Jose Mourinho’s time as manager at Manchester United started well. The Red Devils won their first game with him in charge, setting a trend that would culminate in them lifting the League Cup and Europa League in 2017.
However, despite a successful first season, things quickly began to unravel for the Special One. As well as lacklustre performance on the pitch, Mourinho was draining the coffers at Old Trafford. Eventually, the board decided that enough was enough. After less than three years in the job, Mourinho was finally given his marching orders.
It’s thought Mourinho spent a staggering £400 million on transfers during his time with Manchester United. However, few of these signings are fondly remembered. Read on as we revisit all 11 and see what those big-ticket signings are doing now.
Mourhino’s first move as manager was to bring in Eric Bailly from La Liga’s Villarreal in a deal worth a reported £30 million. Sadly, a succession of injuries would plague his time with United. He remained with the team until 2023 but was loaned out to Marseille for the 2022-23 season. He currently plays for the Turkish team Beşiktaş.
This Armenian joined the Red Devils from Borussia Dortmund in a deal said to be worth £30 million. After a spectacular last season with Dortmund, Mkhitaryan’s form was mixed at Old Trafford. During his second season, he departed for Arsenal as part of a transfer deal by Mourinho to secure Alexis Sanchez. The Gunners loaned him out to Roma before he finally landed with his current club, Inter Milan.
In 2017, Neymar’s transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain broke all records in a deal worth €222 million. A year previously, it was the £89 million paid out for Paul Pogba that was grabbing headlines. A welcome sight at Old Trafford, this would be a homecoming for Pogba who’d already spent two seasons playing for the Manchester United U21 squad and made three appearances alongside the senior team. He’d ultimately depart for Juventus again, on a free transfer, in 2022.
Victor Lindelof’s signing to Manchester United was thought to be worth up to £30 million when it was completed in 2017. Was all that money worth it? After a shaky start, Lindelof found a place for himself in the squad and remains with the club.
The star striker became Mourhino’s first high-profile signing after a transfer deal was finalised with Paris Saint-Germain. A strong debut season was cut short by injury, with Ibrahimovic later released from his contract early. He capped off his senior career with three years at AC Milan, before retiring altogether after his last Serie A game earlier this year.
He remains busy beyond the pitch, announcing his own curated collection for high-street fashion chain H&M in November 2023.
More than £40 million was paid for the Serbian midfielder in 2017. He’d had a good run with Chelsea under Mourhino’s watch and made a solid impression during Man United’s 2017/18 campaign.
However, he became a less frequent fixture on the pitch, with younger players getting priority. He left for a season-long stint at Roma in 2022, before moving to Rennes the following year.
The best bookies don’t disappoint when it comes to top-scorer odds. For many punters, there are few safer wagers than putting their money on Romelu Lukaka.
The top goalscorer in his native Belgium, Lukaku was the obvious choice when Mourhino started looking for a new striker. Mourhino paid £75 million to secure Lukaku from Everton, but dreams of a steady stream of goals never came to fruition. He left for Inter Milan in 2019, before being poached by Chelsea. He’s since been loaned back out to Inter Milan, as well as Roma.
The first signing of the 2018 summer transfer window, Fred arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk in a deal worth £47 million. Considering that price tag and a big reputation, many fans were rightly expecting big things from Fred. His first season with Man United failed to make an impression and his midfield potential was rarely utilised, but he dug his heels in and earned the respect of new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Fred stayed with Man United until 2023, before signing a four-year contract with Turkish team Fenerbahçe.
Alexis Sanchez was locked down in a swap deal in 2018. Considered one of the best players in the Premier League at that time, this was seen as a major victory for Mourhino. Sadly, the Chilean’s time with Man United was nothing but disappointing. It was also one of Mourinho’s most expensive mistakes. Sanchez scored only three goals during his time at Old Trafford, despite banking half a million in wages every week. He was later loaned out to Inter Milan, before signing with the Italian side permanently. After a single season at Marseille in 2022-23, he rejoined Inter Milan last summer.
Lee Grant might have only been signed as third choice goalkeeper, but the move to Manchester United represented a career upgrade fort he veteran shot-stopper. In 2018, his former team Stoke City was floundering in the relegation zone and coming to the end of a decade in the Premier League. His two-year contract was thought to be worth £1.5 million, although Grant signed two extension deals to remain with Man United until 2022. He then retired from play altogether, taking on coaching duties at Ipswich Town.
Diogo Dalot was a relative newcomer when he was lifted from Porto in a deal worth £19 million. He made more than 20 appearances in his first season, but initial success was derailed by injuries. What’s more, his defensive strength was questioned. He was loaned out to AC Milan in 2020, before returning to Old Trafford in 2021 where his contract was recently extended to 2028.