The 26 Man Utd players sold by Louis van Gaal: how they fared and where they are now

One of Louis van Gaal’s first missions as Manchester United manager was to overhaul a squad that had become disturbingly bloated.

Considering an astonishing 26 players were shifted from Old Trafford, it is perhaps more than fair to say he accomplished that mission. Unfortunately, that was one of his most productive moments on the red side of Manchester as he only lasted two full seasons, before he himself was ousted from the club in place of Jose Mourinho.

Van Gaal achieved fourth and fifth placed finishes across his two years at the Red Devils, as well as United’s first FA Cup triumph since 2004. However, Mirror Football will consider what happened to the 26 players who was jettisoned from the team across his two years at the club.

Danny Welbeck

Were it not for injuries, Danny Welbeck could have still been a vital part of Manchester United. While his £16million move to Arsenal was penned as a fresh start, his injury problems followed him to north London where he eventually moved to Watford on a free transfer.

He is now plying his trade with Brighton and Hove Albion where he has contributed some vital goals this season.

Angel Di Maria

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Di Maria and van Gaal did not see eye-to-eye during their time at Old Trafford

Van Gaal shattered United’s transfer record to sign Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid for an eye watering £59.7m. After a bright start, van Gaal and Di Maria’s relationship began to disintegrate and the Argentinean ace was sold to Paris Saint-Germain for £44m.

Di Maria remains at the Parc des Princes today where he continues to play a huge part for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

Jonny Evans

Jonny Evans is another Manchester United youth product who struggled for game time under van Gaal. The northern Irishman left the club for West Bromwich Albion in 2015, where he eventually earned a move to Leicester City three seasons later.

He remains at the heart of Brendan Rodgers’ sides’ defence, where he has struck up solid partnerships alongside the likes of Harry Maguire, Caglar Soyuncu, and Wesley Fofana.

Javier Hernandez

United fans fell in love with the Mexican goalscorer, but van Gaal decided ‘The Little Pea’ had ran his race at Old Trafford. After a brief loan stint at Real Madrid, Hernandez moved to Bayer Leverkusen in 2015.

Two years later, Hernandez sealed a move to West Ham United in what was a second Premier League spell for Chicharito. A move to Sevilla culminated for Hernandez, but after four months, he eventually moved to LA Galaxy, where he remains today.

Shinji Kagawa

Van Gaal quickly decided Kagawa was not United material

Shinji Kagawa was one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signings for Manchester United. Unfortunately, the Japanese ace’s struggled under Ferguson, David Moyes, and Van Gaal, who quickly lost patience with him and sent him back to Dortmund in 2014.

He has struggled to rediscover his spark ever since, struggling at the German giants as well as Real Zaragoza and PAOK Salonika. He now plies his trade for Belgian side Sint-Truiden.

Alexander Buttner

Buttner was tipped for great things at United when he arrived from Vitesse Arnhem in 2012. However, Van Gaal quickly disposed of him in 2014, selling him to Dinamo Moscow for around £5m

He has since played for Anderlecht, Vitesse Arnham, New England Revolution, and Eredivise side RKC Wallwijk, where he is still playing today.

Robin van Persie

Van Persie’s exit was perhaps the most shocking out of the lot

Van Gaal and van Persie appeared to be a lethal combination after their heroics in the Netherlands’ third place finish at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. But the pair’s relationship grew strained and the Dutch hitman was sold to Fenerbahce for £5m.

After three seasons at the Turkish giants and one at Feyenoord, van Persie hung up his boots in the summer of 2019 after a 23 year playing career. He now is now the assistant manager in the Feyenoord youth teams.


Nani was loaned to Sporting Lisbon in van Gaal’s first campaign at the club before he was eventually sold to Fenerbahce in in 2015. After moves to Valencia, Lazio, Sporting, and Orlando City, Nani is now playing for Serie A side Venezia.


Considering the fact Beba garnered a horrendous reputation as one of Ferguson’s worst ever signings, it’s a miracle he remained on the club’s books until 2014, when he was sold to Benfica.

The Portuguese side loaned him to Cordoba and Rayo Vallecano, before allowing him to depart the club for Eibar on a permanent deal in 2016. Vallecano came back in for the Portuguese ace in 2018, where he has since entrenched himself as one of the La Liga side’s first choice players.

Michael Keane

Michael Keane only Premier League appearance came under Van Gaal in the 2014-15 season. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for the youngster as he was soon sold to Burnley.

After impressing at the heart of the Clarets’ defence, he was sold to Everton for a huge £28m in 2017. Unfortunately, the former England international is struggling at Goodison Park, where his side are currently in the middle of a relegation storm.

