Much has been made of Manchester United’s downfall since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, but despite Ole Gunnar Solskjaer constantly having to deal with rumours surrounding his future, the Red Devils are again on the hunt for a top four finish.
Though a title tilt may seem out of the question this season, their recent transfer business has put them in good stead to match anyone they come up against on their day.
Having been knocked out at the semi-final stage of the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League last season, Solskjaer must be all too aware of how much silverware could boost morale this time around.
In a bid to strengthen their resolve and go that one step further this season, United have both recruited a number of experienced European stars while shifting players with their best days at Old Trafford behind them.
Here are Manchester United ’s dealings from the last two windows.
Man Utd signings
Amad Diallo (Atalanta, £18.5 million)
Having only just turned 18 in July, Utd know Amad Diallo is not the kind of signing intended to make an instant impact.
Yet to actually join up with his new teammates, Diallo will remain at Atalanta until January 2021, while the two sides put the finishing touches on the final deal that could eventually reach £37m.
Diallo has already notched his first goal in senior football, scoring on his professional debut against Udinese in October.
Utd have a rich history with mercurial wide-men, Diallo will hope he is the next in line.
Facundo Pellistri (Peñarol, £7.65 million)
The second of Manchester United’s 18-year-old acquisitions, Pellistri is also a natural winger, already starring out wide for Man Utd’s Under-23 side.
Born in Uruguay, Pellistri only made 30 appearances in the Uruguayan Primera Divisón for Penarol, before swapping Montevideo for Manchester over the summer.
He is potentially in line to make his first team debut before Diallo, as he has the luxury of having been integrated into United’s set-up.
Alex Telles (Porto, £15 million)
After Luke Shaw’s continued struggles at recreating the kind of form that led Utd to sign him back in 2014, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to strengthen the left-back position with Brazilian international Alex Telles.
The relatively low-fee paid for Telles does not mean the pressure isn’t firmly on, joining a side that’s been crying out for defensive stability.
The start of his Man Utd career was also disrupted by a positive Covid-19 test in October, but he has since become a more familiar face.
Boasting a thunderous left foot, Telles even managed to score 26 goals during his four-year stay at Portuguese giants Porto.
Edinson Cavani (PSG, Free transfer)
A name that has struck fear into the hearts of defenders around the world for years, Edinson Cavani will be looking to conquer the Premier League after hugely successful spells in both Serie A and Ligue 1.
Cavani joined off the back of seven years at French champions PSG, in which the Uruguayan notched 200 goals in 301 games, an astonishing strike ratio even among the very best on the continent.
Though there may be concerns over the striker’s age at 33, his quick start to life at Old Trafford – which has included a number of crucial goals – has gone some way to silencing the doubters.
Donny van de Beek (Ajax, £39 million)
One of many supremely talented midfielders to come off the Ajax production line, Van de Beek introduced himself to English football fans long before he actually arrived, with a well-taken goal for the Dutch giants against Tottenham Hotspur in the 2019 Champions League semi-finals.
One of the more expensive signings United have made in recent seasons, the midfielder will be aiming to justify his hefty price during his first season in the Premier League. A goal on his debut won’t have done him any harm as he fights for more minutes on the pitch.
Bruno Fernandes (Sporting CP, £55 million):
Undeniably one of Utd’s mostly influential and talented acquisitions of the post-Fergie era, Fernandes has been nothing short of a sensation since his arrival in January.
Though his reputation as a spot-kick specialist is warranted, Fernandes offers so much more. Vital goals and assists both domestically and in Europe means the Portuguese international has already established himself as a fan-favourite less than a year into his time in Manchester.
He even won the club’s Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award for 2019/20 after just half a season at Old Trafford, and has kept up his red-hot form in the 2020/21 campaign.
Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua, Loan)
One of Man Utd’s more bizarre signing in recent years.
The 30-year-old former Watford striker was a January 2020 deadline day loan arrival from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua to help ease an injury crisis in the attacking department.
Despite serious question marks over his arrival and whether he would bolster Utd’s options going forward, Ighalo impressed, notching five goals upon his return to English football.
While he extended his stay beyond the end of last season, it is not yet clear whether Man Utd will seek to keep him for longer, with the arrival of Edinson Cavani further limiting his minutes on the pitch.
Who do you think has been Manchester United’s best transfer in recent years? Let us know in the comments below.
Man Utd departures
Andreas Pereira (Loan, Lazio)
Pereira has been on Manchester United’s radar since he was 15 years old. Working his way through the ranks, the Brazilian international made his first team debut in August 2014 at just 18.
45 first team appearances and just two goals have meant Pereira has spent large chunks of his time on loan, and he now finds himself with Italian outfit Lazio for the remainder of the 2020/21 season.
Diogo Dalot (Loan, Milan)
Signed for £19m when he was just 19-year-old by Jose Mourinho, but with 20 appearances in two years, Dalot’s United career has not gone as well as first hoped after falling out of favour under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Portuguese full-back is aiming to revitalise his career on loan at Milan, and recently talked about how he is enjoying his time in Serie A.
Tahith Chong (Loan, Werder Bremen)
A highly-rated youth prospect, Chong’s loan is aimed to gain him further minutes in senior football before he is integrated back into the United side.
With five senior appearances to his name at United, his season in the Bundesliga could serve him in good stead ahead of his return next campaign.
Alexis Sánchez (Free transfer,Inter Milan)
The Chilean will forever be remembered among the Old Trafford faithful as one of their club’s most expensive mistakes, despite costing nothing in terms of transfer fee.
Joining from rivals Arsenal as part of a swap deal which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan go the other way, Sánchez’s rumoured wages were reportedly an eye-watering £500,000 a week, though his stats during his stay prove that figure was hardly warranted.
Scoring just three goals in 32 appearances, Sanchez eventually joined Inter Milan on a permanent deal this summer, having spent last season on loan with the Italian giants. There he has been reunited with former Utd frontman Romelu Lukaku, winger Ashley Young and defender Matteo Darmian.
Chris Smalling (£13.5 million,Roma)
Making over 200 appearances in a decade, Smalling eventually called time on his Old Trafford career, joining Roma on a permanent deal after enjoying a successful 2019/20 campaign on loan at the Serie A outfit.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Free transfer,Oldham Athletic)
Despite being on the United books since 2003, Borthwick-Jackson opted to make his move to Oldham Athletic permanent this year, after spending half of the 2019/20 season on loan at Tranmere Rovers and the second part at Boundary Park.
Sent out on loan on five separate occasions, the defender struggled to make the grade at United and featured just 10 times in five years.
Ashley Young (£1.5million, Inter Milan)
After nine years, 192 appearances and 15 Premier League goals, Young eventually departed Manchester in January 2020 to join up with the seemingly ever-growing list of former United stars at Inter Milan, including Alexis Sánchez, Romelu Lukaku and Matteo Darmian.
After signing a six-month deal with the 18-time Serie A winners, he was offered a one-year contract extension after less than two months in Milan.
Antonio Conte’s side ran Juventus close last season, finishing one-point behind the Old Lady, and are in the title hunt again this year.