10 most expensive transfers in Manchester United history
The most successful side in Premier League history, Manchester United have been home to some of the greatest players to perform in England’s top-flight over the past few decades.
Unsurprisingly, Manchester United are well-renowned for their spending power, and they’ve signed some of the most expensive players in Premier League history.
When looking at Manchester United’s 10 most expensive signings, though, it is stunning to discover that all of them came in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.
As many people know, Manchester United have not won a Premier League title since Ferguson left the club in 2013.
So without further ado, here are Manchester United’s ten most expensive signings of all time.
All fees quoted here taken from talkSPORT.com.
#10 Anthony Martial – Monaco to Manchester United, £36m, September 2015Anthony Martial has struggled for consistency during his career at Manchester United.
Anthony Martial has struggled for consistency during his career at Manchester United.
Anthony Martial became the most expensive teenager in football history when Manchester United paid Monaco £36m for his services back in September 2015.
In fact, when all is said and done, the transfer may cost Manchester United even more – as much as £57.6m in total.
So has the French striker been a hit since arriving at Old Trafford more than half a decade ago? To be honest, the jury is still out.
Martial has acted as both a wide forward, support striker, and central striker during his time with Manchester United.
Over his five-and-a-half seasons with the club, he’s made 256 appearances and has scored 78 goals, 55 of them coming in the Premier League.
Martial has been responsible for some incredible strikes at Manchester United, including a debut goal against Liverpool and the winning goal in the 2016 FA Cup semi-final against Everton.
And the Frenchman has won a total of three major trophies with the Red Devils, too.
However, many Manchester United fans often vent frustration with Martial’s finishing ability and effort on the pitch, meaning he can’t be considered an outright success just yet.
At 25 years old, though, he’s still got plenty of time on his hands.
#9 Juan Mata – Chelsea to Manchester United, £37m, January 2014Juan Mata has struggled to produce his best form with Manchester United.
Juan Mata has struggled to produce his best form with Manchester United.
Juan Mata arrived at Manchester United in January 2014 for a large fee of £37m, in what was a bit of a shocking move at the time.
The Spanish playmaker had won Chelsea’s Player of the Year award in both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. However, he had been frozen out by new boss Jose Mourinho in the first half of the 2013-14 campaign.
His arrival at Manchester United was supposed to be the catalyst to turn around the eventually-doomed reign of David Moyes. Unfortunately, though, it didn’t quite play out like that.
Mata scored six goals in his first 15 games with United but couldn’t help them finish higher than seventh in the Premier League as Moyes was unsurprisingly fired.
The Spaniard’s best period with the Red Devils came under their next boss, Louis van Gaal. He made a total of 71 appearances over the next two seasons at Old Trafford, scoring a total of 20 goals in the process.
However, despite some shining moments, Mata was never quite as good at Manchester United as he was at Chelsea.
The Spaniard remains at Old Trafford to this day. However, his importance under Jose Mourinho and later, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has largely diminished to the point where he’d be considered a bit-part now.
Mata remains popular with United fans, and for his early impact, he can’t be considered a flop – but it’d be hard to outright consider him a success too.
#8 Nemanja Matic – Chelsea to Manchester United, £40m, July 2017Nemanja Matic enjoyed an excellent debut season with Manchester United in 2017-18.
Nemanja Matic enjoyed an excellent debut season with Manchester United in 2017-18.
Some eyebrows were raised when Manchester United parted with £40m to bring midfielder Nemanja Matic to Old Trafford from Chelsea in the summer of 2017.
Matic had been outstanding in the 2014-15 season for the Blues. He helped them win the Premier League title and was named in the PFA Team of the Year in the process.
But in the two seasons that followed, the Serbian’s legs appeared to be gone – meaning it was a surprise when he reunited with his former boss Jose Mourinho in Manchester.
However, Matic enjoyed an excellent debut season for the Red Devils in 2017-18. He appeared in 36 of their 38 Premier League games and even scored the team’s Goal of the Season with a stunning strike against Crystal Palace.
Manchester United ended up finishing second in that season in what was their best Premier League finish since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure. And Matic – shoring up his side’s midfield – definitely played his part.
In the three seasons that have followed, Matic has largely faded into the periphery somewhat and now sits behind both Scott McTominay and Fred in the pecking order.
However, he’s been a solid servant for the club since arriving in 2017 and has mostly repaid his large transfer fee.
#7 Fred – Shakhtar Donetsk to Manchester United, £47m, June 2018The jury is still out on Fred
The jury is still out on Fred’s Manchester United career.
