Van Gaal’s transfer woes: His 13 Manchester United buys

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When Manchester United fans think back to the tenure of Louis van Gaal, it is unlikely to be with anything other than disappointment.

There was an FA Cup triumph in May 2016, but by that point the writing was on the wall and the Dutchman was hurtling towards an early retirement.

Off the pitch, he made a series of high-profile transfers totalling £258.5million, but six of the 13 players have already packed their bags and headed for pastures new.

After Bastian Schweinsteiger announced he was heading to America this week, Sportsmail takes a look back at each of Van Gaal’s signings…  

Louis van Gaal signed 13 players during his time at Manchester United, spending £258.5m

1) Ander Herrera (£28.85m)

The first new man to arrive at Van Gaal’s United, and arguably the best of the bunch. Herrera began his Old Trafford career just a month after the Dutchman, costing the club £28.85m… a snip, given his current form and worth to the team.

He has already played 110 times for the club, and has been a mainstay in Jose Mourinho’s side this season. He outlasted Van Gaal by a distance, and is likely to stay for the foreseeable future.

In truth, he was not really a Van Gaal signing. United had been rebuffed the season before – during David Moyes’ time at the club – and the deal eventually went through a season later when the Premier League side upped their offer.

VERDICT: HIT 

Ander Herrera celebrates after winning his third trophy at United - the EFL Cup in February

Ander Herrera celebrates after winning his third trophy at United – the EFL Cup in February

2) Luke Shaw (£30m)

The left back has had a topsy-turvy time at United, in part due to his injury problems over the past two seasons. Currently, it could be argued the England man is third choice behind Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind, and his United career could well come to an end this summer.

At 21, his future is bright and it would be harsh to label him as a poor signing, but he has perhaps not quite reached the heights many would have expected of him after excelling in a three-year spell Southampton.

VERDICT: MISS 

Luke Shaw has been hampered by injuries, and has dropped in Jose Mourinho's pecking order

Luke Shaw has been hampered by injuries, and has dropped in Jose Mourinho’s pecking order

3) Marcos Rojo (£16m)

Another good signing, Rojo could well earn himself a new contract after excelling under Mourinho. He is certainly ahead of Shaw in the pecking order, and despite regular changes to the United back-line this season, he has managed to make 35 appearances in the first team.

At £16m, and given the current market, he was a cheap buy too… arriving with much promise from Sporting Lisbon in August 2014. Mourinho is said to be keen to extend Rojo’s stay in the North West, and the two parties are said to currently be in talks.

VERDICT: HIT 

Marcos Rojo was a reasonably cheap buy and is expected to be offered a contract extension

Marcos Rojo was a reasonably cheap buy and is expected to be offered a contract extension

4) Angel di Maria (£59.7m) – GONE

Well, here’s where Van Gaal’s transfer woes really began. August 26, 2014. Almost £60m shelled out for a player who featured 32 times. At £1.86m a game, £14.9m a goal. Worth it, Louis?

These things sometimes happen – a player arrives at a club and fails to settle – but when they move on to their next destination and score 15 goals the following season, it must sting a little.

Now at Paris Saint-Germain, Di Maria is back among the goals and is playing 90 minutes week in, week out… his time at United shoved firmly to the back of his mind.

VERDICT: MISS 

Much was expected of Angel di Maria at United, but he ended up costing £14.9m per goal

Much was expected of Angel di Maria at United, but he ended up costing £14.9m per goal

5) Daley Blind (£13.8m)

When Blind signed for United, much was spoken of the Dutch link between him and Van Gaal. He played for the manager in the national side, they know each other well… and in truth, Blind has not been a bad player at Old Trafford.

It started brilliantly; he made his debut in a 4-0 victory over QPR, United’s first win of the season, and the defender got his first goal the following month.

This season under Mourinho, though, Blind has played something of a bit-part role. He started as the first-choice centre back alongside Eric Bailly, but Mourinho’s regular rotation has seen him occupy a place on the bench more often than not. The next year or so will be telling in the 27-year-old’s career.

VERDICT: JURY’S OUT 

Daley Blind could still make an impact at United, but he has much to prove to boss Mourinho

Daley Blind could still make an impact at United, but he has much to prove to boss Mourinho

6) Radamel Falcao (£6m loan fee) – GONE

February 21, 2017. Van Gaal is sat at home watching Manchester City’s game against Monaco, when all of a sudden Radamel Falcao produces an audacious chip over Willy Caballero to net his second of the night. ‘Why didn’t he do that for me?,’ Van Gaal must have thought.

After shelling out a £6m loan fee to secure the services of one of the world’s most famous strikers in September 2014, many United fans were dreaming of lifting the title at the end of May. Alas, Falcao scored four goals in 29 appearances and headed for another (failed) loan spell at Chelsea the season after.

His rip-roaring success in Ligue 1 this term – 24 goals in 30 matches – will have left Van Gaal wondering what it was he did wrong.

