The 26 players sold by Louis van Gaal at Man Utd – and how they fared after leaving club

It has been seven years since Louis van Gaal began his memorable reign as Manchester United manager with a 2-1 defeat at home to Swansea.

Despite that rocky start, Van Gaal managed to turn things around and secure a top-four Premier League finish in his debut season at Old Trafford, before guiding United to FA Cup glory in his second and final campaign as boss.

He recruited a number of high-profile names in his time as Red Devils boss, including Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Angel di Maria, Radamel Falcao and Ander Herrera.

Nevertheless, the crazy Dutchman also offloaded a total of 26 players in just two years at the helm, clearing out stars he considered deadwood in Manchester.

So how did each of them fare after being given the boot by Van Gaal? Daily Star Sport have taken a look at Van Gaal’s 26 sales as United manager.

Louis van Gaal as Manchester United manager
Louis van Gaal offloaded 26 players during his memorable two-year stint as Manchester United manager

Danny Welbeck – The United academy graduate was sold to Arsenal for £16million in Van Gaal’s first transfer window at United, making way for new signing Falcao. Welbeck’s five-year spell at the Emirates was marred by injuries, and after a short stint with Watford he now plays for Brighton.

Shinji Kagawa – There was plenty of expectation when United forked out £17million to sign Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund in 2012, but two years later he was sold back to the German club after struggling at Old Trafford. The Japan midfielder has since plied his trade with Besiktas, Real Zaragosa and PAOK.

Alexander Buttner – Buttner was another 2012 signing given the boot by Van Gaal in his first summer window at Old Trafford, moving to Dynamo Moscow after being left frustrated with his lack of game time and differences with the new boss. The left-back spent three years in Russia and most recently played for Vitesse Arnhem.

Wilfried Zaha – The young winger arrived at United in 2013 full of excitement about the journey ahead, but two years, as many loan spells and four appearances later Van Gaal decided he was not part of his plans and sold him back to Crystal Palace. Zaha remains a Palace player today, becoming a key member of their side again in the six years which have followed.

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Wilfried Zaha during his time at Man Utd
Wilfried Zaha’s unsuccessful spell at Old Trafford came to an end in 2015

Bebe – After four unsuccessful years in Manchester Bebe was finally offloaded to Benfica in 2014, bringing an end to one of the strangest transfers United have ever completed. The Portuguese midfielder is three years into his latest stint at Rayo Vallecano after also spending time with Spanish rivals Eibar.

Patrice Evra – The iconic United left-back ended his eight-year career at Old Trafford when Van Gaal arrived, sealing a £1.71million switch to Juventus that summer. After three years in Italy he enjoyed brief spells with Marseille and West Ham before retiring. Now a regular pundit on Sky Sports.

Angel Di Maria – Van Gaal signed and sold Di Maria in his two-year reign as United boss. He first joined the Red Devils in a British record £59.7million transfer before being offloaded to Paris St-Germain for £44.3million a year later after failing to impress in Manchester. The Argentine winger remains a PSG player today.

Javier Hernandez – ‘Chicarito’ was loaned out to Real Madrid in Van Gaal’s first season after being told he had a ‘one per cent chance of playing’, before completing a move to Bayer Leverkusen upon return in the summer of 2015. The Mexican striker now plays in America with LA Galaxy after stints with West Ham and Sevilla.

Javier Hernandez celebrates for Bayer Leverkusen
Javier Hernandez left to join Bayer Leverkusen in 2015

Jonny Evans – The centre-back saw his game time reduced under Van Gaal in 2014/15, meaning he decided to leave Old Trafford and join West Brom at the end of that season. Evans got back to his best in three years at the Hawthorns and then earned a move to Leicester, where he remains a key member of Brendan Rodgers’ squad.

Robin van Persie – Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure took its toll on Van Persie, who struggled under David Moyes and Van Gaal before deciding to move on in the summer of 2015. The Dutch striker left to join Fenerbahce, spending three years with the Turkish side and then bringing down the curtain on his career with boyhood club Feyenoord.

