MANCHESTER UNITED sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a world record £80m in the summer of 2009.
The Red Devils have reinvested this money in NEW (and a half) players as they rebuild without the Portuguese superstar.
But the jury is still out on whether the monstrous sum of money was well spent.
There have been big hits and even bigger misses.
Check out the £80m worth of talent set to fill the void in Ronaldo’s form, below…
ANTONIO VALENCIA – £18m
A FLYING winger at Wigan, Valencia was expected to be a drop-in replacement for Ronaldo – minus the prolific eye for goal.
And although he was eventually turned into a right-back – contrary to the original plan – the Ecuadorian has been an indisputable success at Old Trafford.
Valencia played over 300 times for United and even enjoyed a stint as club captain before leaving in 2019.
Total spent: £18 million
MICHAEL OWEN – Free
To make up for losing Ronaldo’s goals, Sir Alex Ferguson brought in Owen on a free from Newcastle – and even gave him the Portugal ace’s No.7 shirt.
A controversial signing given his Liverpool roots, Owen – who was still just 29 at the time – was expected to score a few goals off the bench.
The ex-England star will always have a place in the hearts of United fans after his spectacular last-gasp winner in a 4-3 epic streak against Manchester City.
But Owen managed just three goals for the Red Devils that season and joined Stoke in 2012 with just five Premier League strikes to his name.
Total spent: £18 million
GABRIEL OBERTAN – £3.6m
CHEAP? Yes. Great potential? Apparently? Aptitude. Uh, not really.
Fergie excited the Frenchman after signing the ‘exciting prospect’ for less than £4million from Bordeaux – claiming he had been following him ‘for a few years’.
Obertan struggled with injury – and form – before being sold to Newcastle after two dreadful seasons.
The French flop then played for Anzhi Makhachkala, Wigan and Levski Sofia.
Obertan now turns out for Turkish second-tier side Erzurumpspor.
Since 2009, when he joined United, Obertan has scored just 13 league goals… in 12 years.
Total spent: £21.6m
MAME BIRAM DIOUF – £4.1m
DIOUF was United’s fourth and final purchase of the 2009 window as Fergie signed a number of forwards to fill the Ronaldo void.
After a spell on loan at Molde – from whom United signed him – Diouf returned and quickly took the No.32 shirt from Carlos Tevez.
But the Senegalese striker failed to impress with just A goal in five games and was sold to Hanover in the winter of 2012, before returning to England in 2014 to spend six years at Stoke.
Diouf now plays for Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor.
Total spent: £25.7 million
BABY – £7.9m
FERGUSON admitted he had never seen Bebe play…that should have been the first red flag.
Bebe only played twice for United – both in his 2010-11 debut season – and was loaned out three times before selling him in 2014.
The former Portugal Under-21 international is currently set to play in La Liga in 2021-22 after Rayo Vallecano – where he has been since 2017 – was promoted last season.
Still 31, Bebe netted six times in 26 Segunda Division games en route to promotion last season.
But for Bebe, sadly, it will forever be remembered as a flop club in the same league as Eric Djemba-Djemba and Kleberson.
Total spent: £33.6m
CHRIS SMALLING – £7.2m
AFTER a meteoric rise from Maidstone United to Fulham, United signed Smalling in 2010 after two years in west London.
Although he was never Nemanja Vidic or Rio Ferdinand, the former England ace was a solid player for United for Fergie and later David Moyes, Louis van Gaal – who once called him ‘Mike’ – and Jose Mourinho .
Smalling played over 300 times for United and won all of his 31 international caps at Old Trafford.
The defender thrived on loan at Roma in 2019-20, before joining permanently last summer for a handsome profit – selling him for £18.1million.
Total spent: £40.8 million
JAVIER HERNANDEZ – £6.8m
AFTER 13 years at Mexican side Guadalajara, United signed Hernandez on a bargain in 2010.
He scored 59 times in 152 games in his first four seasons, before being loaned to Real Madrid in 2014 and then sold to Bayer Leverkusen in 2015.
Hernandez Laster enjoyed just over two seasons at West Ham, before joining Sevilla – and now plays for MLS side LA Galaxy.
Total spent: £47.6 million
ANDERS LINDEGAARD - £4.5million
PURCHASED from Norwegian side Aalesund in the 2010-11 winter window, Lindegaard played third fiddle for Edwin van der Sar and Tomasz Kuszczak.
His cause was not helped much by the arrival of David de Gea the following year.
In total, the five-cap Denmark international played just 19 Premier League games in five seasons before being sold to West Brom.
Lindegaard then played for Preston and Burnley before joining Helsingborg, where he still plays at 37.
Total spent: £52.1m
ASHLEY YOUNG – £17million
AFTER four years each in the first teams at Watford and Aston Villa, United signed Young at the height of his powers in the summer of 2011.
Pacey and a real threat from dead-ball situations at Villa Park, United fans hoped he would be the closest thing to Ronaldo they’ve seen since his exit.
But, just like Valencia, the quick winger was then pushed back by Old Trafford bosses.
Young played nearly 200 Premier League games in eight and a half seasons before joining Inter Milan – first on loan and then on a permanent basis.
The 39-cap England star joined Villa earlier this summer.
Total spent: £69.1m
CONTEST: SPOT THE BALL TO WIN A CAR AND MONEY
…AND HALF OF DAVID DE GEA
WITH £10.9m remaining in Ronaldo’s budget two years after his departure, United have splashed out £22.5m on a young Spanish stopper named De Gea from Atletico Madrid.
We think it’s fair to credit the club for using their remaining Ronaldo money on the goalkeeper.
De Gea, of course, has been incredible for Man Utd despite a slight wobble in recent seasons… and a shaky start that included a series of high-profile blunders and being accused of stealing a donut from a Tesco store.
The Spaniard won United’s Player of the Year award THREE times during their toughest time in recent memory and will go down as one of their best signings of all time.
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