Where does Paul Pogba rank in Manchester United’s 10 most costly signings?


Few tears were shed when Manchester United announced that Paul Pogba would be leaving the club after his contract expires at the end of this month.

Pogba, who United re-signed from Juventus for £89million in 2016, has been a divisive figure among the Old Trafford fanbase. For many, he has not come close to justifying his price tag or reputation.

Sportsmail revealed on Wednesday that the 29-year-old Frenchman, who looks destined to return to Juventus on a free transfer, will walk away with a £3.78million loyalty bonus when he leaves, bringing the total cost to United to a whopping £219million.

But he is not the only expensive flop to have spectacularly failed to deliver. Here, Sportsmail ranks the 10 worst – and most costly – signings United have made in the Premier League era.

Paul Pogba’s widely expected departure from Manchester United was confirmed Wednesday

United released a gushing statement on Pogba, despite his poor second spell at the club

United released a gushing statement on Pogba, despite his poor second spell at the club

10. Memphis Depay (£31million from PSV Eindhoven, 2015)

Considerable excitement greeted the Dutch winger’s arrival at OId Trafford in the summer of 2015. 

Depay came with a reputation of being lively, tricky and direct but he could not bring that to the Premier League. 

He made 53 appearances for United, scoring seven goals – including two in a promising showing in a Champions League play-off with Club Brugge – and made six assists before he was sold to Lyon midway through Jose Mourinho’s first season.

A case of right player at the wrong time, perhaps?

Memphis Depay promised much but delivered little in his short career at Old Trafford

Memphis Depay promised much but delivered little in his short career at Old Trafford

9. Angelo Herinquez (£4.95m from Universidad de Chile, 2012)

Even the staunchest of United fans will be forgiven for failing to remember this Chilean striker ever playing for the club. Well, that’s because he didn’t.

Henriquez would feature on a list of Sir Alex Ferguson’s most peculiar transfers – more of those later – as he joined as a relative unknown for nearly £5m.

He was never given a senior appearance by Ferguson, who said at the time that the youngster had made a ‘tremendous impact on the game in his short career so far’, and was farmed out to Wigan, Real Zaragoza and Dinamo Zagreb before eventually signing for the Croatian side in 2015.

Henriquez cost more than Teddy Sheringham, who won the Treble for United. A bizarre move all around.

Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez never made a senior appearance in three years at United

Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez never made a senior appearance in three years at United

8. Anthony Martial (initial £36m from Monaco, 2015)

While there was no doubting the promise of the Frenchman, eyebrows were raised nonetheless at United stumping up a world-record fee for a teenager to sign the French winger. 

Martial had hardly set the world alight in Ligue 1, scoring eight goals in 31 league games prior to his transfer to United.

After netting a superb individual effort against United’s arch-rivals Liverpool on his home debut, and the winner in an FA Cup semi-final, in his first season, the difficulties began to set in for the talented forward.

Save for the second half of the 2019-20 season, he has struggled for consistency and was shipped out to Sevilla on loan in January of this year. His future at the club under new manager Erik ten Hag looks bleak.

Anthony Martial made a fairytale start to his United career with a goal on debut vs Liverpool

Anthony Martial made a fairytale start to his United career with a goal on debut vs Liverpool

The Frenchman was frozen out last term and endured a disappointing loan spell with Sevilla

The Frenchman was frozen out last term and endured a disappointing loan spell with Sevilla

7. Juan Sebastian Veron (£28.1m from Lazio, 2001)

The midfielder’s signing was considered a coup for United, who thought they were getting one of the best players in the world in his position.

Sadly, it did not work out that way for the silky, suave Argentinian. After a bright start to his career at Old Trafford, he endured somewhat of a torrid time in Manchester as he struggled to cope with the relentlessness of the schedule in England. 

Veron’s second season was not much better as United cut their losses and sold him to Chelsea for £15million at the end of the campaign.

One of the more memorable moments during Veron’s ill-fated spell at Old Trafford was when criticism of his performances sparked a trademark expletive-laden rant from Ferguson. ‘He [Veron] is a f****** great player’ he told journalists. ‘And you’re all f****** idiots.’

Juan Sebastian Veron failed to cut it at Manchester United despite his reputation in the game

Juan Sebastian Veron failed to cut it at Manchester United despite his reputation in the game

Ferguson once described Veron as a 'f****** great player' in response to media criticism

Ferguson once described Veron as a ‘f****** great player’ in response to media criticism

6. Bastian Schweinsteiger (£14.4million from Bayern Munich, 2015)

£5,963-a-minute. That is the reported cost of the German’s United career, which never really kicked into life.

Like Veron, the signing of Schweinsteiger was seen as a shrewd piece of business from United. He arrived as a legendary figure, whose reputation could only be enhanced by playing in the Premier League, right? Wrong.

He featured in just 35 matches for the club in nearly two years but pocketed around £12m in wages, a staggering figure for a player who at one point was ruthlessly demoted to training with the Under 23s by Mourinho.