At one point, it looked like Brazilian midfielder Fred – who moved to Manchester United for £47m in the summer of 2018 – would go down as one of the Premier League’s all-time biggest flops.
Fred arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk, and despite having plenty of experience in Europe and on the international stage, looked painfully out of his depth in the Premier League.
However, once boss Jose Mourinho was relieved of his duties in December 2018, the Brazilian midfielder slowly began to improve his performances.
Fred made just 17 Premier League appearances in his debut season for Manchester United.
Now though, he’s one of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s most regular starters, making 22 appearances in the Premier League this season already.
There are still plenty of question marks around Fred’s best position and whether he’s a genuine Champions League-caliber performer.
He rarely scores goals, and his performance against Paris St. Germain this season was absolutely appalling.
However, he is a very hard worker and appears to have won Solskjaer over thanks to his all-action style.
Whether he ever repays that £47m fee is another thing. But for now, at least, it’d be unfair to entirely write off the Brazilian as a Manchester United flop.
#6 Bruno Fernandes – Sporting CP to Manchester United, £47m, January 2020Bruno Fernandes has already proven to be a tremendous signing for Manchester United.
Bruno Fernandes has already proven to be a tremendous signing for Manchester United.
To say that the £47m fee paid to Sporting CP to bring Bruno Fernandes to Manchester United has turned out to be a bargain would be an understatement.
In fact, there’s an argument to suggest that the Portuguese attacker has been Manchester United’s most important signing of the post-Ferguson era.
Fernandes’ debut for the Red Devils was a quiet one, as his side drew 0-0 with Wolves. After that, though, the Portuguese was an absolute inspiration.
He scored eight goals and registered seven assists as Manchester United surged up the Premier League table.
In the end, they secured a Champions League berth after an unbeaten run of 14 matches – correlating perfectly to Fernandes’ arrival at Old Trafford.
The current 2020-21 campaign has seen Fernandes perform at an even higher level. In 28 Premier League appearances, he’s scored 16 goals and registered 10 assists.
Unflappable from the penalty spot and able to both finish and create chances in seemingly every game, Fernandes has added an edge that Manchester United were lacking for years.
It’s very possible that he could be named as the Premier League’s Player of the Year this season. And if he does, it’ll be a well-deserved accolade for one of the best signings in recent memory.
#5 Aaron Wan-Bissaka – Crystal Palace to Manchester United, £50m, June 2019Aaron Wan-Bissaka has helped to shore up Manchester United
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has helped to shore up Manchester United’s defense since his arrival from Crystal Palace.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka already had a reputation as one of the Premier League’s best full-backs when Manchester United parted with £50m to bring him to Old Trafford in the summer of 2019.
And for the most part, the England U-21 international has lived up to that reputation with some excellent performances for the Red Devils.
Wan-Bissaka made 35 appearances in the 2019-20 campaign. His form was partially responsible for Manchester United having the third-tightest defense in the Premier League – conceding just 36 goals.
The former Crystal Palace man has ran into some criticism for his lack of attacking verve when compared to other Premier League full-backs like Trent Alexander-Arnold.
However, he’s improved this in the current season and has two goals and two assists to his name in his 26 Premier League appearances.
But more importantly, Wan-Bissaka’s defensive skills have remained fantastic. He averages nearly three successful tackles per game and is seemingly impossible to get around at times.
His positional sense has let him down at times and has led to Manchester United conceding some questionable goals. But he’s still just 23 years old and has room to improve.
Wan-Bissaka is already on his way to repaying that £50m fee, and the likelihood is that the best is yet to come for this hugely talented player.
#4 Angel Di Maria – Real Madrid to Manchester United, £60m, August 2014Angel Di Maria is remembered as one of Manchester United
Angel Di Maria is remembered as one of Manchester United’s most expensive flops.
At the time, Angel Di Maria’s then-British record £60m move to Manchester United seemed to make all the sense in the world.
The Argentine arrived at Old Trafford with a reputation as one of the world’s most exciting attackers.
He’d won six major trophies with Real Madrid and was coming off a Man of the Match-level performance in Los Blancos’ 2014 Champions League final victory.
Unfortunately, Di Maria completely failed to live up to that reputation during his time at Old Trafford. He is now widely renowned as Manchester United’s biggest-ever expensive flop.
Inhering the club’s famous #7 shirt, Di Maria actually started his United career well. He won the Red Devils’ Player of the Month award for September 2014 after scoring two goals and registering two assists in his first four games for the club.
However, that was as good as it would get for the Argentine.
A hamstring injury derailed his season, and when he returned, he just couldn’t force himself back into United’s starting XI.
