Dan James only became the fifth player United have made a return on in the last decade – Daily Mirror Sport takes a look at the other players to see how they got on
Dan James’ move to Leeds United for £25million made the Welshman only the fifth Manchester United player in 10 years to record a positive financial return.
For one reason or another, the Red Devils have a mixed record when it comes to selling their stars for a profit.
It is an astonishing statistic considering many of their closest rivals can only enter the transfer window if they have raised significant funds from player sales.
While Liverpool have generated their transfer funds through the sales of players such as Philippe Coutinho, and Luis Suarez over recent season, United have only made a positive return on five players in the last ten years.
Including James, Mirror Sport takes a look at the five players who United have sold for a profit, and how they have fared since….
Daniel James (£10m profit)
James arrived at Old Trafford in a £15million move two years ago – but things didn’t work out as planned.
With Ronaldo returning to Old Trafford, James left the Reds to link up with Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
You could say it was a transfer in the making, with the Welshman passing a medical with the Whites in 2019 before seeing a move from Swansea City collapse at the last minute.
James’ lightning pace and direct playing style could make him the perfect addition to the Yorkshire giants.
With a price tag of £25m, he is Leeds’ second most expensive signing in their history, and Whites’ fans are anxious to see how he performs.
Alexander Buttner (£1.8m profit)
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Buttner arrived at England as one of the most promising young defenders in Europe.
However, he only made 28 appearances in all competitions between 2014 and 2016, and he was soon on his way out of the club.
Miraculously, United did record a £1.8m profit on the defender when they sold him to Dinamo Moscow.
Since then, he has lived a career befitting of the term journeyman, with Dinamo loaning him to Anderlecht, before returning to Vitesse Arnhem the following season.
However, his move back to Vitesse did not have the desired effect as he soon became a free agent again.
A move to New England Revolution followed before another return to Holland where he now plays for RKC Wallwijk.
Daley Blind (£2m profit)
When Louis Van Gaal took charge at Manchester United, one of his first moves was to sign fellow countryman Daley Blind.
After impressing at the 2014 World Cup under the former Bayern Munich manager, Blind was signed from Ajax for £16m in the 2014-15 season.
But after four campaigns where he won the FA Cup, the Europa League, and the League Cup, he was allowed to return to Ajax by Jose Mourinho.
United were able to record a small profit on the Dutchman, selling him back to Ajax for around £18m.
Blind is still playing for the 35-time Dutch champions, and he also continues to represent the Netherlands.
He made four appearances for Holland in the recent Euro 2020 European Championships.
Javier Hernandez (£800k profit)
Perhaps United’s shrewdest and most effective transfers of the last decade.
After an impressive World Cup for Mexico in 2010, United signed Hernandez from Guadalajara for a cheap and cheerful £6.5m.
He went on to fire United to two Premier League titles, contributing with an impressive 59 goals and 20 assists in 157 United appearances.
United not only benefited on the pitch, but they also managed to profit on the Mexican striker off the pitch, selling to Bayer Leverkusen for £7.3m
He returned to England after two years at the German side, joining West Ham United, before moving on to La Liga side Sevilla.
After only three months, he moved across the pond to LA Galaxy where he had scored 10 goals in 10 appearances before a calf injury in June halted him in his tracks.
Chris Smalling (£6.5m profit
Smalling divided opinion during his time at Old Trafford, but his acquisition and his resultant sale was a very smart piece of business from Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson convinced United to spend £7m on the central defender when he was a raw, promising talent at Fulham.
While he was not without his critics, the 31-capped England defender went on to win two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, The League Cup, and the Europa League for the Red Devils.
However, current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided to make a change to his defensive line, and he was soon sold to AS Roma for £13.5m in 2020.
Now reunited with former United manager Jose Mourinho, Smalling has made 46 appearances for the Italian side, and has established himself as one of Serie A’s most reliable defenders.