A club that claims itself as the largest in all of Europe. Manchester United sure do have the trophy case to back that claim up, and then some. Legends have worn the shirt en route to winning the most Premier League titles in the league’s history. Most of them coming through when Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge of the club. Winning every trophy under the sun, Fergie took United to the top of the world’s game. Since his departure, United have had stumblings under David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal. Deals that just didn’t work out, and were failed experiments. I’m sure Jose Mourinho will be bound to commit similar mistakes, as even the great Sir Alex Ferguson made some blunder sells. Without further ado, here’s the top 5 players that Manchester United have sold (in no particular order). If you liked reading this piece, go ahead and give my previous two articles on this series a look: Top 5 Players Chelsea Sold, and Top 5 Players Real Madrid Sold.
Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint Germain)
A player who seemed destined to succeed at Old Trafford. Di Maria had already conquered the mighty Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid. Winning every title possible with Real Madrid, Angel Di Maria had established himself as one of the world’s best playmakers. Winning the Champions League in 2014, and a couple months later, finishing runner up at the World Cup in Brazil. He had performed spectacularly in both, and in return earned himself the most expensive transfer in English history (at the time) to Manchester. Brought in by Louis Van Gaal (who was fresh off a 3rd place finish at the World Cup with Holland), Di Maria was incredibly anticipated and he had gotten off to a hot start. He had won Manchester United’s player of the month for the month of September, for his performances in his debut month. Providing a goal and an assist in both the matches against Queens Park Rangers and Leicester City. His chip of Kasper Schmeichel against Leicester, also won Premier League goal of the month. He put on a stellar performance against Everton as well but after that was when the struggles came. He had a poor run of form and got hurt in November. His poor run of form continued into the 2nd half of the season and by year’s end, most pundits called Di Maria the worst signing of the season. He was sold to PSG in 2015 for 44 million pounds and has since found his feet. He set a Ligue 1 record for assists in a single season with 18, in 2016.
A bust in the highest order for Manchester United. United brought in Falcao on loan from Monaco in 2014 for 6 million Euros. The real bulk of the deal was the 265,000 pound a week wage that Manchster United had to pay to the Colombian. There was an option at the end of the season for United to buy Falcao for 55 million Euros. Falcao ended up making 26 appearances for United and scoring an other worldly 4 goals. United did not pick up that option, and after immensely struggling in England, Falcao was sent back to Monaco. Monaco then sent Falcao back to England with Chelsea this time! Given a second chance in England, Falcao struggled even more at Stamford Bridge. Making 10 league appearances for the club and scoring once. This time the option at the end of the deal was for Chelsea to buy Falcao for 50 million Euros. Chelsea turned down the option, and this time Falcao was back at Monaco for good. Given the captain’s armband upon arrival, Falcao has found his shooting boots once again, scoring 21 goals in just 29 league appearances. He also was a big part of Monaco’s march to the Semifinals of the Champions League, including his wonderful chip of Willy Caballero of Manchester City.
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
Wilfried Zaha now applies his trade on the bottom half of the Premier League table with Crystal Palace. Nurtured by Palace, United bought Zaha from Palace for 10 million pounds and was then loaned back to Palace in January of 2013. He would spend 3 years with United from 2013 to 2015, making a whole 2 appearances for the club while being loaned out to Palace twice and to Cardiff in 2014. Zaha would never make his breakthrough with United and he’d be sold back to Palace in summer of 2015 for 6 million pounds. He’s stayed in South London ever since, gaining a reputation as a pacey, skillful winger with no finishing to his game. This past season was his most prolific, however, netting 7 goals in the league. Zaha may play for an awful club, but Zaha is one of the best players at the bottom of the table, along with Gylfi Sigurdsson. And like Sigurdsson, Zaha may not dwell with a side in the bottom half of the table for long. Internationally, Zaha received a couple caps but in 2017 he switched allegiances to the Ivory Coast for the African Cup of Nations that took place in January.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Regarded by some as the greatest of all time after winning everything under the sun with Madrid. CR7 was dominating the world even before his world record transfer in 2009. Brought into Manchester by Sir Alex Ferguson, Ronaldo was plucked off of Sporting Club de Portugal where he was gaining a reputation as a budding young superstar. He would be sold to United for over 12 million pounds, which would be an English football record fee for a teenager. He would immediately be handed the no. 7 shirt (previously worn by George Best, Eric Cantona and David Beckham) and would become Europe’s most watched prospect. Cristiano would have to wait three years before earning his first league title in 2007. He’d even one up that in 2008 when he’d secure a league and Champions League title. His double that season, got him his first Ballon d’Or and put him up with Lionel Messi as the two best in the world. His final season at United would see Ronaldo racking up a domestic double, winning the League and League Cup. That summer, he’d be the latest galactico in Florentino Perez’s arsenal and Ronaldo would go on to directly compete with Messi time and time again. Now forever linked, Ronaldo has undoubtedly become one of the best players of his generation, with only his eternal rival, Messi being the only one that can compete with Cristiano’s absurd numbers.
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Here is the absolute, worst piece of business that Manchester United has ever made. Pogba was a graduate of Man United’s youth academy, before making his first team debut in 2011. Pogba would only make three league appearances for the club though, and in 2012, the young Frenchman left Manchester United for Juventus for absolutely nothing. Only four months later, Pogba would become a regular starter in the Juventus lineup and would become an excellent prospect in 2013/14. After winning the Golden Boy award in Europe at the end of 2013, he’d be included into France’s World Cup squad of 2014. Pogba would develop into the world’s most brilliant box to box midfielder. Winning Serie A every single season he was with Juventus, he would lose out on Champions League glory in 2015, losing out to Barcelona. He would also come an Eder 23 yard shot away from obtaining international glory in the summer of 2016. After losing out on the EUROs, Paul Pogba would sign on to the most expensive deal of all time. Manchester United would sign Pogba from Juventus for a staggering 89.3 million pounds. Pogba is a wonderful player, with an incredible ceiling, but living up to those 89.3 million big ones is going to be an incredible challenge. His first season at United was a difficult one for the Frenchman, not putting up the numbers to satisfy the masses. But many forget that he’s only 24 years old and has a couple of years until his prime. He has so much more room to grow as a midfielder and already harnesses an enormous amount of skill. Although letting a player go for free and buying them back for 89.3 million pounds isn’t necessarily good business, but he will become one of the world’s top players in due time. Maybe as soon as next year.