Whilst the January transfer window may have been an anti-climatic period of silly season speculation thus far, Manchester United continue to be linked with a host of marquee names as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seeks reinforcements before the end of the month.
Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani are amongst the players being linked with a switch to Old Trafford in recent weeks, though history tells us that the Red Devils have often been cautious spenders when it comes to the winter window.
Here are our ratings of Manchester United‘s most high profile January signings…
Louis Saha – 2004
The French forward made a big impression after signing for Fulham, helping fire the west London side to promotion to the Premier League before beginning to star in the top flight.
After taking a couple of seasons to settle at the highest level, Saha would begin the 2003/04 season in prolific fashion and soon attracted admiring glances from some of the division’s leading sides.
It would be United who would win the race for his signature in January 2004, Saha moving to Old Trafford in a £12.4m deal to bolster the club’s attacking options that already included Ruud van Nistelrooy and current boss Solskjaer.
Seven goals in his first 12 appearances would take Saha to 20 Premier League goals for the season over spells with both clubs, though injuries would soon hamper his progress as he struggled to maintain that initial impact.
The arrival of Wayne Rooney also saw Saha fall down the pecking order, though when fit he would prove to be a valuable contributor throughout his four-and-a-half year spell at the club.
Saha would leave for Everton having won two Premier League titles, a League Cup and the Champions League, the striker scoring 42 goals in 124 appearances in all competitions.
Patrice Evra – 2006
One of Sir Alex Ferguson’s best investments, United would secure the signing of Patrice Evra from Monaco in the January transfer window of 2006, the left-back arriving at Old Trafford for a fee of £5.5m.
After struggling during a baptism of fire debut in a derby defeat to Manchester City, the French full-back would begin to adapt to the demands of English football and soon establish himself as an automatic selection.
“My agent said we made a mistake joining Manchester United”@Evra reveals how he was close to pulling out of his Red Devils debut but was too scared of Sir Alex Ferguson – before being dragged off at HT
— Sky Sports MNF (@SkySportsMNF) October 21, 2019
A tenacious left-sided defender with the athletic attributes needed to contribute going forward, Evra would win the Premier League title during his first full season at the club, one of three the club would win consecutively between 2007 and 2009.
During eight years at Old Trafford, Evra would add a further two league titles alongside three League Cups and the 2008 Champions League, making 379 appearances in all competitions and being recognised as one of the best left-backs of the Premier League era.
Nemanja Vidic – 2006
Joining Evra at Manchester United in that same 2006 window would be Nemanja Vidic, the arrival of the duo surely ranking amongst the most successful transfer windows the club have enjoyed.
The Serbian international would form one of the great Premier League centre-back partnerships alongside Rio Ferdinand at the heart of the Red Devil’s defence, winning a host of major honours during his eight-year spell in English football, including five league titles, a League Cup and the 2008 Champions League.
Regarded amongst the finest defenders in world football at his peak, Vidic was an imposing figure and cornerstone during a trophy-laden period for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, being named as club captain following the retirement of Gary Neville.
Twice named as the Premier League Player of the Season during title-winning campaigns, he is the only defender to have won the award on more than one occasion.
Juan Mata – 2014
Having seen his dream appointment at Manchester United rapidly turn into a nightmare, David Moyes sought mid-season reinforcements as he desperately attempted to turn the clubs stuttering fortunes around.
Spain international Mata would be the club’s marquee signing, joining from divisional rivals Chelsea in a £37.1m deal after falling out-of-favour under Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.
The diminutive playmaker had starred for the west London side since arriving in English football, winning the Champions League, FA Cup and Europa League alongside being voted as the club’s Player of the Year in consecutive seasons.
Despite his obvious talents, however, Mata has failed to truly establish himself as a key figure during six years at the club, drifting in and out-of-favour under a succession of managers, many unsure on how to best utilise his talents.
Team success has come in the form of FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League silverware, whilst his highlights include a memorable match-winning double to secure victory against Liverpool at Anfield.
Now entering the twilight of his career, the World Cup-winning star can still contribute and adds much needed creativity to a United side lacking imagination, though the best days are perhaps now behind him.
Alexis Sanchez – 2018
United’s most high profile January acquisition and one of the great Premier League flops, Jose Mourinho sealing the signing of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in the winter window of 2018, with hopes high that the Chile international would make a huge impression.
Sanchez had established himself as one of the finest players in English football since making the move to north London from Barcelona, scoring 60 league goals in just 122 appearances and twice being named as the Gunners’ Player of the Season.
United had capitalised on his contract situation and secured his services in a swap-deal with unwanted midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, handing Sanchez a record-breaking contract worth a reported £500,000-a-week.
The move would prove to be one of the worst investments in the club’s history, however, the forward looking a shadow of his former self and struggling badly to make any kind of impact.
With confidence and form at an all-time low, Sanchez would score just three league goals in 18 months and produce a series of uninspiring displays in a United shirt.
Rarely has a Premier League player endured such a fall from grace, the marquee signing shipped out on loan to Inter Milan last summer, United still paying a significant portion of his huge wages as injury has restricted his hopes of making an impact in Italian football.