Ed Woodward's Manchester United transfers - ranked and rated

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·8 min read
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Ed Woodward's Manchester United transfers - ranked and rated
Ed Woodward's Manchester United transfers - ranked and rated

Ed Woodward was appointed vice-chairman of Manchester United in 2013 and has overseen the biggest transfers in the club’s history, including breaking the Premier League transfer record with the purchase of Paul Pogba.

But many of the signings under Woodward's watch proved to be expensive mistakes. After it was announced he would be leaving United at the end of the year - following the collapse of the European Super League - we rank his major signings from best to worst:

Bruno Fernandes (2020, Sporting Lisbon)

Portuguese midfielder galvanised United’s season when he joined them midway through the 2019/20 campaign. Initial fee of £47million was excellent work in the market and he has already increased in value.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2016, free transfer)

One of the best free-agent signings in the Premier League, having an instant impact on his team-mates and helping United win the EFL Cup and Europa League. His whirlwind spell in England ended with injury.

Luke Shaw (2014, Southampton)

Shaw’s £30m deal made him the world’s most expensive teenager and after a horrific leg-break and being sidelined by Jose Mourinho, he has fought his way back into the England squad and is a key player for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Harry Maguire (2019, Leicester)

The England centre-back became the world’s most expensive defender when he joined for £85m, following previous failed attempts to land him. He has been appointed United captain and has played in every Premier League game this season, and looks an important part of the team going forward.

Harry Maguire has been appointed Man Utd captain - PA
Harry Maguire has been appointed Man Utd captain - PA

Ander Herrera (2014, Athletic Bilbao)

United activated Herrara's buyout clause to land him for £29m and he could not be faulted for effort during his five years at the club before leaving for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer. Started in both cup final wins in 2017.

Juan Mata (2014, Chelsea)

Dramatic January signing when he arrived for £37.1m, which was a club record at the time. He never became the player to inspire United to a Premier League title, but notched double figures for goals in his first three seasons.

Paul Pogba (2016, Juventus)

Brought back to the club where he played youth football in a Premier League record £89m deal that still stands today. Pogba has given United his peak years during a time of transition for the club but has not been a match-winner often enough.

Nemanja Matic (2017, Chelsea)

Woodward had to pay a “Lukaku Tax” on the Serbia midfielder. Chelsea drove the hardest bargain possible to get £40m for the 28-year-old after United had snatched Romelu Lukaku from under their noses. Matic has proved dependable.

Anthony Martial (2015, Monaco)

United moved swiftly to land the France forward in a £36m deal that could rise to £58m, another record fee for a teenager. He has never consistently delivered on his huge potential.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka (2019, Crystal Palace)

Deal was worth £45m plus £5m in add-ons and part of the cultural reboot under Solskjaer, who looks to work with young, hungry homegrown players. Wan-Bissaka has been a regular starter and is still improving.

Dan James (2019, Swansea City)

The Wales forward is good value at £15m plus add-ons after United, with Solskjaer using his pace in the first-team this season instead of loaning him out for guaranteed games.

Edinson Cavani (2020, free transfer)

At 33 he was another good free agent to pick up. When the Uruguay striker has been on the pitch he has shown his class with 10 goals during the season. But now undecided on whether to stay in England or return to South America.

Edinson Cavani has shown his goalscoring prowess at Old Trafford - Shutterstock
Edinson Cavani has shown his goalscoring prowess at Old Trafford - Shutterstock

Amad Diallo (2020, Atalanta)

At £37m, the teenager looked expensive but has shown glimpses of his promise in Europa League matches and there are high hopes of him becoming one of the stars of the Premier League.

Victor Lindelof (2017, Benfica)

He has been a regular in defence this season alongside Maguire but does not dominate games, with United in the market for a centre-back to add competition in that area. At £31m it is not money wasted but the Sweden international is not the answer to United becoming title contenders.

Daley Blind (2014, Ajax)

One of the signings Louis van Gaal could trust when he came to the club and good value at £13.8m. He played against his old club Ajax when United won the Europa League under Mourinho and headed back to Amsterdam.

