MANCHESTER UNITED sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a world record £ 80million in the summer of 2009.
The Red Devils reinvested this money in NEW players (and a half) as they rebuilt themselves without the Portuguese superstar.
But the jury is still out on whether the monstrous amount of money was well spent.
There have been big successes and even bigger hiccups.
Check out the £ 80million of talent set to fill the Ronaldo-shaped void, below …
ANTONIO VALENCE – £ 18million
FLYING winger at Wigan, Valencia were to be a comparable substitute for Ronaldo – without the prolific eye for goal.
And although he was eventually turned into a right-back – contrary to the original plan – the Ecuadorian was a clear success at Old Trafford.
Valencia played more than 300 times for United and even enjoyed a stint as club captain before leaving in 2019.
Total spent: £ 18m
MICHAEL OWEN – Free
To make up for Ronaldo’s loss of goals, Sir Alex Ferguson brought Owen on a Newcastle free-kick – and even gave him the No.7 shirt for the Portuguese ace.
A controversial signing given his roots at Liverpool, Owen – still just 29 at the time – is 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-breath winner in a 4-3 epic against Manchester City.
But Owen only managed three goals for the Red Devils that season and joined Stoke in 2012 with just five Premier League goals to his name.
Total spent: £ 18m
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 – saying he had been stalking him ‘for a few years’.
Obertan struggled with injuries – and form – before being sold to Newcastle after two appalling seasons.
The French flop then played for Anzhi Makhachkala, Wigan and Levski Sofia.
Obertan is now turning out for Turkish second division club 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 Ronaldo’s void.
After a loan to Molde – from whom United signed it – Diouf returned and quickly took the No32 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 the Turkish team of Super Lig Hatayspor.
Total spent: £ 25.7m
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 first 2010-11 season – and was on loan three times before selling him in 2014.
The former Portugal Under-21 international is set to play in La Liga in 2021-22 after Rayo Vallecano – where he has been since 2017 – were promoted last season.
Still just 31 years old, Bebe scored six times in 26 Segunda Division games en route to promotion last season.
But for Bebe, unfortunately, he will be forever remembered as a club flop in the same league as Eric Djemba-Djemba and Kleberson.
Total spent: £ 33.6m
CHRIS SMALLING – £ 7.2million
AFTER Maidstone United’s meteoric rise 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 for David Moyes, Louis van Gaal – who had once called him “Mike” – and Jose Mourinho.
Smalling has played more than 300 times for United and won all of his 31 international caps at Old Trafford.
The defender flourished on a loan from Rome in 2019-20, before joining definitively last summer for a net profit – selling him for £ 18.1million.
Total spent: £ 40.8m
JAVIER HERNANDEZ – £ 6.8m
AFTER 13 years at Mexican side Guadalajara, United signed Hernandez for 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 last enjoyed just over two seasons at West Ham, before joining Sevilla – and now playing for MLS LA Galaxy.
Total spent: £ 47.6m
ANDERS LINDEGAARD - £ 4.5million
PURCHASED from Norwegian team Aalesund in the 2010-11 Winter Window, Lindegaard played third violin behind Edwin van der Sar and Tomasz Kuszczak.
His cause was not much helped by the arrival of David de Gea the following year.
In total, the five-cap Denmark international only made 19 Premier League appearances in five seasons before being sold to West Brom.
Lindegaard went on to play for Preston and Burnley before joining Helsingborg, where he still plays at the age of 37.
Total spent: £ 52.1m
YOUNG ASHLEY – £ 17million
AFTER four years apiece in the first teams at Watford and Aston Villa, United signed Young at the height of their 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 had seen since his exit.
But, just like Valencia, the quick winger was later pushed back to the rear by Old Trafford bosses.
Young played nearly 200 Premier League games in eight and a half seasons before joining Inter Milan – initially on loan and then permanently.
The England star of 39 caps 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 £ 10.9million remaining in Ronaldo’s budget two years after his departure, United have spent £ 22.5million on a young Spanish cap named De Gea from Atletico Madrid.
We think it’s fair that we credit the club for using Ronaldo’s remaining money on the goalkeeper.
De Gea, of course, has been incredible for Man Utd despite a slight wobble in recent seasons …
The Spaniard won United’s Player of the Year award THREE times during their most difficult time in recent memory and will go down as one of their most profitable signings of all time.
?? Read our Upload Live News Blog for the latest rumors, gossip and closed deals