Soccer

Who are Manchester United's top 10 flops in Premier League history?

Will Donny van de Beek go down as one of Manchester United’s biggest transfer flops EVER? His £40m nightmare is threatening to join the likes of Bebe, Sanchez, Djemba-Djemba in the hall of shame… and here are the worst 10 of them all

  • Donny van de Beek reportedly wants to quit Manchester United this summer
  • If he does he leave then it would represent a bad signing by the Red Devils
  • Sportsmail looks at the Old Trafford’s 10-worst signings in the Premier League

Could Donny van de Beek’s career at Manchester United last just one season?

According to reports, the £40million summer signing wants out of Old Trafford after failing to cement a first-team spot this campaign.

The 23-year-old has only made two Premier League starts since joining the Red Devils, in a grave concern to the midfielder.

If Van de Beek was to leave United at the end of the season, it would represent one of the club’s worst-ever signings.

And on that note, Sportsmail has provided a subjective list of their top 10 flops during the Premier League era.

Donny van de Beek is reportedly ready to quit Manchester United at the end of the season

The midfielder is said to be frustrated over his lack of game time since his £40million move

The 23-year-old has started just two Premier League games under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

10. Memphis Depay (£25m)

George Best, Bryan Robson, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. Some illustrious names have worn the club’s iconic No 7 shirt and it was hoped that Memphis Depay would follow in their shoes. In reality those shoes were too big for the Holland international.

After a promising start, which saw him link up well with Luke Shaw down United’s left-hand side, Depay’s form began to tail off under Louis van Gaal.

He was hooked at half-time of their 3-0 pasting at Arsenal on October 4, 2015 and followed that anonymous display with another just two months later against Stoke City. During that 2-0 defeat on Boxing Day, the winger was at fault for the Potters’ opener when his terrible header allowed Glen Johnson to assist Bojan Krkic after 19 minutes.

His best display came later that season against Danish side Midtjylland in the Europa League but those efforts were too fleeting during his career at Old Trafford. Left the club after just 18 months in January 2017 to join Lyon and has been revitalised in France since.

Great things were expected of Memphis Depay but he failed to live up to his hype at United

A World Cup winner with Germany and a mainstay in Bayern Munich’s dominance, it was hoped that Bastian Schweinsteiger’s experience would restore United to former glories.

Signed by Van Gaal, the two had worked together at Bayern and there was belief they could replicate their success in Bavaria to Manchester.

It wasn’t to be though. He featured 31 times in his debut campaign but his fortunes changed once Van Gaal was sacked and replaced by Jose Mourinho. Just like with Depay, the Portuguese boss didn’t fancy this signing made by his predecessor.

He was told to train with the Under-23s in pre-season ahead of the 2016-17 term and only featured four times that campaign before he was released from his contract in March 2017 to join MLS side Chicago Fire.

Bastian Schweinsteiger was meant to provide a winning mentality at United but disappointed

8. Eric Djemba-Djemba (£3.5m)

So bad they named him twice? Often ridiculed as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst-ever signings, the Cameroonian joined during the 2003 summer window – the same time a certain Ronaldo did.

Djemba-Djemba was seen as the long-term heir to Roy Keane in central midfield but the veteran captain lasted longer than his supposed replacement.

He spent two years at Old Trafford before heading for Aston Villa. After leaving the Midlands outfit in 2007 his nomadic career took him to the likes of Qatar, Israel and India.

According to The Sun, the 39-year-old was still playing football as of last year – plying himself in the Swiss fifth tier for amateur side FC Vallorbe-Ballaigues.

Eric Djemba-Djemba (right) lasted two seasons at Old Trafford being being offloaded in 2005

7. Kleberson (£6.5m)

Another one who joined in the summer of 2003, Kleberson’s career very much went the way of Djemba-Djemba, rather than Ronaldo.

If there was promise with Djemba-Djemba, then there was more than that with Kleberson – who had played a key role in Brazil winning the the World Cup the year before.

The midfielder attracted a plethora of European clubs with his displays during that tournament but it was United who beat everyone to his signature. They probably wish they didn’t.

He only made 20 appearances over two years for the Red Devils before being sold to Besiktas.

Kleberson (left) was unveiled the same day as Cristiano Ronaldo but didn’t mirror his success

6. Radamel Falcao (£6m, loan)

A gamble that didn’t pay off. Radamel Falcao’s reputation at the time was as one of the world’s best strikers having excelled at Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco.

However, during his debut season at the latter (2013-14) he suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage in January, which kept him out of that summer’s World Cup.

His season-long loan at United on deadline day (September 2, 2014) saw them pay all of his £265,000-a-week wages.

