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Rio Ferdinand: Only three Manchester United players have met expectations in the last decade



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Former Manchester United defender and club legend Rio Ferdinand has named the only three players he feels have met expectations at Old Trafford in the last decade.

Manchester United‘s recruitment in the last decade has been overwhelmingly disappointing, considering the amount of money the club have spent since Sir Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford.

Although Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS are set to overhaul the entire recruitment structure at United, names such as Antony, Angel di Maria, and Romelu Lukaku are evidence of the club’s failure to recruit recent big-money signings that have the desired impact.

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Manchester United have spent over £1.5 billion on transfers since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 and have just four trophies to show for it, with zero Premier League or Champions League titles.

Rio Ferdinand, club legend and former central defender, knows a thing or two about expectations. He himself had the British transfer record broken twice for his services, once when Leeds United bought him for £18 million in 2000, and two years later when United once again broke the record to sign him for around £30 million.

Speaking on The Sports Agents podcast, Ferdinand explained that he feels only three players the club signed actually met the expectations set when they arrived at Old Trafford.

“When you look at the recruitment, I think there are only three players that I can remember coming in and then going, ‘Okay, they’ve played at a level that you would have expected’,” Ferdinand explained.

“Bruno [Fernandes], Cristiano [Ronaldo] and Zlatan [Ibrahimovic]. The only three players I thought that you go, ‘Actually I saw consistently what I expected to see from them’.

“Everyone else just fell well short. For whatever reason it is, they just haven’t hit a standard you expect them to come in for.

“There’s no value in them in what you expect. So they have to get to the bottom of that.”

Of these signings, Bruno Fernandes was the most expensive. He signed from Sporting Lisbon for a fee of around £47 million in January 2020 and has since become the club captain and an iconic figure at Old Trafford.

Cristiano Ronaldo was re-signed in September 2021 for a fee of around £12.5 million from Juventus and performed incredibly well during his second spell at the club, scoring 24 goals in 37 appearances. He left a few months into Erik ten Hag’s reign at Old Trafford following differences with the Dutch manager.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was a fantastic signing at United. Although he was only at Old Trafford for 18 months, he scored 30 goals under Jose Mourinho, leading the club to two trophies and a Community Shield in the process.