Rafael da Silva

Van Gaal sold Rafael to Lyon in his second season at the club. After impressing for the French giants for five seasons, Turkish giants Istanbul Basaksehir snapped him up on a free transfer, before selling him to Brazilian side Botafogo last summer, where he remains today.

Wilfried Zaha

Zaha was not given too many chances to succeed at Manchester United

Ferguson’s last ever signing at Old Trafford did not benefit Zaha or United and Van Gaal very quickly sold Zaha back to Crystal Palace. United may be regretting that move as he has been a vital part of the Eagles ever since, firmly establishing them as a solid Premier League outfit.

Reece James

Another young player who could not make the grade under van Gaal. After being sold to Wigan, James has since played for Wigan and Doncaster Rovers, before joining Blackpool at the start of this season.

Nemanja Vidic

The captain at the time and one of the United’s greatest ever players. Vidic joined Inter Milan at the end of his deal at Old Trafford, before calling time on his career after two seasons at the Italian giants.

Angelo Henriques

Angelo Henriquez was only 18 when he was sold to Dinamo Zagreb by van Gaal. After moves to Mexican giants Atlas and Chilean side Universidad de Chile, he now plays for Brazilian side Fortaleza.

Patrice Evra

Evra departed the club after captaining the side briefly under David Moyes

Another senior player that was quickly jettisoned by van Gaal, Patrice Evra was sold to Juventus for a pittance in 2014. After three years in Turin, he played for Marseille and West Ham United, before hanging up his boots in the summer of 2019.

Tom Cleverley

After a bright start at United under Ferguson, Tom Cleverley’s reputation at the club nose-dived as he was loaned to Aston Villa in-between a free transfer to Everton in 2015. After two seasons at Goodison Park, Watford snapped the midfielder up for £8.7m in 2017, where he continues to form the base of the Hornets’ midfield today.

Anders Lindegaard

The Danish goalkeeper spent four years warming the bench for United before Van Gaal decided to sell him to West Brom in 2015. After bouncing around the divisions with the likes of Preston North End and Burnley, he signed for Swedish side Helsingberg in 2019 – at the age of 37, he is still playing for the Swedish giants.

Darren Fletcher

After two seasons at West Brom and Stoke City, Fletcher is now regularly seen alongside Ralf Rangnick as the technical director of Manchester United. The Scottish midfielder will likely have a huge say in the German’s permanent replacement at the club.

Rio Ferdinand

Ferdinand departed the club after his contract came to an end in Van Gaal’s first season


Van Gaal allowed Ferdinand’s contract to run down in the summer of 2014 and the former England captain moved to Queens Park Rangers in the summer of 2014. Unfortunately, the move turned out to be a disaster as the defender hung up his boots after QPR were relegated from the Premier League.


Anderson returned to his native Brazil in the 2015 January transfer window, playing for Internacional and Coritiba FC over three seaons. After a brief move to Turkish side Adana Demirspor, Anderson retired in 2019 and became a coach at the Turkish giants.

Tom Thorpe

In a bid to attract van Gaal’s attention, Tom Thorpe joined Birmingham City on loan in the 2014 January transfer window. Unfortunately, it did not achieve the desired result as he was moved on to Rotherham the following Summer.

After moves to Bradford City, Bolton Wanderers and Indian side ATK, Thorpe has been a free agent for the last three seasons.

Ben Amos

After six loan spells at Manchester United, Amos joined Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer in 2015. Bolton then proceeded to loan him to Cardiff City, Charlton Athletic, and Milwll, before Charlton returned for his signature and sign him in 2019.

After two seasons, he was signed by Wigan Athletic, where he has played a vital role in the Latics’ push for automatic promotion to the Championship.

Federico Macheda

Macheda was never able to fulfil his potential at Manchester United

Macheda’s time at Old Trafford culminated with a move to Cardiff City in 2014, where he stayed until 2016. After a brief return to his native Italy, via a move to Novara, Macheda is now plating for Greek giants Panathinaikos, where he has scored three goals and contributed one assist this season.

Vanja Milinkovic-Savic

Van Gaal loaned Vanja Milinkovic-Savic to Serbian side Vojvodina in 2015. While the Serbian shot-stopped did return to United in the 2016 January window, it was not for long, as he was loaned to Polish giants Lechia Gdansk.

Serie A giants Torino signed him, before loaning him to SPAL, Ascoli, and Belgian giants Standard Liege. However, Torino have retained him as their first choice goalkeeper, where he has made 25 appearances for the club.

Davide Petrucci

The former Italy U19 international could not make the grade at Old Trafford, and was soon loaned to Charlton Athletic, before being sold to Romanian giants CFR Cluj. After briefly playing for Turkish outfit Caykur Rizespor, he has since played for Italian sides Ascoli and Cosenza, before moving to Israeli side Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

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