6 Man Utd transfer returns as Red Devils plot move for star Jose Mourinho let go

Manchester United are reportedly in the race for soon-to-be free agent Sam Johnstone, who is attracting interest from the Premier League with his contract set to expire in the summer

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - NOVEMBER 02: David de Gea, Sergio Romero and Sam Johnstone of Manchester United in action during a first team training session at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium on November 2, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)
Sam Johnstone, pictured with David de Gea and Sergio Romero, could return to Man Utd

Manchester United are plotting a move for West Bromwich Albion keeper Sam Johnstone, according to reports.

The former Red Devils youngster is out of contract with the Baggies at the end of the season and does not intend to sign a new deal with the Midlands club well out of the play-off picture.

Having impressed with Albion, both in the Premier League and Championship, there is sure to be interest in the 29-year-old, who has three senior England caps.

Along with United, Sky Sports report that top-flight rivals Tottenham and Southampton will also be in the hunt to sign him on a free transfer.

United are plotting some changes to their goalkeeping department, with second choice Dean Henderson pushing for a move away, having lost out in the battle for the starting berth with David de Gea. Johnstone failed to make a competitive appearance for United, having signed as a youngster.

He was sent on several loan spells, most notably with Preston and Aston Villa, before Jose Mourinho sanctioned his permanent exit, joining the Baggies in a deal worth £6.5million.

It is understood United chiefs have kept a close eye on his development since leaving four years ago and could become the latest player to return to Old Trafford, less than a year on from the most famous ‘second coming’ in the club’s illustrious history.

Cristiano Ronaldo

With the current malaise hanging over Manchester United, it’s difficult to conceive just how delirious the scenes were when Ronaldo’s return was officially confirmed.

Not only was there relief that he hadn’t joined City, the Portuguese icon coming back ‘home’ felt like a signal intent that United were ready to compete again.

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s Man Utd return hasn’t gone exactly to plan


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The bare statistics make for quite pleasant reading, 18 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions, including six in seven in the Champions League. But, understandably, he is a different player to the one who departed all those years ago.

Question marks over his long-term suitability remain and there have been times that his presence has felt as much of a distraction than anything else. Big decisions will need to be made this summer as to whether his second United stint is one and done.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba is set to leave Man Utd on a free…again

Of course, the policy of all successful clubs is to buy a player for £89m that was allowed to leave on a free four years previous.

Still United’s record signing, the Frenchman remains a highly divisive figure on the Old Trafford terraces.

One week he looks every bit the World Cup winner, but unfortunately those flashes have become increasingly fleeting. His constant fluttering of eyelashes at potential suitors has also done little to harbour relations with his supporters.

Having failed to lift a trophy the first time around, he was part of the Mourinho squads which won the EFL Cup and Europa League in 2017. But he came back to Old Trafford with much greater ambitions. The fact he is now set to leave on a free puts a nice bow on what has turned out to be a disastrous pair of recruitment decisions.

Paul Scholes

Paul Scholes came out of retirement for United in January 2012


Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

A return with a much happier ending, Scholes – one of the club’s best and most decorated players – stepped in with his old team in the midst of an injury crisis. Having retired in 2011, then 37, Scholes kept himself in shape training with the reserves and in January 2012 approached Sir Alex Ferguson to make a sensational return.

“I’m delighted the manager feels I can still make a contribution to the team,” he said at the time. His first game back? A Manchester derby with City where he played 31 minutes in a thrilling 3-2 victory.

Scholes would start the next game, scoring on his second debut, before finding the net again before the end of the season. He signed a year extension in the summer and was able to win another Premier League title – the 11th of his career – in 2012/13 before finally hanging the boots up.

Les Sealey

One of the surprise heroes of United’s FA Cup win in 1990, coming in for Jim Leighton for the replay in the final against Crystal Palace. It was a hugely controversial decision, replacing the established number one, but Ferguson knew it was the right option: “It wasn’t a difficult decision for Alex,” his old assistant Archie Knox said some years later.

“That is because he never had any qualms about making what others might have considered tough choices. Be in no doubt about that. A big part of that is because his judgment was invariably correct.” He was then signed permanently before leaving for Aston Villa the following year.

Sealey then came back to Old Trafford in January 1993, but played just two appearances, one of which saw him concede three times to former club Villa in the 1994 League Cup final at Wembley.

Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes was the hero as he scored a brace in the 1991 European Cup Winners’ Cup final vs Barcelona

Academy graduate ‘Sparky’ shocked United fans when he made the move to Barcelona in 1986, his first stint ended with 47 goals and an FA Cup triumph. The Welshman would only have one full season at the Camp Nou, before a year’s loan in Bayern Munich.

In 1988, like Pogba in 2016, became United’s record signing – at what now appears a paltry £1.8m. And Hughes was certainly better value for money, spending seven more years at old Trafford, winning two Premier League titles, two more FA Cups, a League Cup and the Cup Winners’ Cup – fergie’s first taste of European success – in 1991, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over Barca.

Mark Bosnich

Mark Bosnich replaced Peter Schmeichel as United’s No 1 goalkeeper


Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty)

The Australian goalkeeper joined United as a 17-year-old and made his debut in a top-flight fixture with Wimbledon in April 1990. He played two more games on his student visa, before that was cancelled and he returned to Australia.

Having established himself as one of the Premier League’s best stoppers during a seven-year spell with Villa, Ferguson lured him back to the club, signing him on a free transfer to be the replacement for outgoing Peter Schmeichel.

In his first season back he made 23 appearances and won the Premier League title, however the following summer, Fabien Barthez was signed and he was deemed surplus to requirements.

“Mark Bosnich was a terrible professional. He got off to a real bad start. He turned up for training three hours late. He was overweight,” Ferguson subsequently revealed. “We had a bad period trying to replace Peter Schmeichel. Goalkeepers are not my strongest point.”

A glowing verdict.

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