Nani – Van Gaal’s arrival marked the end of the Portugal winger’s successful seven-year stint at United, initially rejoining Sporting Lisbon on loan before securing a permanent switch to Fenerbahce in 2015. Nani, who later accused the Dutchman of treating players ‘like kids’, is now at Orlando City after spells with Valencia and another at Sporting.

Rafael – In seven years at United the Brazilian failed to hold down a regular starting spot, making just 11 appearances in 2014/15 before joining Lyon. Rafael spent five years with the French club, making 139 appearances, and most recently played for Istanbul Basaksehir.

Manchester United's Rafael da Silva celebrates at the end of the match
Rafael also departed that year

Angelo Henriquez – Henriquez wasn’t afforded an appearance in three years with the Red Devils after joining from Universidad de Chile in 2012. On the back of a successful loan spell with Dinamo Zagreb he was sold to the Croatian club in 2015 and is now back at Universidad de Chile following a year at Atlas.

Michael Keane – After featuring once for the club Keane was sent out on loan to Burnley in the summer of 2014 and made the move permanent the following January. The defender enjoyed two successful years at Turf Moor and then landed a £25million move to Everton, where he remains today.

Reece James – Not to be mistaken with the Chelsea right-back, James never made a United appearance after emerging from their youth ranks and left to sign for Wigan in 2015. The left-back spent three years with the Latics and now plays for Blackpool following spells with Sunderland and Doncaster.

Darren Fletcher – The Scottish midfielder’s 20-year association with United as both a youth player and senior star came to an end in February 2015, when he joined West Brom at the end of his contract. Fletcher later sealed a free move to Stoke before retiring and completing some punditry work. After initially returning to United as a member of the coaching staff, he is now the club’s technical director.

Darren Fletcher
Darren Fletcher, now United’s technical director, called time on his playing career at Old Trafford to sign for West Brom


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Anderson – Another long-serving United midfielder who moved on in February 2015, Anderson returned to Brazil to spend two years with Internacional and then spent as long with Turkish club Adana Demirspor before hanging up his boots in September 2020.

Nemanja Vidic – One half of United’s greatest ever Premier League centre-back partnership along with Rio Ferdinand, Vidic opted to depart Old Trafford in 2014 and head to Inter, spending a year-and-a-half with the Italian club before retiring in January 2016.

Anders Lindegaard – After being released by the Red Devils in 2015 the Danish goalkeeper signed for West Brom, only to leave without making an appearance in 2016. He then spent time with Preston and Burnley before joining current club Helsingborg.

Tom Cleverley – The United academy graduate left upon the expiry of his contract in 2015 and moved to Everton, spending to years at Goodison Park before signing for Watford. He remains an integral member of the newly-promoted Premier League club.

Tom Cleverley
Tom Cleverley left upon the expiry of his contract in 2015 and moved to Everton

Ben Amos – Amos was released by United in the summer of 2015 and chose to sign for Championship club Bolton. Now in between the sticks for League One outfit Wigan after spells with Cardiff, Charlton and Millwall.

Rio Ferdinand – Legendary United centre-back Ferdinand waved goodbye to Old Trafford at the end of the 2013/14 campaign and, after failing to secure a desired move to Arsenal, joined QPR. He retired after an unsuccessful year at Loftus Road and is now a pundit on BT Sport.

Federico Macheda – He scored a famous goal on his Red Devils debut, but that was as good as it got for Macheda in Manchester. The Italian striker left to join Cardiff in 2014 after a number of unsuccessful loans. Now plays for Panathinaikos after spells with Nottingham Forest and Novara.

Vanja Milinković-Savić – The goalkeeper never made a United appearance and left in 2014. Now on the books of Italian side Torino.

Rio Ferdinand in action for QPR
Rio Ferdinand had an unsuccessful year at QPR and then retired after leaving United in 2014

Davide Petrucci – Had his United contract terminated in 2014 and then enjoyed stints with Ascoli, CFR Cluj, Çaykur Rizespor and Cosenza. Now plies his trade with Israeli outfit Hapoel Be’er Sheva

Tom Thorpe – The 28-year-old, who left Old Trafford in 2015 with one appearance under his belt, has been without a professional club for three years after spells with Rotherham, Bradford, Bolton and Indian Super League side ATK.

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