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Rating the impact of every striker Man United have signed since Fergie retired

Manchester United has been home to some brilliant centre-forwards during the Premier League era, but the club’s search for a successful striker has been a struggle since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson.

The glory years of Eric Cantona, Andy Cole, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Wayne Rooney have seemed a long time ago across the past decade, as the Red Devils have tried and failed to recapture their former glories.

Big money has been spent – and squandered – on new faces since Ferguson’s exit in 2013 and we’ve decided to rate the impact of each forward Manchester United have signed since the Scot’s retirement.

Radamel Falcao

Radamel Falcao’s arrival was one greeted with huge excitement, as United sought star signings to begin the Louis van Gaal era. David Moyes ill-fated reign has been cut short and United backed their new manager with the high-profile arrivals of Falcao and British record signing Angel Di Maria.

El Tigre had devoured defences across Europe during spells at Porto and Atletico Madrid, but arrived in English football with rather less bite as he recovered from an ACL injury. He scored just four league goals during a disappointing season and the Red Devils opted against turning his loan into a permanent deal.

Falcao’s fortunes failed to improve during a loan spell at Chelsea the following season, before the Colombian found some of the old magic on his return to Monaco. He remains the French club’s leading scorer this century after netting 83 goals in 140 appearances.

Rating: 3/10

Memphis Depay

Memphis Depay’s reputation was on the rise when Manchester United completed a £25m deal to sign the forward from PSV Eindhoven in 2015.

Depay had top-scored in the Eredivisie the previous season and had worked under Louis van Gaal with the Dutch national side, but struggled to make the desired impact at Old Trafford. He scored two goals in 33 league appearances and was allowed to leave after just 18 months after falling out of favour following Jose Mourinho’s arrival as manager.

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The move to Manchester was perhaps a case of too much too soon for the Dutchman, who has since impressed at Lyon and Barcelona and is the second-highest goalscorer in the history of the Netherlands. Depay – who moved to Atletico Madrid last month in a cut-price deal – has scored 43 goals in 86 games at international level.

Rating: 3/10

Anthony Martial

Manchester United sprang a surprise with the £36m signing of Anthony Martial, making him the world’s most expensive teenage footballer in 2015.

Martial had scored eight goals in 31 Ligue 1 games the previous season before moving to the Premier League in a deal which could reach £58m with add-ons. He scored a spectacular goal against Liverpool to announce his arrival and scored 17 goals during his debut season, in which he won the FA Cup.

However, Martial has bettered that goal return in just one of the following six seasons, in 2019/20 when he was awarded Manchester United Players’ Player of the Year after a 23-goal campaign. Loaned to Sevilla last season, he has returned to favour under Erik ten Hag but has seen his season impacted with injuries.

At his best Martial can be a brilliant talent, but his finest performances have been infrequent. He has scored 85 goals in 283 games for the club.

Rating: 7/10

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

After more than a decade of bagging goals and hoovering up trophies across Europe’s top leagues, Zlatan Ibrahimovic embarked on a new challenge in the Premier League.

Questions were asked when United captured of the Swedish striker on a free transfer who, despite a record-breaking period at Paris Saint-Germain, was 34 and regarded as past his best.

Football’s equivalent to Benjamin Button silenced those doubters during a spectacular first season, one which saw Ibrahimovic score 28 goals in all competitions – including a match-winning brace in the EFL Cup final – and become the oldest player to reach 15 goals in a Premier League season at that time.

A serious knee injury curtailed his campaign in April and Ibrahimovic made just seven more appearances before moving on to LA Galaxy. The Swede’s spell was short but sweet.

Rating: 8/10

Romelu Lukaku

Ibrahimovic’s exit came after Manchester United splashed the cash to sign Romelu Lukaku from Everton.

Lukaku had scored 87 goals in 166 appearances for Everton after leaving Chelsea in search of regular first-team football, form which persuaded the Red Devils to spend an initial £75m on the Belgium international.

