Manchester United’s search for success in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era has been a struggle, with the club having failed to win the Premier League title since the former manager’s final season.
The Red Devils are remarkably Europe’s leading spenders across the past decade, their net spend of £903m more than the likes of Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
With the vast amounts spent and no title in the past eight seasons, it’s fair to say there has been some huge waste when it comes to recruitment at Old Trafford in recent campaigns.
We’ve decided to look at some of the club’s poorest purchases, here are five of the worst value for money signings of the post-Ferguson era.
Angel Di Maria
Manchester United broke the British transfer record to sign Angel Di Maria in 2014, the deal for the winger viewed as a coup following his involvement in Real Madrid’s Champions League success the previous season.
Louis van Gaal invested £59.7m to sign Di Maria as the Red Devils backed the new manager, spending significantly following the disastrous short-lived reign of David Moyes the previous season.
Di Maria began brightly with a series of encouraging showings in the Premier League, but his form soon fell off a cliff as murmurs of unrest in England surrounded the marquee arrival.
🗣️ Angel Di Maria on his time at Manchester United:
— Man United News (@ManUtdMEN) September 2, 2021
Di Maria spent just one season with the club and whilst a return of 10 league assists was impressive, he soon made it abundantly clear he wanted out and signed for Paris Saint-Germain – at a loss of around £15m – in 2015.
The winger has since made several critical comments regarding his time at Old Trafford, including admitting he ‘didn’t give a f***’ about United’s fabled number seven after being handed the shirt upon his arrival.
It’s fair to say that neither club or player have fond memories of their brief time together.
Morgan Schneiderlin had impressed during a long spell at Southampton, helping the side progress through the divisions and secure successive top-half finishes in the Premier League.
The France international rarely looked a fine fit for Manchester United after completing a £25m move to the Red Devils, however, often looking overawed in midfield.
He failed to make an impression across 18 months in a sporadic role with the club, with the midfielder frozen out during his second campaign as he made just three appearances.
Schneiderlin signed for Everton and reunited with former Southampton boss Ronald Koeman on Merseyside, but again failed to find the form that had made his signature coveted at St Mary’s.
Manchester United spent a huge £50m to sign Aaron Wan-Bissaka from Crystal Palace, a figure that looks ever more exorbitant as the full-back struggles for form.
Wan-Bissaka had been named as the Eagles’ Player of the Season for the 2018/19 campaign, his performances persuading the Red Devils to splash a huge sum on the services of the emerging right-back.
It has proven a poor decision.
Wan-Bissaka has proven he can shackle elite wingers with excellent one-against-one defending, but he lacks the comfortability in possession, forward threat and positional intelligence of a full-back at the highest level.
In two-and-a-half seasons with the Red Devils he has provided 11 goal involvements in all competitions (2G, 9A), a haul that contemporaries Trent Alexander-Arnold (17) , Joao Cancelo (11) and Reece James (11) can equal or better when accounting the current campaign alone.
Ralf Rangnick has reportedly already decided that Wan-Bissaka is far from the level required with the previously discarded Diogo Dalot having earned a run in the side in recent weeks.
Wan-Bissaka will need a similar revival – and huge improvement in key areas – if he is to salvage a career at Old Trafford.
The most expensive defender in world football, eyebrows were raised when Harry Maguire completed an £80m move to Manchester United in 2019.
The centre-back had impressed for England at the previous summer’s World Cup and enjoyed a solid first season with the Red Devils, even being awarded the captain’s armband following the departure of Ashley Young to Inter Milan.
However, the 28-year-old has struggled since then and has endured a nightmare run of form during the current campaign, his defending erratic and movement ever more cumbersome during a torrid season to date.
Maguire’s lack of pace has been exploited on several occasions and his loss of form and confidence has led to increasingly rash decisions in a cycle the centre-back can’t escape at present.
The huge fee invested on Maguire looked extortionate on the deal’s completion, but his recent woes have made it look a staggeringly bad investment with the centre-back another whose long-term future Rangnick has reportedly called into question.
Donny van de Beek
Only those with inside access to Manchester United’s daily training will have all the information, but the club’s failure to provide Donny van de Beek with a real chance has proven puzzling from the outside.
Van de Beek arrived with high expectations after an impressive period at Ajax, shining as the Dutch side won the Eredivisie and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2018/19.
⏱️ Donny van de Beek played 30+ minutes in the Premier League for only the second time this season on his Everton debut last night
😂 He was clearly in shock! pic.twitter.com/KpifmPK9H9
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) February 9, 2022
Signed in a £34m deal, he has been afforded just four Premier League starts since his 2020 arrival in a disappointing period in English football.
His limited action has seen the Dutch international fail to convince and the arrival of Ralf Rangnick as interim manager failed to improve his prospects.
Loaned out to Everton during the January transfer window, his career with the club could be over before it ever really began.