Success or Flop? Sir Alex Ferguson's top 10 most expensive Man United signings
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson salutes the fans after their English Premier League soccer match against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich, central England, May 19, 2013. This was Ferguson’s 1,500th and final match as Manchester United manager [REUTERS/Eddie Keogh]

Sir Alex Ferguson enjoyed years of success at Manchester United.

In his near 30-year spell at Old Trafford the Scot won 13 top-flight titles, two Champions League trophies, five FA Cups and four League Cups.

He’s widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest ever managers as a result, but Ferguson did have to splash some cash at times to achieve all that he did at United.

Here we take a look at the ten most expensive players signed by Ferguson and determine whether they were a success of failure.

From Ruud van Nistlerooy to Robin van Persie, there are some big names in this list.

10. Antonio Valencia

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Success or Flop? Sir Alex Ferguson's top 10 most expensive Man United signings
Ecuador’s player Antonio Valencia jogs during a training session in Quito on August 31, 2016 ahead of their Russia 2018 World Cup football qualifier matches against Brazil and Peru [AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO BUENDIA]

Cost: £16million

The Ecuadorian caught Ferguson’s eye while at Wigan, and he completed a big-money move to United in 2009.

He was never a glamour signing like some of the names on this list, but during his decade at Old Trafford proved himself to be one of the club’s most consistent performers starting out as a right-winger before moving back into defence.

Success.

9. Owen Hargreaves

Cost: £17million

Manchester United signed the midfielder in the same year they landed Valencia, spending near enough the same amount on the two players.

Ferguson had very high hopes for Hargreaves but injuries blighted his time at Old Trafford, with the Canadian being released in 2011.

Flop.

8. Michael Carrick

Success or Flop? Sir Alex Ferguson's top 10 most expensive Man United signings
Manchester United v Arsenal – Barclays Premier League – Old Trafford – 28/2/16 Manchester United’s Michael Carrick and Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck [Reuters / Phil Noble]

Cost: £18.6million

Signed in 2006, Carrick was brought in do a ‘job’ in the middle of the park for United.

He did exactly that, and operated under the radar early on in his career at Old Trafford due to the superstars he shared a pitch with.

In later years, following Ferguson’s reign and Manchester United experiencing a fall from grace, Carrick’s worth became increasingly apparent.

Success.

7. David De Gea

Success or Flop? Sir Alex Ferguson's top 10 most expensive Man United signings
n this file photo taken on April 24, 2019 Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England [COURTESY]

Cost: £18.9million

The Spaniard barley fit in his Manchester United shirt when he first signed from Atletico Madrid, as pointed out by Jamie Carragher back in 2011.

De Gea was brought in to replace Edwin van der Sar and initially looked as if he was going to be a flop, but he turned this round in the years that followed, becoming the world’s best goalkeeper at his peak.

Success.

6. Ruud van Nistelrooy

Cost: £19million

United signed the Dutchman from PSV back in 2001, and it’s safe the say the forward made an immediate impression at Old Trafford.

In five seasons, Van Nistelrooy netted a staggering 150 times for the Red Devils, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup.

Success.

5. Robin van Persie

Cost: £24million

The Dutchman didn’t have a long career at United, but he was a huge purchase in the summer ahead of the 2013 season.

The campaign would be Ferguson’s last, and the signing of Van Persie from Arsenal not only upset United’s title rivals, but also ensured they beat them to the trophy.

Success.

4. Wayne Rooney

Cost: £27million

He was the teenager everyone wanted to snap up when he burst onto the scene at Everton, but it was Ferguson who won the race for his signature.

Thirteen years later and Rooney returned to his childhood club as the record goal scorer for both England and United.

Success.

3. Juan Sebastian Veron

Cost: £28million

Ferguson paid just under £30million to sign Veron in 2001, making him England’s most expensive player at the time. But things didn’t work out for the Argentine at Old Trafford.

He wasn’t afforded the same time and space to perform like he had in Italy, and it wasn’t long before critics piled in.

Ferguson wasn’t happy about the question marks hanging over Veron, telling the media: “On you go. I’m not f****** talking to you. He’s a f****** great player. You are f****** idiots.”

Flop.

2. Rio Ferdinand

Cost: £30million

Ferdinand was signed in 2002, becoming the planet’s most expensive defender and the most expensive British footballer in history at the time.

But it was money well spent.

In the following years, the centre-back redefined his position, sparking a move away from flat-footed defenders who were only good in the air and towards ball-players.

Ferdinand also formed one of football’s greatest defensive partnerships alongside Nemanja Vidic, with whom he won the Champions League with in 2008.

Success.

1. Dimitar Berbatov

Cost: £31million

And finally, Ferguson’s most expensive acquisition was Berbatov.

The Bulgarian was signed from Tottenham in 2008 and spent four seasons at United before signing for Fulham.

Known for his relaxed approach to the game, Berbatov did have his critics, but the forward’s technical ability made him one of the world’s best on his day.

Success.

 

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