Sergio Romero (2015, free transfer)

Van Gaal knew him from AZ Alkmaar and the Argentina goalkeeper was good back-up for David de Gea when he arrived on a free after a spell at Sampdoria in Italy. But considering he played in a World Cup final, his United career has been a waste.

Romelu Lukaku (2017, Everton)

Strange two seasons for the Belgium striker after arriving in a £75m deal. He started like he would be United’s centre-forward for years to come but had lost confidence during Mourinho’s last days as manager, and then was not part of Solskjaer’s plan - yet is flourishing at Inter Milan.

Marouane Fellaini (2013, Everton)

United showed naivety in the transfer market when attempting to get David Moyes players in his first summer. Fellaini had a £23.5m buy-out clause earlier in the window but after it expired, Woodward had to £4m more to land the player.

Marouane Fellaini struggled at United - Manchester United 
Marouane Fellaini struggled at United - Manchester United

Victor Valdes (2015, free transfer)

The former Barcelona goalkeeper arrived on sizeable wages as a free agent but never provided competition for de Gea and ended up going out on loan to Standard Liege before leaving for Middlesbrough on another free.

Fred (2018, Shakhtar Donetsk)

His Ukrainian club were understood to be stunned at landing a deal for £52m for the Brazilian, having expected to receive less earlier in the window. He has not dominated games for United and has been error-prone at times.

Matteo Darmian (2015, Torino)

Hailed as the next Gary Neville when he arrived for £12.7m, he never showed consistency at right-back and looks better suited back in Italy where he has been with Parma and had a spell at Inter on loan.

Eric Bailly (2016, Villarreal)

Has been beset by injuries during his five years at the club and simply not played enough to be good value for the £30m paid in the same summer as Pogba and Mourinho. Now approaching final year of contract with potential still unfulfilled.

Marcos Rojo (2014, Sporting Lisbon)

He looked a good signing at £16m but barely played in his final few years at the club before returning to Argentina with Boca Juniors. Another player who has shone at a World Cup but not at Old Trafford.

Alex Telles (2020, Porto)

At £13.6m rising to £18.1m, the Brazil full-back has been an expensive back-up this season and not made a huge impression but at least can be credited for providing competition for Shaw and getting the best out of the England international.

Diogo Dalot (2018, Porto)

Mourinho called him one of the most promising full-backs in Europe when he arrived for £19m but he has never shown that and was loaned to AC Milan this season where he looks more comfortable.

Morgan Schneiderlin (2015, Southampton)

Brought in for £25m but proved to be an expensive mistake as the Frenchman failed to show the form he had at Southampton. Lasted 18 months before being sold at a loss to Everton where he was reunited with Ronald Koeman.

Memphis Depay (2015, PSV)

The Dutchman's excellent form at Lyon only adds salt to the wound after a disastrous £25m move. Depay didn't settle in Manchester and lasted less than two seasons. Now back on the radar of European heavyweight clubs.

Memphis Depay is thriving at Lyon - GETTY IMAGES
Memphis Depay is thriving at Lyon - GETTY IMAGES

Bastian Schweinsteiger (2015, Bayern Munich)

Never showed any of his class following his £6.5m move and ended up flying off straight after games to watch his wife play tennis, which did not sit well with team-mates. Allowed to join Chicago Fire once a deal could be struck for him to leave.

Donny van de Beek (2020, Ajax)

Last summer’s £40m arrival just cannot break into the first-team under Solskjaer and has cut a frustrated figure on the bench. There is still time, but at the moment it does not look like a good deal.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan (2016, Borussia Dortmund)

The £30m signing started in the Europa League final in 2017 but his standing at the club was confirmed when he was part of a swap deal for Alexis Sanchez.

Angel Di Maria (2015, Real Madrid)

Another player who has excelled away from United. Woodward broke the British record transfer fee at the time with the £59.7m purchase but the Argentina winger never found his rhythm at Old Trafford.

Alexis Sanchez (2018, Arsenal)

Woodward was willing to pay whatever it took to land the Chile forward from under the noses of Manchester City, shelling out up to £500,000-a-week after bonuses and image rights. But Sanchez lost his spark and was loaned out the following year.