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Lukaku scored 27 goals during an encouraging debut season, but fell out of favour following the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskajer as manager. After becoming a target for the critics, he was allowed to leave for Inter Milan after two seasons. He departed with a respectable return of 42 goals from 96 games.

Rating: 6/10

Alexis Sanchez

Manchester United have had no shortage of disappointing signings in the post-Fergie era, but Alexis Sanchez must rank right near the very top.

The Chile international was one of the best players in the Premier League at Arsenal, a whirlwind of energy and goals during a prolific period in north London. United had appeared to pull off a masterstroke with a swap-deal to sign Sanchez, capitalising on his contract situation to land the forward in exchange for the unwanted Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Sanchez struggled badly and looked a shadow of his former self, as he scored just three goals in 32 league appearances. It was another star signing that United failed to get a tune from, aside from his piano playing unveiling…

Rating: 2/10

Odion Ighalo

A desperate search for a centre-forward saw Odion Ighalo parachuted into the club on loan in 2020, as the Red Devils added depth to their options with the capture of the ex-Watford frontman.

Ighalo returned to England after a spell at Shanghai Shenhua and became a popular figure across the course of his loan. The Nigerian failed to start a league fixture, but netted five times in 11 appearances in cup competition.

An unfashionable signing, but one who executed his brief as a back-up option.

Rating: 5/10

Edinson Cavani

Edinson Cavani signed for Manchester United on a free transfer in 2020, arriving from Paris Saint-Germain as the club’s all-time record goalscorer.

El Matador had been one of Europe’s finest finishers in France and proved the instincts that had defined his career had not left him during a productive first season. Cavani scored 17 goals in all competitions, including a 40-yard lob against Fulham and an equaliser in the Europa League final against Villarreal.

Cavani was reaching the end of his career at the highest level, but his willingness to work and unsettle defenders made him an appreciated figure at Old Trafford. He moved on to Valencia last summer after an injury-impacted second season and the 35-year-old has since scored seven goals in 15 appearances for the Spanish side.

Rating: 7/10

Cristiano Ronaldo

Manchester United fans celebrated the return of an iconic figure when the club announced an agreement had been reached to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo had won three league titles, a Ballon d’Or and the Champions League during his first spell at the club, before becoming Real Madrid’s record goalscorer and cementing his status as one of the game’s all-time greats.

After three years at Juventus he returned to Manchester amid much fanfare and marked his second debut with two goals against Newcastle. Ronaldo ended the season with 18 league goals and was awarded United’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award.

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However, a failure to secure Champions League qualification saw unrest begin to emerge and Ronaldo expressed a desire for a summer exit. No side made their move, resulting in a difficult relationship with new manager Erik ten Hag.

The deteriorating situation led to an explosive and controversial interview from Ronaldo, in which he criticised leading figures at the club and said he had no respect for Ten Hag. An inevitable exit soon followed, with his reputation having taken a hit. Hopes of a move to a European heavyweight failed to materialise and Ronaldo instead signed for Saudi side Al Nassr.

Rating: 6/10

Wout Weghorst

Wout Weghorst is the latest name tasked with providing goals for Manchester United, having signed a loan deal from Burnley until the end of the season.

Weghorst’s move to Manchester has drawn comparisons with Odion Ighalo, an addition lacking glamour but one with the attributes to be a useful acquisition.

Despite struggling at Burnley last season, Weghorst scored 59 goals in 118 Bundesliga appearances for Wolfsburg before his move to England last winter.

At 6ft 6in, he offers a different option to Erik ten Hag and scored his first goal for the club against Nottingham Forest earlier this month. It was the sort of poacher’s effort the club will hope to see more of as the season progresses.

Rating: Too soon to judge

Read – 90s Hitmen: Andy Cole, an elite marksman criminally under appreciated

Read Also – Noughties Nines: The greatest assassin, Ruud van Nistelrooy

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