Schweinsteiger later revealed that he was first refused access into the first-team dressing room on what was his 32nd birthday. Ouch.

Bastian Schweinsteiger was a huge disappointment at Old Trafford after joining from Bayern

Bastian Schweinsteiger was a huge disappointment at Old Trafford after joining from Bayern

5. Bebe (£7.4m from Vitoria Guimaraes, 2010)

Bebe’s £7m move to Old Trafford is possibly the most bizarre signing in United’s history – so strange that it was even investigated by the Portuguese police.

There is not a great deal to say about Bebe other than he will go down in the annals of transfer history at United – and not for the right reasons.

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

Bebe, who United incredibly hoped would turn out to be another Cristiano Ronaldo, made seven appearances in his first season and none in the following three years as he spent the majority of that out on loan. 

Bebe's move to United is perhaps the most bizarre signing the club has ever made

Bebe’s move to United is perhaps the most bizarre signing the club has ever made

4. Radamel Falcao (£6m loan fee from Monaco, 2014)

Another ‘if only’ for United fans. The Colombian striker’s arrival was widely heralded, given his prolific goalscoring record and the club’s need for a proper No 9, but there was a reason the club chose not to make his loan move permanent.

Falcao – who earned cult hero status with United’s fanbase not long after joining – got on the scoresheet on just four occasions in 29 appearances for the Red Devils, a return that few would have bet on when he first signed.

Not only did United fork out £6m to snatch him on loan, more than they paid for now legendary full-back Patrice Evra, but Falcao’s wages were astronomical, no matter what estimate you choose to believe.

Reports suggest Falcao was on between £180,000 and £265,000-a-week at Old Trafford. Analysis on his salary carried out in the aftermath of his exit revealed United essentially paid him £4m for every goal he scored. 

Radamel Falcao was among the world's most prolific goalscorers when he arrived at United

Radamel Falcao was among the world’s most prolific goalscorers when he arrived at United

The Colombian failed to make an impact at Old Trafford and scored just four goals

The Colombian failed to make an impact at Old Trafford and scored just four goals

3. Paul Pogba (£89m from Juventus, 2016)

A fully-deserved place in the top three for the departing Frenchman, who came close to the silver medal on this list.

Where to start with Pogba? When he came back from Juventus to join the team he had left for free in 2012, it was a marquee signing for United and a statement from a club which was not in the Champions League.

Yet, as he prepares to wave goodbye to United, who he had joined as a teenager, you could count the number of Pogba’s truly great performances on one hand. And with fingers to spare.

In truth, he did not deserve the gushing 800-odd word statement he got from United on Tuesday. To say his second spell at Old Trafford will not be remembered fondly is an understatement – and that is before you take into account the hefty finances of the deal.

Few tears would have been shed among United fans when Pogba's departure was confirmed

Few tears would have been shed among United fans when Pogba’s departure was confirmed

Pogba's last appearance in a United shirt was a fitting metaphor for his time with the club

Pogba’s last appearance in a United shirt was a fitting metaphor for his time with the club

2. Angel di Maria (£59.7m from Real Madrid, 2014)

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, Di Maria joined the club for a then-British record fee from Real Madrid having just played a key role in the Spanish giants winning ‘La Decima’ – their 10th European Cup.

The Argentinian that featured in six different positions at United was a shadow of the player the club thought they were getting.

A burglary at his family home in January 2015 clearly will not have helped matters but it speaks to how much he struggled that he was booed when he returned to Old Trafford with PSG in 2019. Di Maria responded by drinking a beer that had been thrown from the crowd but his former club, of course, had the last laugh with their epic comeback win in Paris. 

Angel di Maria proved a hugely expensive flop after signing from Real Madrid for £60million

Angel di Maria proved a hugely expensive flop after signing from Real Madrid for £60million

1. Alexis Sanchez (swap deal with Arsenal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 2018)

A man who was better on the piano than in a United shirt, Sanchez is the poster-boy for the club’s terrible recruitment in the nearly 10 years since Ferguson retired.

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.

Calling the move a disaster does not come close to the truth. A disaster of epic proportions that led to both parties being glad to see the back of one another.

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

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

Sanchez's arrival at United was announced with a video of the Chilean playing the piano

Sanchez’s arrival at United was announced with a video of the Chilean playing the piano

UNITED’S 10 WORST SIGNINGS 

10. Memphis Depay (£31million from PSV Eindhoven, 2015)

9. Angelo Herinquez (£4.95m from Universidad de Chile, 2012)

8. Anthony Martial (initial £36m from AS Monaco, 2015)

7. Juan Sebastian Veron (£28.1m from Lazio, 2001)

6. Bastian Schweinsteiger (£14.4m from Bayern Munich, 2015)

5. Bebe (£7.4m from Vitoria Guimaraes, 2010)

4. Radamel Falcao (£6m loan fee from AS Monaco, 2014)

3. Paul Pogba (£89m from Juventus, 2016)

2. Angel di Maria (£59.7m from Real Madrid, 2014)

1. Alexis Sanchez (swap deal with Arsenal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 2018)



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