career back at boyhood club Feyenoord, becoming a coach for the senior side and co-manager of the Under-16s.

In fact, he recently turned down an approach to return to Old Trafford when Erik ten Hag offered him a role behind the scenes, citing that his family had much-needed stability for the first time in a while.

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

READ: Fergie’s farewell gift: Robin van Persie’s fairytale debut season at Man Utd

Nick Powell

A product of the famous Crewe academy, Powell joined United in a £6million deal and was regarded as the next big thing.

“We hope Powell fills Paul Scholes’ boots. For an 18-year-old boy it has been a terrific day,” Ferguson said after the midfielder scored on his United debut.

But he failed to live up to those expectations, making just eight more appearances for the club before joining Wigan on a free transfer in 2016.

The 27-year-old has impressed outside of the Premier League and is now a key player at Stoke City.

Still, United fans will never forget when he was thrown on by Van Gaal for his first appearance in a year when United were losing away against Wolfsburg in the Champions League.

No, didn’t United end up winning.

Shinji Kagawa

Big things were expected of Kagawa after he joined United from Borussia Dortmund, but the midfielder struggled to replicate his Bundesliga form at Old Trafford.

After being deemed surplus to requirements by Van Gaal, he returned to Dortmund in 2014 and made 145 appearances during his second spell in Germany.

The Japan international then spent a year with second-tier Spanish outfit Real Zaragoza before joining Super League Greece club PAOK.

After a year there, Kagawa doubled down on his journeyman stint and joined Belgian side Sint-Truiden in the top-flight.

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

READ: An ode to Shinji Kagawa at Man Utd and one of the calmest hat-tricks ever

Frederic Veseli

Signed from rivals Manchester City in January 2012, Veseli never made a competitive first-team appearance for United and was released following Ferguson’s retirement in 2013.

The defender initially remained in England with Ipswich Town, Bury and Port Vale before heading to Switzerland with FC Lugano in 2015.

He’s since carved out a career bouncing between Serie A and Serie B with Empoli and Salernitana, helping the latter win promotion in 2021 and stay up against all odds the following year.

Plus there’s the small matter of 41 Albanian caps as well. A very solid career in the end.

Paul Scholes

Scholes decided to hang up his boots in the summer of 2011 but changed his mind and came out of retirement seven months later, after training with the squad and deciding he was still definitely better than everyone there.

His second stint at Old Trafford only lasted another 18 months, before he followed Ferguson out of the door at the end of the 2012-13 season.

Predominantly now a TV pundit, he also had very brief spells in the dugout with Oldham Athletic and Salford City.

David de Gea

The only player on this list that is still on United’s books, De Gea remains their first-choice goalkeeper and has made over 500 appearances for the club in all competitions, the 11th highest appearance maker in the history of the historic club.

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

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

Ashley Young

After eight-and-a-half years at United, where he evolved from flying winger to steady full-back, Young moved to Inter Milan in January 2020.

There he became a key player under wing-back addict Antonio Conte, making 59 appearances in all competitions and helping them win the Serie A title in 2020-21.

The almost 37-year-old has now returned to England for a swansong at Aston Villa where he had spent four years prior to joining United in 2011. He’s in talks about a contract renewal.

READ MORE: Ronaldo next? 8 great players that left Man Utd on a free: Rooney, Vidic

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