VERDICT: MISS 

Striker Radamel Falcao was an unmitigated disaster, scoring just four goals in 29 appearances

Striker Radamel Falcao was an unmitigated disaster, scoring just four goals in 29 appearances

7) Victor Valdes (Free) – GONE

This seemed a win-win for all concerned back in October 2014. The injured Victor Valdes had a club to train with in order to get fit, and then United had a superb back-up keeper when he was ready. In truth, it was anything but.

He signed a contract the following January, but was limited to a place on the bench and a few Under-21 appearances. In the summer, he was placed on the transfer list, before heading out on loan to Standard Liege.

It was all a bit embarrassing: he was ostracised from the first-team, not given a squad number, placed on the transfer list… before eventually heading to Middlesbrough two months after Van Gaal was sacked.

VERDICT: MISS

Much of Victor Valdes' time on the pitch at United was spent warming up David de Gea

Much of Victor Valdes’ time on the pitch at United was spent warming up David de Gea

8) Anthony Martial (£36m)

United rushed into the signing of Anthony Martial, many said. They needed a striker on deadline day and just plumped for a teenager nobody had heard of. In fact, Martial has been brilliant in difficult circumstances at Old Trafford.

There was huge pressure on his shoulders, accelerated by the fact he scored three Premier League goals in his first two appearances. He went on to score 17 times last season and has seven this term.

In reality, the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the emergence of Marcus Rashford means he has had to ply his trade out wide, and there is still plenty of time for the 21-year-old Martial to make a real impact in English football.

VERDICT: HIT

Anthony Martial was signed by Van Gaal, but could still thrive under Mourinho in the future

Anthony Martial was signed by Van Gaal, but could still thrive under Mourinho in the future

9) Memphis Depay (£25m) – GONE

‘I have no bitterness towards Mourinho. I think I was not good enough for him.’ Memphis Depay’s United career ended in January when he headed to Lyon in a deal which could rise to £21.7m.

He is another player signed by Van Gaal who has gone on to excel beyond United, after struggling to click into gear on the hallowed turf at Old Trafford. He has netted five goals in 10 for the Ligue 1 outfit, and is bang in form.

Let’s be clear: he should have been better at United. For £25m, seven goals in 53 games was not good enough. United made sure they had a buy-back option when he was sold to Lyon. 

VERDICT: MISS

Memphis Depay is in fine form for Lyon this season, but he was poor in his 53 games at United

Memphis Depay is in fine form for Lyon this season, but he was poor in his 53 games at United

10) Matteo Darmian (£12.7m) 

Signed by Van Gaal to fill a problem position at right back following Gary Neville’s departure in 2011, Darmian was thought to be the solution.

The 27-year-old made a fast start to life at Old Trafford but lost his consistency after missing United’s festive fixtures in 2015 due to an injury.

His form has been topsy-turvy ever since and it would not come as a surprise if he was sold this summer. 

VERDICT: MISS 

Matteo Darmian was expected to be Gary Neville's replacement, but he hasn't hit the heights

Matteo Darmian was expected to be Gary Neville’s replacement, but he hasn’t hit the heights

11) Morgan Schneiderlin (£24m) – GONE

Another big-money purchase who was expected to work wonders at Manchester United. Signing from Southampton, fans at St Mary’s were distraught to see their star man leave for pastures new in the summer of 2015.

Van Gaal had secured a fourth-place finish in the league the previous season, and Schneiderlin was one of the players signed to help the side kick on towards the title the following year. In reality, he did not set the world alight, netting one goal in 39 appearances that season.

Under Mourinho, he played a meagre 147 competitive minutes and was shipped out to Everton in January.

VERDICT: MISS 

Morgan Schneiderlin packed his bags at United after falling out of favour under Mourinho

Morgan Schneiderlin packed his bags at United after falling out of favour under Mourinho

12) Bastian Schweinsteiger (£6.5m) – GONE 

United’s most recent departure, with the legendary German midfielder heading to America for his twilight years. The 32-year-old joined the club in the summer of 2015 with much promise after a stunning 13 years winning trophy after trophy at Bayern.

He played 31 times under Van Gaal, before a disastrous spell under Mourinho saw him spending more time taking pictures of the pitch from high in the stands than stepping on it. He was relegated to the Under 23s, was told to clear out his locker, and is now heading stateside. 

VERDICT: MISS 

Bastian Schweinsteiger is the latest to leave United as he heads to MLS for his twilight years

Bastian Schweinsteiger is the latest to leave United as he heads to MLS for his twilight years

13) Sergio Romero (Free)

Romero has proven to be a steady deputy to David de Gea during his rare stints in between the sticks at Old Trafford.

Signed by Van Gaal on a free transfer, Romero was thrust into the limelight during his first few months at Old Trafford as De Gea was close to joining Real Madrid.

However De Gea’s move to Madrid fell through meaning Romero had to make do with a watching role from the bench. Mourinho has opted to start the Argentina No 1 in the Europa League and he has not let him down. 

VERDICT: HIT 

Sergio Romero has been playing in the Europa League, providing fine back up for De Gea

Sergio Romero has been playing in the Europa League, providing fine back up for De Gea



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