His nadir came when he was sent off for diving in an FA Cup loss to Arsenal. But to tell the truth, Manchester United fans had already lost patience with him at that point.
Di Maria’s season ended with just 27 appearances and three goals in the Premier League. And so it came as no surprise when he was solid to Paris St. Germain for around £44m in the summer of 2015.
The Argentine has seen much more success since moving to PSG, but he remains one of Manchester United’s worst-ever signings.
#3 Romelu Lukaku – Everton to Manchester United, £75m, July 2017It
It’s tricky to make a judgment on Romelu Lukaku’s time at Manchester United.
It’s largely difficult to make any sense whatsoever of Romelu Lukaku’s brief career at Manchester United.
Signed for a massive fee of £75m from Everton, on one hand, the Belgian striker was a big hit.
He scored 27 goals in 51 games in his first season at Old Trafford. Lukaku ended up as Manchester United’s top scorer as the club finished in second place in the Premier League.
It was their best finish since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, and Lukaku played a big part in that.
On the other hand, though, he was signed to help United put together a Premier League title challenge. And that didn’t happen in either of the seasons he spent at the club.
Lukaku debuted with a brace against West Ham and scored 10 goals in his first nine appearances for Manchester United, breaking a record held by the legendary Bobby Charlton.
However, despite being a favorite of Jose Mourinho – who bought him to the club – he quickly fell out of favor when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer replaced the Portuguese.
The Belgian had his work rate and even his physical shape questioned by the Norwegian, despite scoring some key goals – including two Champions League strikes against Paris St. Germain.
At the end of the 2018-19 campaign, Lukaku was surprisingly sold to Inter Milan for a fee of around €80m.
He’s gone onto score 58 goals in just 84 games for the Italian side, suggesting that Manchester United may have moved him on too quickly.
#2 Harry Maguire – Leicester City to Manchester United, £80m, August 2019Harry Maguire has often found his price tag difficult to live up to.
Harry Maguire has often found his price tag difficult to live up to.
When Manchester United signed Harry Maguire from Leicester City for a fee of £80m, the England man was instantly made the most expensive defender in football history.
That price tag has at times seemed like an albatross around the center-back’s neck. However, despite plenty of criticism, Maguire has largely performed well for the Red Devils.
He helped them finish third in the Premier League in his first season at Old Trafford, not missing a single game as United conceded just 36 goals all season.
Meanwhile, the current campaign has seen Maguire recognized for his leadership abilities and named as the club’s new captain.
Once again, Maguire has been an ever-present for United. And while he’s been culpable for some major errors, most notably in the club’s 1-6 loss to Tottenham, it’s now hard to imagine the Red Devils’ defense without him.
Whether the England international can ever truly live up to such a huge price tag is still a question mark. He certainly hasn’t had the same impact that Virgil van Dijk did when he arrived at Liverpool, for instance.
However, ignoring his transfer fee for a second, there’s no denying that Maguire has made Manchester United’s defense stronger.
And in that sense, he’s been a good, albeit very expensive, signing.
#1 Paul Pogba – Juventus to Manchester United, £89m, August 2016Paul Pogba has divided the opinion of Manchester United fans since his 2016 return to the club.
Paul Pogba has divided the opinion of Manchester United fans since his 2016 return to the club.
One of the most controversial and divisive players of the modern era, countless debates and articles have been dedicated to Paul Pogba since his £89m move to Manchester United.
The fee was always going to raise some eyebrows, particularly given that Pogba initially emerged from United’s academy before moving to Juventus in 2012.
But the Frenchman had established himself as one of the world’s best midfielders during his time at Juve, winning four Scudettos with the club.
However, since returning to Old Trafford, Pogba hasn’t been able to usher in the new era of dominance that Red Devils fans hoped he would.
He’s definitely shown flashes of his massive potential at times, scoring some spectacular goals and helping United win the EFL Cup and Europa League in 2016-17.
And in 2018-19, he enjoyed his best season as a Manchester United player, scoring 16 goals in all competitions to finish as the Red Devils’ leading goalscorer.
However, he also fell out badly with Jose Mourinho – contributing to the Portuguese boss’s firing in December 2018. And at times, it’s proven hard to decipher exactly what his best role on the pitch is.
More recently, Pogba has been largely overshadowed by Bruno Fernandes, who cost just over half of the Frenchman’s fee.
Whether Pogba stays at Old Trafford for the foreseeable future – or moves onto pastures new – is a question mark right now.
At this point, it’d be hard to claim he’s lived up to his price tag, but as with a number of the players on this list, he’s still got time to do so.