By William Hill
Last Updated: 22nd November 2019
Manchester United have been arguably the defining force of English football since the formation of the Premier League in 1992.
While early success was driven by the Class of ’92, plenty of United’s success was found from the transfer market, with shrewd business combined with big signings that paid off such as Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand.
However, the Red Devils haven’t always been astute buyers. We look at some of the worst signings made by the Old Trafford outfit in the Premier League era.
Memphis Depay – PSV Eindhoven, 2015 – £25m
After winning the title and Golden Boot in the Eredivisie, Memphis Depay was primed to set the world alight. However, the physical element of the Premier League seemed to affect the Dutchman, who came under fire from Ryan Giggs for his flashy lifestyle. Despite good performances in Europe, Depay was used sparingly in the league and was sold to Lyon after just 18 months at Old Trafford, whilst also pursuing a music career part-time.
Angel Di Maria – Real Madrid, 2014 – £59.7m
Angel Di Maria arrived from Real Madrid to incredible fanfare. A British transfer record, a star international in his prime, and a sign that United were back under Louis van Gaal. One season later, after not settling in and just three league goals, he was shipped off to Paris Saint-Germain for a £15m loss. Unfortunately this transfer was reflective of the turmoil post-Sir Alex Ferguson, as United threw large sums at players to little effect.
Massimo Taibi – Venezia, 1999 – £4.5m
Massimo Taibi was an injury replacement in truth, with United looking for cover after injuries to both Mark Bosnich and Raimond van der Gouw. Brought in from Venezia, on his debut he made a mistake against Liverpool, allowing Sami Hyypia to score, but still got Man of the Match. However, after a horrific gaffe against Southampton, the media quickly turned, and he ended up playing only four times for United, before quickly being sent on loan back to Italy. He returned permanently in the summer to his home nation, but his brief stint in the Premier League still brings back bad memories for Red Devils fans.
Alexis Sanchez – Arsenal, 2018 – Player swap deal
After an excellent stint at Arsenal, where he averaged just under a goal every two games, Alexis Sanchez felt he deserved better and moved to United in search of titles, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan going the other way in a rare swap deal. Red Devils fans were excited, but the deal turned out to be a disaster. Shattering the club’s wage structure, Sanchez went on to score just three times in 32 league appearances, essentially earning an astronomical amount of money for very little output. United even struggled to get rid of him due to his wages and he currently plies his trade for Inter Milan, albeit only on loan from the Red Devils.
Juan Sebastian Veron – Lazio, 2001 – £28.1m
Undoubtedly one of the best players in the world in the late ’90s, Juan Sebastian Veron joined United for a huge fee at the time and was the most expensive English transfer ever when unveiled in July 2001. He started well, winning Player of the Month in September of his first season, however, he quickly tired as the pace of the Premier League troubled him. While seven goals in 51 league appearances wasn’t a bad return for the midfielder, fans and pundits alike agreed he was an expensive flop, especially with expectations so high. He left to join Chelsea after just two seasons, but didn’t perform very well there either.