This post contains affiliate links. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”
The January transfer window is upon us once again, and that means that clubs are now looking to do business to strengthen their team.
Despite clubs often saying that it’s difficult to do business in the middle of the season, some of the Premier League’s best players have joined their clubs in the winter window. Manchester United have done business in the past, signing a total of 13 first-team players during the January windows.
But which of those was the best? 90min I have classified them.
One of the most recent arrivals in January at Old Trafford was Chilean superstar Alexis Sánchez.
After a prolonged move from his rivals Arsenal, Sánchez struck a trade deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan with a mind-blowing salary package of £ 450k a week. Despite being part of a strong team and being the focal point, Sánchez scored just five goals in 45 games for Manchester United before going on a free transfer to Inter.
The legendary Barcelona goalkeeper signed as a free agent during Louis van Gaal’s tenure at the club. He was only signed as a substitute for David De Gea and made just two appearances for the club, before being placed on the transfer list after refusing to play in a reserve game.
He was loaned out the following January before being released at the end of his contract. I would be forgiven for forgetting that this deal ever happened.
Tosic joined United as a 22-year-old prospect from FK Partizan, but never really made it into the first team.
He made just five appearances for Sir Alex Ferguson, but was a regular on the reserve team before joining FC Koln. He later built an excellent career for CSKA Moscow and made 76 appearances for the Serbian national team as well.
Lindegaard, another goalkeeper who joined the club to play again, also had a brief stint as a starting goalkeeper.
After David De Gea’s poor start in English football, Sir Alex took him out of the spotlight and used Lindegaard, only for De Gea to soon regain his place. In five years at Old Trafford, the Dane made 29 appearances in all competitions before leaving for West Brom.
Originally signed on a six-month loan, Ighalo began racing for Manchester United scoring five goals in his first five starts for the club. It was due to return to its parent club in China at the end of the season, but when football was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club extended its loan until January 2021.
Since the new season began, Ighalo has made just four appearances in all competitions and appears poised for a silent exit at the end of his spell.
You could call him a cult hero, but Forlan’s time at Old Trafford was tough.
After joining in January 2002, the Uruguayan won 26 matches before scoring his first goal for the club and struggled to make a real impact at the club. He scored some memorable goals during his time, including the famous double against Liverpool at Anfield, but is ultimately most remembered for his time in La Liga.
Many people won’t even remember that Henrik Larsson was once a Manchester United player, but he was. For three months starting in January 2007, Larsson wore the famous red jersey, as his parent club, Helsingborg, were enjoying the off-season, and he was excellent.
In 13 matches, he scored three goals and manager Sir Alex Ferguson insisted that he “would have done anything to make him stay.”
He left the club before the season was over and despite playing just seven league games, he still has more Premier League medals than Steven Gerrard.
After fighting José Mourinho in Chelsea, Juan Mata jumped into a helicopter and signed for David Moyes’ Manchester United in January 2014 for £ 37 million.
Since joining Mata he has had spells of good and bad form, often deployed on the right side of the attack. His best spell at the club was with Louis van Gaal, when he scored a double that included this iconic scissor kick to turn Anfield into ‘Juanfield’.
He has won the Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup at Old Trafford.
We’re cheating here, but it can’t get by without a mention.
Paul Scholes retired in the summer of 2011 after a defeat in the Champions League final against Barcelona and began working as a coach with youth teams. But after wanting to play again, Scholesy asked Sir Alex if he could get back on the playing team.
A secret deal was made and Scholes’s name appeared on the team sheet for an FA Cup tie against Manchester City without any prior official announcement. He ended up becoming the third most capped player in club history and won another Premier League title before retiring again in 2013.
After shining in Fulham’s 3-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson made the decision to sign Louis Saha in January 2004 for £ 12.4 million.
He struggled with injuries during his time at the club but remained a large part of the team that lifted the Premier League title in 2006/07 after displacing Ruud van Nistelrooy as the starting striker. He scored 42 goals for the club and is a much appreciated player by the fans, but there is still a bit of ‘what if?’ around his career.
The most recent transfer on the list, we all know the impact of Bruno Fernandes on Manchester United.
After finally signing for the club after a long Saga, Fernandes has made his £ 67 million fee look like a bargain with his performances. The magnificent Portuguese seems to score or receive an assist every time he plays and is central to the way Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sets up the team.
He could eventually move up this list depending on what he achieves during his time at Old Trafford, but for now he’s comfortably in the top three.
Possibly Manchester United’s best left-back, Patrice Evra is a club legend.
He joined French Monaco in 2006 and spent eight years at the club, but it’s easy to forget that he didn’t get started at Old Trafford. He was substituted at halftime of his Manchester derby debut as he struggled with the physicality of the game.
However, he evolved and improved, winning five Premier League titles, three League Cups and the Champions League before going on a free transfer after falling through the club hierarchy.
It was difficult to separate the top two, but former club captain Nemanja Vidic gets the nod.
The Serbian joined in the same window as Evra in 2006 and formed one of the greatest defensive partnerships of all time with Rio Ferdinand.
Vidic won five Premier League titles, three League Cups and the UEFA Champions League during his time at the club before fighting David Moyes and moving to Inter. He was named club captain after Gary Neville’s retirement and was named Premier League Player of the Year in 2009 and 2011.
The biggest January signing in Manchester United history.