Most costly Man Utd failures and what happened after their Old Trafford nightmares including Di Maria, Lukaku and Sancho
MANCHESTER UNITED are still the most-successful in the Premier League era – but they have made several expensive mistakes along the way.With 13 Prem titles in the bank, the Red Devils have had countless superstars pull on their famous jersey over recent years.
Massimo Taibi was a complete disaster for Sir Alex FergusonCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd
United have a history of making some incredible signings.
Even as recently as last summer, they also have a knack for spending big on flops with £86million Antony still struggling to make an impact.
From Alexis Sanchez and Angel Di Maria to Juan Sebastian Veron and Romelu Lukaku, check out our best XI of United mega-money failures.
And we start in goal:
GOALKEEPER – Massimo Taibi
Cost: £4.5m from Venezia (1999)
Sir Alex Ferguson was struggling to replace Peter Schmeichel and forked out £4.5m to Venezia for the Italian back in 1999.
After flapping at a free-kick on his debut against Liverpool that allowed Sami Hyypia to score things failed to get better.
In September he famously allowed a weak shot from Southampton’s Matthew Le Tissier slip through his legs and into the net, leading to him being dubbed ‘The Blind Venetian’ by a newspaper.
Taibi only played once more for United, which was a crushing 5–0 defeat at Chelsea that October, before he headed back to his homeland.
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Matteo Darmian cost United nearly £13m from TorinoCredit: AP:Associated Press
DEFENDER – Matteo Darmian
Cost: £12.9m from Torino (2015)
Darmian has played 60 times in the Premier League in four years at United, but never made the right-back slot his own.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s arrival saw his surplus to requirements, and he joined Parma on a four-year deal in 2019.
Most recently, he became a Serie A winner with Inter Milan on loan.
Daley Blind did not have much to smile about during his stint at UnitedCredit: Getty – Contributor
DEFENDER – Daley Blind
Cost: £14m from Ajax (2014)
Always a tough one to judge, Blind both proved he was a good footballer and failed to shine while at Man Utd.
After four years at the club, Blind opted to head back to Ajax where he has gone on to become a key player once more – and helped his side reach the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.
Marcos Rojo was plagued by injuries while at Old TraffordCredit: Getty – Contributor
DEFENDER – Marcos Rojo
Cost: £16m from Sporting Lisbon (2014)
Rojo was plagued by injuries and lack of form in his five years at the club.
Back in February 2021, the Argentinian finally ended his Old Trafford nightmare by signing for Boca Juniors.
Morgan Schneiderlin failed to hit the heights at Old TraffordCredit: PA:Empics Sport
MIDFIELDER – Morgan Schneiderlin
Cost: £24m from Southampton (2015)
After seven years at Saints, Schneiderlin was supposed to be United’s midfield maestro for years to come.
But after just two years, the France star was shipped off to Everton with 32 very underwhelming appearances under his belt.
He’s now at Nice after his three-year stint on Merseyside.
Sir Alex Ferguson splashed out £28m to sign Juan Sebastian VeronCredit: Getty
MIDFIELDER – Juan Sebastian Veron
Cost: £28m from Lazio (2001)
Arguably one of the best midfielders of his generation, the only positive about Veron’s time at United was that at least it was better than his time at Chelsea.
Both transfers frequently pop up in ‘worst Premier League transfers of all-time’ lists – and with good reason.
The ex-Lazio man could have helped United be as unstoppable in Europe as they were domestically, but alas, it wasn’t to be.
Antony has not lived up to the hype of an £86m signingCredit: Alamy
WINGER – Antony
Cost: £86m from Ajax (2022)
Antony was signed with much fanfare by his former coach Erik ten Hag for a staggering £86m fee.
And he got off to the best possible start by scoring on his debut against Arsenal at Old Trafford in a 3-1 win earlier in the campaign.
However, since then he’s been labelled one dimensional.
Eight goals in 39 games is a huge disappointment in his first campaign.
Still time to turn it around, though.
Angel Di Maria started well but soon dipped at the Red DevilsCredit: Getty
WINGER – Angel Di Maria
Cost: £59.7m from Real Madrid (2014)
Superb at Real, brilliant at Paris Saint-German… bang average at United.
Yes, we all remember his blistering first few weeks and that goal against Leicester, but what else did Di Maria do at Old Trafford? Very, very little.
His single season at United, in which he and his family suffered a traumatic burglary while at their home, was worth nowhere near the £59.7m spent, before he went on to thrive in Ligue 1.
Alexis Sanchez had an absolute stinker at UnitedCredit: Reuters
FORWARD – Alexis Sanchez
Cost: Free from Arsenal (2018)
A free signing. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, throwing £505,000-a-week down the drain and struggling to sell him due to his wages, that’s what.
Former Barcelona and Arsenal star Sanchez scored three – just THREE – goals during his 18 months at Old Trafford… that’s roughly £40m in wages.
After a loan spell, he left United for Inter Milan permanently in 2020.
Romelu Lukaku failed to sparkle after his big move from EvertonCredit: Getty
FORWARD – Romelu Lukaku
Cost: £75m from Everton (2017)
Both Chelsea and United were chasing Lukaku and Alvaro Morata in the summer of 2017.
Maybe things would have been different for the two flop strikers had they switched destinations.
But Lukaku – save for a few brief matches where he showed his unstoppable potential – was dreadful at United… at least, by the standard we now hold him to.
Shipped off to Inter, Lukaku became one of Europe’s most-feared strikers thanks to his knack for scoring goals and that form secured him a £97.5m return to Chelsea.
Although he has since struggled there and was loaned back to Inter.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan only played 39 times for the Red Devils in the Premier LeagueCredit: PA:Press Association
FORWARD – Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Cost: £30m from Borussia Dortmund (2016)
Sought-after by a host of Europe’s giants during his days in Ukraine and Germany, Man Utd won the race for Mkhitaryan’s signature.
But after 39 disappointing Premier League appearances he was part of the ill-fated swap deal with Arsenal for Sanchez.
He’s now performing admirably at Serie A side Roma. More