30. Alexis Sanchez
Where to begin? With the astronomical wages and bonuses allowing Sanchez to personally ‘earn’ £28m in 15 months at Manchester United? With the way his arrival represented yet another roadblock in the development of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial? How about that United signed him to gazump a Manchester City side operating in a different galaxy to their city rivals?
All this, and more – it’s been indisputably one of English football’s most disastrous transfers. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer recently claimed, “When he plays, he needs to find himself.” Finding a team-mate was clearly too much to ask.
29. Radamel Falcao
Beware of Gestifute bearing gifts. Falcao cost Manchester United £6m in loan fees and double that in wages. Oddly, they eschewed the option to buy El Tigre for £43.5m, after 26 Premier League appearances – yes, that many – revealed a mere shadow of a player.
28. Victor Valdes
A three-time Champions League winner, reduced to reserve team action and an acrimonious exit. How the mighty fell.
27, 26, 25. Saidy Janko, Regan Poole, Lee Grant
Each of this trio earns a place by virtue of a single appearance for the Red Devils – not all happy ones. While a 17-year-old Poole came on in stoppage time during a Europa League thumping of Midtjylland (Marcus Rashford’s professional debut), Janko was substituted at half-time in United’s humiliating 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the League Cup, before Grant helped them to lose to Derby in this season’s competition.
£52m, and he’s no better than Scott McTominay. Peeking at Manchester City’s shopping list is not an effective recruitment policy (see also: No.30).
23. Memphis Depay
The inevitable big move came too early for the Dutchman, only 21 but tasked with saving United’s attack. He did not. They have a buyback clause, mind, and he’s thriving at Lyon.
22. Guillermo Varela
David Moyes’s first signing never featured for the Scotsman but did make a handful of appearances under Louis van Gaal in 2015/16, before retreating into obscurity. He’s now playing in Denmark.
21. Bastian Schweinsteiger
Being publicly humiliated by Jose Mourinho puts Schweinsteiger in good company, although very few have received an apology of sorts, as he did. However, Schweini was hardly an asset in the year before Mourinho arrived. We’re still not certain that Louis van Gaal meant to sign the midfielder or if it was a misunderstanding, given he arrived on the same day as…
20. Morgan Schneiderlin
Of the eight players in four seasons who left Southampton for either Liverpool or Manchester United, £24m Schneiderlin fared the worst. All right, apart from Rickie Lambert.
19. Marcos Rojo
While this may seem low, Rojo – neither left-back nor centre-back – is most important when he’s unavailable, whereupon his reputation rises exponentially until he actually plays again.
Sporting couldn’t believe their luck when United offered £16m, plus Nani on a wage-free loan, AND a 20% sell-on clause if Rojo fetched a similar fee in years to come. Obviously this never happened and never will, so chalk that up as a win for Ed Woodward, we suppose.