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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Manchester United: The club's 10 most expensive players

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Manchester United smashed their record transfer fee to acquire the services of Spanish midfielder Juan Mata from Chelsea. A fee of £37.1 million was enough to convince the Blues to part with the talented 25-year-old and now the Spaniard is relishing the new challenge under David Moyes at the Theatre of Dreams.

The Premier League champions have spent vast sums of money on players over the past 20 years. Some arrivals have been value for money, while others have failed to live up to their price tag. 

Mata united
Here we will take a look back at the fortunes of Manchester United's 10 most expensive players and determine whether Mata will be a hit or a miss at Old Trafford.

10. David De Gea - £18.9 million

Sir Alex Ferguson bought arguably the greatest goalkeeper of the past 20 years for just £505,000 in 1991 when he brought Peter Schmeichel to these shores. He was never going to pick up a bargain like that again. In 2011 he shelled out almost £19 million on a young and upcoming David De Gea. The former Atletico man had a ropey start at United, but he has now adapted to the pace and physicality of the English game and is now one of the best keepers in the league. HIT

9. Ruud van Nistelrooy - £19 million

The Dutchman had been on Fergie's radar for a long, long time before he finally got his man in 2001. Van the Man only spent five seasons at United but he won every trophy domestically, was crowned Champions League top scorer in three seasons and won the Premier League's Golden Boot. Van Nistelrooy was simply lethal inside the box. HIT

8. Anderson - £20.4 million

Sir Alex didn't get it right all of the time! In 2007 he paid Porto this vast sum for the Brazilian midfielder, but Anderson has never managed to force his way into becoming a first-team regular. In seven seasons he has made only 104 Premier League appearances. Earlier this month he joined Fiorentina on loan. MISS

Rvpcelebrate7. Robin van Persie - £24 million

Having won nothing at Arsenal Robin van Persie forced his way out of the Emirates into the loving and winning arms of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2012. Despite finishing as the Premier League's top scorer at Arsenal, some critics baulked at the amount of money United were spending on the injury-prone Dutchman. How silly did they look as RVP guided United to their 20th league title with 26 goals in his first season? HIT

6. Wayne Rooney - £27 million

In 2004 Everton superkid Wayne Rooney left his boyhood club for United to satisfy his appetite for trophies, and what a great decision that turned out to be. Apart from the FA Cup, Rooney has won it all at United. He is on course to overtake Sir Bobby Charlton's long-standing goalscoring record and has given every United fan memories that will live long in the memory. With contract talks now under way, Rooney could well cement his place as a United great if he sees out his contract here. HIT

5. Marouane Fellaini - £27.4 million

David Moyes's first major signing for United hasn't exactly gone to plan. Moyes knew all about Fellaini from his time at Everton, where the Belgian did have an impact on the game. But this is United. Fellaini couldn't possibly turn down a move to the Premier League champions, but he has it all to do to win over the United fans. MISS

4. Juan Sebastian Veron - £28.1 million

Hopefully the new Juan will not be as big of a disappointment as this Juan was. Veron arrived in a blaze of glory. He was the Argentinean playmaker who had everyone after him. At the time it was  a massive signing by United. However, it didn't take long to realise that Veron just wasn't suited to the English game. Two years after his arrival, Fergie sold him to Chelsea at almost half price. MISS

Rio ferdinand3. Rio Ferdinand - £29.3 million

In 2002 Manchester United broke the transfer record for a defender by raiding Leeds United for the former West Ham United star. Ferdinand was a class act and settled in at Old Trafford immediately. Calm on the ball, great burst of pace and a wonderful reader of the game, Ferdinand could snuff out danger three moves before anything could happen. Injuries and old father time though has caught up with the former England international and it looks at though his time at United is coming to an end. HIT

2. Dimitar Berbatov - £30.7 million

Sir Alex Ferguson beat rivals City to the signature of Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov just before the transfer window slammed shut in 2008. He had to pay almost £31 million to do it though! Dimitar was a class act. His flicks and vision were second to none, but his workrate was not up to scratch - especially when he had the busy bee Tevez buzzing here, there and everywhere beside him. The Bulgarian won two Premier League titles with United and shared the Golden Boot, but never managed to cement his place in the first team. MISS

1. Juan Mata - £37.1 million

The Spanish playmaker has a huge weight of expectation resting on his shoulders, but the former Chelsea man knows this league like the back of his hand and is a born winner. Question marks remain over where he will play and whether United will switch systems to accommodate him, but with Mata, Rooney and RVP leading the charge, United will boast one of the most lethal forward line in the game. HIT

Calling all United fans: Do you think Mata has what it takes to be a hit at Old Trafford? Has David Moyes paid over the odds for the Spaniard? Can Mata get United back into the top four this season? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.

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Colin Illingworth



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