Manchester United have the biggest transfer losses in Europe in the last 10 years, and just one Premier League title – won by Sir Alex Ferguson – to show for it
The revelation that Manchester United have amassed the biggest transfer losses in Europe over the last decade will come as little surprise to their fans, who have had to endure mediocrity in the post- Sir Alex Ferguson era.
United’s failings in the transfer market have come at a hefty price – almost £1billion, which exposes their lack of a coherent and successful recruitment policy.
Led by former executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who stood down on February 1, United amassed losses of around £900million, spending £1.3billion on signings but recouping just £400m from players sales.
After the highest net spend in world football over the past decade, United are no closer to winning a first Premier League title since 2013, when Ferguson ended his glittering reign.
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In the eight seasons since Ferguson retired, United have finished, on average, 21.75 points behind the champions, conclusive proof of the drift and decline that had beset arguably the world’s biggest club.
The extent to which standards and expectations have been allowed to fall at United was made evident with a frank admission from interim boss Ralf Rangnick.
Ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Burnley, Rangnick said: “Right now, we are fourth in the league and everybody on the inside of the club, including myself, would be happy if we finish fourth at the end of the season.”
The figures that expose United’s folly in the transfer market over the past decade were published by Switzerland-based independent research group CIES Football Observatory.
If any player epitomised United’s failing in the transfer market in that time, it is the acquisition of Paul Pogba from Juventus in 2016 for a club-record fee of £89.5m.
Pogba has failed to justify that fee on the pitch, but more significantly, United are set to make no return on the France midfielder, who has been allowed to run down his contract and can leave for nothing this summer.
Ander Herrera was another United player allowed to leave as a free agent. Signed from Athletic Bilbao for £30m in 2014, Herrera ran down his contract and joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2019, with United getting nothing in return.
Jesse Lingard, whose market value is around £25m, will also leave for free this summer; another player allowed to run down his contract, ensuring United will make nothing on him when he departs.
Other costly signings include Anthony Martial, signed for £36m in 2015, and Donny van de Beek, who cost £40m in 2020, both failing to make the expected impact at United and now on loan at Sevilla and Everton respectively.
Although Manchester City spent more than United on players, £1.43bn, that figure was offset by recouping £600m in sales, with astute business like Ferran Torres to Barcelona for £60m – three times what they paid for him.
While United have claimed a solitary league title in the past decade, City have won five, PSG seven and Barcelona five. United’s last trophy came in 2017, the Europa League triumph under Jose Mourinho, with the club facing the prospect of their longest wait for silverware for nearly 50 years.
And with United currently 19 points behind leaders City and with the Champions League their only remaining chance of winning anything this season, that wait is set to continue, and will surely carry on until they can improve their calamitous recruitment and sales strategy in the transfer market.