They also had the option to buy him for £43.5m at the end of the loan spell, but that clause wasn’t met as he struggled in England.

He scored just four goals in 29 appearances for the club and looked a shadow of his old predatory self.

Radamel Falcao was a shadow of his former self when he joined United on loan from Monaco

5. Juan Sebastian Veron (£28.1m)

The man who was supposed to guide Manchester United back to European dominance, Juan Sebastian Veron alongside Paul Scholes and Keane in midfield was a tantalising prospect for everyone connected to the club.

The Argentine arrived from Italian giants Lazio in a £28.1m move – fee that would equate to around four times that in the current market.

He hit the ground running with four goals in his first eight games and even won the Premier League Player of the Month award for September.

However, he soon began to struggle with the demands of English football and became a luxury player in Ferguson’s formations. This wasn’t the case in Europe where he often excelled in a 4-5-1 formation in the Champions League, but a 4-4-2 in England found him exposed at times.

After two seasons, Ferguson cut his losses and sold him to Chelsea for £15m.

Juan Sebastian Veron (right) fared better in Europe for United than he did in England

4. Bebe (£7.4m)

The fact that he was signed by Manchester United without Ferguson watching him was alarming and a mistake the legendary Scot admitted later on.

The Red Devils hoped they had another Ronaldo on their hands when they signed him out of the blue from Portuguese outfit Vitoria de Guimaraes in 2010.

Bebe made seven appearances in his first season and none in the following three years as he spent the majority of that out on loan.

‘I know Real Madrid were hovering and so were Benfica,’ Ferguson said for his signing of the winger. ‘It was one of those decisions that had to be made quickly.

‘Sometimes you have to go on instinct and sometimes you have to trust your staff as well. This was a first for me, but we rate our scouting department very highly and our scout in Portugal was adamant we needed to do something.’

He probably wishes he didn’t rush into that. 

Bebe made seven appearances for the Red Devils, all in the first season, before being shipped

3. Massimo Taibi (£4.5m)

Massimo Taibi. Matt Le Tissier. Nutmeg.

Those six words instantly conjure that horrific piece of goalkeeping from the Italian, which to this day is still remembered by those within football. 

Taibi joined United in 1999 for £4.5m, after the legendary Peter Schmeichel had left, but he returned to Italy the following year having only played four games for the first-team.

Taibi started well enough at United, picking up man-of-the-match for his performance in a 3-2 win against Liverpool.

But then came the infamous shocker against Southampton in a 3-3 draw. That wasn’t to be his final game though, as he played in their 5-0 mauling at Chelsea next.

But regardless of shipping five goals, the 51-year-old is always going to be known for that error against the Saints.

Goalkeeper Massimo Taibi is forever known on these shores for that error vs Southampton

2. Angel di Maria (£59.7m)

On outlay alone this was a disaster. In the space of a year, United made a £15.4m loss on a player who was heralded as the catalyst of the post-Ferguson era.

In August 2014, Angel di Maria joined the club for a then-British record £59.7m fee from Real Madrid. Aged just 26, the Argentine had played a key role the season before as Real won their 10th European Cup (La Decima).

He made a strong start to his Old Trafford career, with a goal and an assist in three of his first four games.

But after being played in six different positions, including central midfield and striker, he encountered difficulties on-and-off the pitch around the New Year period.

Di Maria and his family were victims of an attempted robbery in January 2015, causing them all to feel unsettled in England.

Two months later he was then sent off in United’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat by Arsenal. He did not start another game until the final match of the campaign at Hull, only to limp off with a hamstring injury after 23 minutes.

He then joined Paris Saint-Germain, where he remains at present.

Angel di Maria was sent off United vs Arsenal in March 2015 – his penultimate start for the club

1. Alexis Sanchez

Unquestionably No 1. After all the fanfare that came with his arrival – remember the #WelcomeAlexis piano video – his time at Old Trafford was truly a bum note.

Joining from Arsenal, much was made of the Red Devils being able to lure him away from ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City’s clutches.

However, City had the last laugh as Sanchez was a disaster at Old Trafford.

Five goals in 45 matches at £560,000-per-week was awful business from the United hierarchy. He scored a goal every 555 minutes and was injured for a grand total of 124 days during his time in the north.

He eventually left in August 2020 on a free transfer to Inter Milan but not without a £9m pay-off from United. It could’ve been worse though as he was entitled to earn a further £50m across the two years still remaining on the deal.

Horrific business all-around from Mourinho, who tried to shoehorn him terribly into his starting XI, and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

Alexis Sanchez was a disaster at the Red Devils – scoring five times in just 45 appearances




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