It was a long year for United fans last season. Although they did not expect to be as successful with the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, the Old Trafford faithful never conceived they wouldn’t even make it into the Europa League, finishing a lowly 7th place.
But now under new boss Louis van Gaal – who guided the Netherlands to 3rd in the World Cup – supporters are hoping for a much better term.
The Dutchman’s first move was to purchase Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera, with big things expected of the duo. But United are done here, with several more new names likely to join the Premier League’s biggest club.
Will their new recruits become the stars of the future? A signing which fans can one day turn back and say was one of the best transfers of all time?
Here we look back at the top FIVE best Manchester United signings in Premier League history…
When Manchester United spent a massive £19million for PSV Eindhoven striker Ruud van Nistelrooy back in 2001, fans were extremely critical of their manager buying a rather unproven striker for such a high fee.
But it proved to be a stroke of genius, as Van Nistelrooy bagged 23 goals (only losing out to Thierry Henry’s 24) in his first season, as well as scoring 10 in the UEFA Champions League. He finished the season as the PFA Player of the Year, and has gone on to become Manchester United’s record leading European scorer with 38 goals.
He became a legend at Old Trafford – like many others – before Real Madrid swooped in for the Dutch striker.
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Rooney was signalled by, ironically, then Everton manager David Moyes to become one of the best ever English players, and he wasn’t wrong.
Five days before his 17th birthday, Rooney came on as a substitute against Arsenal with the Gunners currently on a 30-game unbeaten run… and as fate would have it scored the winning goal in the last minute of the fixture. A star was born.
Only two years later Manchester United paid £26million for the then 18-year-old (the highest ever fee for a teenager at the time), but it would be one of United ‘s best ever purchases as not only did Rooney score a hat-trick in a Champions League game on his debut, but has gone on to be a Man United icon for the past decade.
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Although Van der Sar came from Fulham for a reportedly peanuts fee of £2million, the Dutch goal-keeper has been on United’s radar for quite some time.
His exploits with Ajax from 1992-1999 saw him emerge as one of the best young goalkeepers in Europe, and the Red Devils were interested in purchasing the keeper. However Juventus beat them to the punch, but was finally brought to Old Trafford six years later.
And after calamitous keeper after keeper, Man United finally signed a shot-stopper to make fans forget about the legendary Peter Schmeichel. ‘The Wall’ played a pivotal role in United’s success over the next several years, with important saves winning them league titles as well as the Champions League.
David de Gea had big gloves to fill now between the United sticks, but if he is anything close to Van der Sar’s ability he would be another legendary transfer.
Oh Cristiano Ronaldo… how the Old Trafford faithful miss you.
United were interested in the then young winger when Alex Fegurson’s side face Sporting Lisbon during a pre-season friendly in 2003, with Gary Neville insisting that his boss purchase the mercurial starlet.
And after a transfer fee of £12.5million, Ronaldo made the switch to the Red Devils… and he never looked back. ‘CR7’ developed to become the undoubted star in the 2006-2007 season, winning his first league title as well as the PFA Player of the Year. He continued that streak next term, scoring 35 Premier League goals in a single campaign.
Ronaldo not only won trophies and personal accolades, but he was a marketing tool not seen since the rise of David Beckham. He was purchased by Real Madrid for a then record £80million transfer fee, and United fans have been longing for him to return ever since.
The best Manchester United signing in Premier League history could only be Eric Cantona.
Back during the days when Manchester United were not yet dominating the world of football, Alex Ferguson signed Eric Cantona from Leeds with a meagre £1.2million. The Frenchman wasn’t even expected to start, but with Dion Dublin injured and Mark Hughes off-form, Cantona stepped up and led the Red Devils to their first Premier League title.
And it dawned a new era… and not only did Cantona not look back but Manchester United followed suit. The Red Devils won four league titles during his five year tenure with United (and their only loss to Blackburn was when Cantona was banned), putting the Old Trafford club firmly as England’s best football team.
He may have had his off-field (and on-field) controversies, but while on form at full pace there weren’t many players that were as joyful to watch.
Cantona is Manchester United’s, and probably the Premier League’s, best ever transfer.