Manchester United’s biggest transfer flops: where are they now?
Every club makes mistakes in the transfer markets and Manchester United’s biggest transfer flops are well documented. Fans of most clubs could easily name some of United’s worst signings.
But what became of the ill-judged acquisitions and expensive flops after they left at Old Trafford? Here’s a round-up of what some of United’s worst signings are doing now.
The Cameroon international was signed from French side Nantes for £3.5m in 2003 and was touted as a potential successor to Roy Keane in United’s midfield. That didn’t materialise, with Djemba-Djemba restricted to just 20 Premier League outings in 18 months at Old Trafford.
Now aged 38, Djemba-Djemba is still playing for Swiss fifth divison side FC Vallorbe-Ballaigues, who he joined in 2016, as he winds down a career that has taken him to Aston Villa, Qatar, Denmark, Israel, Serbia, Scotland, India, France and Indonesia since he left Old Trafford.
Bebe joined United for an undisclosed fee reported to be in the region of £7.4m in August 2010. The deal came after just five weeks on the books of Portuguese side Vitória de Guimarães, who he had joined from Estrela da Amadora earlier that summer.
In his four years as a United player, he made just two Premier League appearances. He scored two goals in seven appearances in all competitions. After loan spells at Besiktas, Rio Ave and Pacos de Ferreira, he made a permanent move to Benfica in 2014.
Still aged only 29, Bebe in now plying his trade in Spain’s second division for Rayo Vallecano. He spent a season on loan with Rayo in 2015/16, returned in 2017 and has been there since. He has four goals in 41 appearances in his second stint with the club.
After a strong showing at the 2002 World Cup in Brazil, midfielder Kleberson joined United for a £6.5m from Atletico Paranaense in August 2003. He made 30 appearances in two seasons at Old Trafford, scoring two goals.
In 2008, the World Cup winner moved to Besiktas, where he spent two seasons before returning to his homeland with Flamengo, Atletico and Bahia. He ended his playing career in the USA, with spells at Philadelphia Union, Indy Eleven and Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
After hanging up his boots in 2016, he returned to the Union in 2017 and is currently the MLS side’s Under-12s coach.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s attempts to find a long-term successor to Peter Schmeichel were infamously difficult. That included the signing of Taibi from , who was signed from Venezia for £4.5m in 1999.
His time at Old Trafford, which totalled four appearances, is best remembered for his howler against Southampton. He left in January 2000 to join Reggina and played the rest of his career in his homeland with Atalanta, Torino and Ascoli.
The 50-year-old (pictured above) is now back at Reggina as sporting director.
There were high hopes for Tosic when he joined United from Partizan Belgrade in a £7.2m deal in January 2009. He left a year and five appearances later, initially joining Koln on loan before making a permanent switch to CSKA Moscow, where he spent the next seven years.
The 32-year-old currently plays in China’s second tier for Taizhou Yuanda.
Juan Sebastian Veron
Veron made far more appearances for United than most of the other transfer flops on this list, so his inclusion is based on his failure to live up to expectations.
He joined from Lazio for a fee of £28.1m in July 2001, which was a British transfer record at that time. Although the Argentina international made 82 appearances and scored 11 goals for United, he was offloaded to Chelsea after two seasons having failed to really make his mark in United’s midfield.
After leaving Stamford Bridge, he spent two years at Inter Milan nefore spending the final eight seasons of his career at boyhood club Estudiantes. He became Estudiantes’ president in 2014 and was reelected for another three-year term in 2017.
Like Taibi, Bosnich was another one of the ill-fated attempts to sign a replacement for Schmeichel. Having been on United’s books as a youngster between 1989 and 1991, he rejoined from Aston Villa on a free transfer in 1999.
Initially first-choice for the 1999/00 season, he lost his place in the team to Taibi and then 37-year-old Raimond van der Gouw. Fabien Barthez was signed the following summer and Bosnich did not play for United again. He joined Chelsea on a free transfer in January 2001. Sir Alex Ferguson has since branded him a “terrible professional”. The Australian’s eating habits were of particular concern to the legendary United boss. In response, Bosnich likes to point out that he is the only player Fergie opted to sign twice during his long reign at Old Trafford.
Bosnich, aged 48, is now a pundit for Fox Sports in his homeland. His duties include hosting the Bill and Boz panel show.
Anderson is the longest serving flop on the list. The £25m signing from Porto spent eight-and-a-half seasons at Old Trafford. He won four Premier League titles, the Champions League and a League Cup in 181 appearances, but is still remembered as a flop. That is partly due to the fact that injury prevented the Brazilian being the driving midfield force United hoped they were getting, but there were also concerns over his lifestyle.
He joined Internactional in his homeland on a free transfer in 2015. For the past two seasons, the 32-year-old was most recently playing in Turkey with Adana Demirspor, but retired in September 2019 after just one appearance this season.
The Turkish side announced that he would be taking up an off-field role at the club, with some reports describing him as a director and others suggesting he would be involved in international relations as a club ambassador. Evidence of what he has been doing in his new job since the announcement is thin on the ground.
We haven’t included some of United’s recent transfer flops. Alexis Sanchez, Wilfried Zaha and Angel di Maria are among United’s worst signings, but given that their professional careers are still very easy to follow it didn’t make any sense to include them in this article.