Manchester United’s 18 January signings since 2003 ranked in order

French international defender Patrice Ev

Manchester United fans are desperately hoping Ed Woodward and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can bring in one or two new faces before the January transfer window closes.

The Red Devils currently sit fifth in the Premier League table, but recent performances suggest they’ll struggle to make the top four unless their squad is improved this month.

Scott McTominay and Harry Maguire are both injured, while the supposedly wantaway Paul Pogba is permanently on the treatment table these days.

But how have Man Utd fared when it comes to signings players in the notoriously difficult January transfer market?

We’ve looked back at all 18 of their January signings since the winter transfer window was introduced by the Premier League during the 2002/03 campaign. Let’s begin…

18. Andy Kellett (loan)

This was a weird one, wasn’t it?

Louis van Gaal brought Bolton’s 21-year-old left-back Andy Kellett to Old Trafford right at the end of the 2015 January window, leaving United fans scratching their heads.

Kellett, who was also wanted by Plymouth at the time, was the lowest-rated player in the Championship at the time (according to WhoScored) and never made a single appearance for the Red Devils.

He recently signed for non-league side AFC Fylde.

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17. Sadiq El Fitouri

Recommended to Man Utd by Phil Neville after catching the former England international’s eye at Salford City, Sadiq El Fitouri signed an 18-month contract with the Premier League giants in January 2015.

Despite making a handful of appearances for United’s Under-21s, the Libya international was unable to force his way into the first team and left Old Trafford for Chesterfield in 2017.

The 25-year-old is currently without a club.

Tottenham Hotspur U21 v Manchester United U21: Barclays U21 Premier League

16. Freddie Veseli

Another player who failed to make a first-team appearance for United, Freddie Veseli was snapped up from local rivals Manchester City in January 2012.

The defender, who played for Switzerland at youth level but has since earned 19 caps for Albania, joined Ipswich Town a year later and has plied his trade with Italian side Empoli since 2016.

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15. Rodrigo Possebon

One of the most highly-rated Brazilian youngsters back in 2008, Rodrigo Possebon’s career was never the same after he suffered a serious injury following a challenge from Middlesbrough captain Emanuel Pogatetz during a League Cup clash.

The midfielder’s career sadly fell off a cliff after he left Old Trafford. He last turned out for Vietnamese side Ho Chi Minh City and hasn’t played professionally since 2018 - despite only being 30 years old.

Manchester United's Brazilian midfielder

14. Dong Fangzhuo

Nicknamed the ‘Chinese Rooney’, Dong Fangzhuo didn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as Man Utd’s all-time leading goalscorer.

The striker made a couple of appearances for United - including against Chelsea, whose players applauded Dong and co. prior to kick-off for winning the Premier League title, in May 2007 - but it was patently clear that he lacked the ability required to play for the Red Devils.

It was reported a couple of years back that he underwent plastic surgery in a big to escape constant mockery, which is awful to hear. He last played for Hebei China Fortune in 2014.

Manchester United's Chinese striker Fang...

13. Manucho

Manucho earned himself a three-year(!) contract at Man Utd in January 2008 after impressing Ferguson during a trial period.

But the Angola international, who went on to enjoy a decent’ish career away from Old Trafford, arrived at a time where competition for a first-team place was fierce to put it lightly.

It wasn’t long before he was offloaded permanently to Real Valladolid following loan spells at Panathinaikos and Hull City.

Manchester United v Stoke City - Premier League

12. Zoran Tosic

A fine player but a little too lightweight and, by his own admission, he was slightly overawed after joining United’s star-studded squad in January 2009.

The left-footed winger only made five appearances for United before Ferguson decided he’d seen enough.

Tosic went on to enjoy seven productive years with CSKA Moscow before joining Partizan in 2017.

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - FA Cup 4th Round

11. Victor Valdes

Victor Valdes’s best days were behind him by the time he joined United, who wanted a decent back-up goalkeeper for David de Gea, whose future at Old Trafford was far from certain at the time.

Valdes made two appearances during the 2014/15 campaign but his relationship with Van Gaal deteriorated to the point that he wasn’t even allowed a dressing-room locker.

He became an outcast at United and would eventually sign for Middlesbrough in 2016 before retiring a year later.

Manchester United v Southampton - Premier League

10. Wilfried Zaha

The one that got away. Ferguson’s final signing was mismanaged by David Moyes, who only used the talented winger four times during the ill-fated 2013/14 campaign.

