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Sunday’s home defeat to Arsenal was another disappointing result for Manchester United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side currently slumped in 15th in the Premier League table. Among those who underwhelmed most was Paul Pogba.
The French midfielder was at fault for Arsenal’s winner, clumsily tripping Hector Bellerin inside the area to give Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the chance to convert from 12 yards. This has led to renewed assessment of Pogba and his role at Old Trafford.
Pogba remains the most expensive player in the Reds’ history, but who are Manchester United ’s worst pound-for-pound signings of the Premier League era? Here are 10.
As Manchester United’s new number seven in the summer of 2015, much was expected of Memphis Depay following his £30 million switch from PSV Eindhoven. However, the Dutch winger struggled for confidence, scoring just seven times in 53 appearances for the Reds.
Depay left Old Trafford for Lyon in the 2017 January transfer window. The Dutch winger has since revived his career, becoming a key figure for the French club as well as the Netherlands over the last few seasons. Impressive form led to persistent speculation of a transfer to Barcelona this summer.
Having failed to sign any of their top targets the summer before, United spent big to lure Angel di Maria to Old Trafford having just helped Real Madrid to Champions League glory with a Man of the Match performance in the final against Atletico Madrid.
Despite a fast start which saw the Argentine score a stunning chip against Leicester City, di Maria quickly grew unsettled in Manchester, only making 27 Premier League appearances before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain after just one season.
While Fred has most recently become a regular figure for United, the £50 million paid for the Brazilian still doesn’t represent value for money. Jose Mourinho bizarrely exiled Fred from the first team following his arrival from Shakhtar Donetsk, with the midfielder coming close to leaving the club last summer.
Solskjaer has since found a way to work the 27-year-old into his team, but his true role remains unclear. Fred has been used in a midfield two alongside Scott McTominay, but is often overlooked in favour of Nemanja Matic as the central anchor behind Bruno Fernandes and Pogba.
United badly needed a new central defender in the 2019 summer transfer window and spent big to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester City. In fact, the £80 million paid for the England international made him the most expensive defender in the history of the game, surpassing the previous record set by Virgil van Dijk.
Maguire did steady Manchester United’s defence in his first season at the club, but found his weaknesses exposed numerous times. This led to a nightmare start to the 2020/21 campaign, with Maguire found wanting both for club and country.
There was much excitement around Manchester United’s capture of Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund in the summer transfer window of 2016. After all, the Armenian had only just finished a stellar season in the Bundesliga, with many viewing him as Germany’s best player at that moment in time.
Mkhitaryan struggled to make much of an impression at Old Trafford, though. The attacking midfielder played a key role in winning the Europa League in his first season at United, but failed to find a regular role in Jose Mourinho’s team. He was sent to Arsenal just two-and-a-half years later in the deal that saw Alexis Sanchez head the other way.
Manchester United’s world record signing of Pogba in the 2016 summer transfer window was a statement of intent. Mourinho was only just getting his feet under the desk at Old Trafford and in the French midfielder he was delivered a genuinely world class talent to work with and build his team around.
Things quickly started to unravel for Pogba, though. Poor performances and questions over his attitude led to Mourinho benching the midfielder in the 2018/19 season, with the player publicly flirting with a move to Real Madrid. A transfer failed to materialise and Pogba remains at United, as do many of the questions against him.
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The signing of Marcos Rojo in the 2014 summer transfer window summed up Manchester United’s scattergun approach to the market at the time. The defender had just enjoyed a successful World Cup with Argentina, but arrived at Old Trafford with no clear role to play in Louis van Gaal’s side.
Rojo has been used at left back and centre back, but failed to nail down a regular starting spot in either position. Loaned out to Estudiantes in January, the 30-year-old has been earmarked for a permanent exit for some time, but is still lingering around United.
While the terms of the transfer itself were less remarkable than many on this list, the reported £400,000-a-week wage Manchester United handed Sánchez makes this one of the costliest signings ever made by the club. The Chilean certainly isn’t remembered fondly at Old Trafford.
Signed seemingly out of symbolic desire to deny Manchester City the forward, Sánchez found the net just five times in 45 appearances in all competitions for United. This summer saw the 31-year-old depart the club, joining Inter after a season on loan with the Italian club.
Signed during a summer which also saw United waste money on Depay, Matteo Darmian and Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin arrived at Old Trafford with a £30 million price tag around his neck. The Frenchman was expected to be the Reds’ next great holding midfielder.
Despite impressing for Southampton, Schneiderlin was never truly trusted by van Gaal and even less so by Mourinho. The midfielder made 29 Premier League appearances in his first season at United, but only three in his second and was sold to Everton in January 2017.
While Sir Alex Ferguson’s success rate in the transfer market was remarkably high, he did one wrong from time to time and the signing of Juan Sebastián Verón was one such example of this. Even to this day, the Argentine is remembered as one of the most expensive flops in Premier League history.
Verón was considered one of Europe’s best midfielders when he arrived at Old Trafford from Lazio, but Ferguson struggled to find a place for him in his team. The Argentine played well in continental competition, but failed to replicate that in the Premier League and left for Chelsea after just two seasons.
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