Wilfried Zaha returned to Crystal Palace in August 2014 and has since established his status as one of the Premier League’s best attack-minded players.

If only Fergie had stayed at Old Trafford for one more season. Things might have been very different for the Ivory Coast international.

Kitchee FC v Manchester United

9. Ritchie De Laet

Ritchie De Laet made six appearances for Man Utd before joining Leicester City in 2012.

The Belgian defender, who currently plies his trade with Royal Antwerp, became a Premier League champion with the Foxes in 2016.

Fulham's Irish player Damien Duff (R) vi

8. Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez might be 8th/18th on this list of United’s January signings, but make no mistake about it: barring the odd moment, the Chilean was utterly dreadful at Old Trafford. He’s reasonably high up on this list due to the fact he made more than a handful of appearances.

United fans were so excited when he joined from Arsenal in January 2018. This was arguably the Premier League’s best player at the time.

But his reputation took a spectacular nose-dive during his 18 months in Manchester, where he scored just five goals in 45 games and cost the club an obscene £500,000 a week.

A truly disastrous signing.

Manchester United v Southampton FC - Premier League

7. Anders Lindegaard

Anders Lindegaard provided De Gea with some stiff competition during the Spaniard’s first couple of seasons at Old Trafford.

He got a run of starts in both the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons before De Gea cemented his status as the club’s undisputed first-choice goalkeeper.

The Denmark international went on to play for West Brom, Preston and Burnley before signing for Helsingborgs in 2019.

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6. Henrik Larsson (loan)

Ferguson brought Celtic legend Henrik Larsson to Old Trafford on a short-term loan deal in January 2007 and the Swedish striker made quite the impact during his brief stay.

He scored three goals in 13 appearances for the Red Devils and became an instant favourite with the fans thanks to his quality and attitude.

If only United had signed him earlier in his career…

Manchester United's Swedish forward Henr

5. Paul Scholes

When the news filtered through that Paul Scholes had come out of retirement and was in the squad to face Manchester City in January 2012, it was a genuinely magical moment for United fans.

Scholes, who had hung up his boots six months earlier, went on to make another 42 appearances for the Red Devils, taking his overall tally to 718.

He was still capable of dictating the tempo of matches during his final 18 months with United and went on to win another Premier League winners’ medal to his collection before retiring for good in the summer of 2013.

Norwich City v Manchester United - Premier League

4. Louis Saha

Louis Saha did brilliantly for Man Utd after signing from Fulham for £12.4 million in January 2004.

Forty-two goals in 124 games over five seasons was a decent return from a player who sadly missed a lot of matches through injury.

He won two Premier League titles, the League Cup and the UEFA Champions League before moving on to Everton in 2008. United fans will always remember the Frenchman fondly.

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3. Juan Mata

Juan Mata has been a class act for Man Utd both on and off the pitch since his shock arrival from Chelsea in January 2014.

The Spaniard hasn’t been able to replicate the same level of performance that he produced at Chelsea, where he won the club’s Player of the Season award in back-to-back years, but he’s still been a fine player for the Red Devils.

For ‘Juanfield’ alone, Mata deserves to rank high up this particular list.

Liverpool v Manchester United - Premier League

2. Patrice Evra

After struggling badly on his debut against Man City, Patrice Evra knuckled down and went on to become arguably Man Utd’s greatest ever left-back.

The Frenchman was exceptional for the vast majority of his time at Old Trafford, making 379 appearances and chipping in with 10 goals.

He got what it meant to play for United and still loves the club now.

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1. Nemanja Vidic

But just edging out Evra to top spot, it’s his former defensive teammate Nemanja Vidic.

The fearsome Serbia international, whose partnership with Rio Ferdinand at the heart of United’s defence will always be remembered as one of the best centre-back pairings of the Premier League era, was an absolute warrior who captained the club for three years after Gary Neville’s departure.

Vidic played a key role in United’s success between 2006-2014 and is unquestionably one of the greatest defenders the club has ever had.

Manchester United v Hull City - Premier League

The flops far outweigh the stars on this list, which shows how difficult it can be to sign the right players in January.

Even Fergie struggled (on occasions) when it came to bringing in top players midway through a season.

But there are enough success stories to encourage Woodward and Solskjaer that signing players in the winter *can* pay off.

There could well be another Vidic or Evra somewhere crying out to be signed.

It’s down to the powers that be at Old Trafford to spot these gems and get the deals over the line in time.

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