Man Utd reveal Premier League record annual revenue but still make loss
As many as 24 players have been signed by Manchester United and then departed since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, but the club have lost a staggering £495million and made a profit on just one. The Red Devils have been cautious of Financial Fair Play constraints over the past two seasons under Erik ten Hag, but some better decisions in previous windows could have prevented them from being hamstrung in the market.
Ahead of the 2013/14 season, David Moyes was handpicked to replace Ferguson but only one player followed him through the door when Marouane Fellaini also left Everton for Old Trafford. The towering Belgian came in for £32.4m and after years of service United recouped just £7.2m as he moved to China. Juan Mata joined in January from Chelsea for £44.7m but he would leave eight years later on a free transfer.
Moyes was sacked and replaced by Louis van Gaal who brought in four senior players that season in Angel Di Maria, Ander Herrera, Marcus Rojo and Danny Blind for a combined £148.5m. However, just Di Maria and Blind were sold for a transfer fee, albeit at a loss of £12m and £1.5m respectively. Youngster Vanja Milinkovic-Savic also joined for £1.8m and left for free the following year after failing to gain a work permit.
Van Gaal’s second season then saw Morgan Schneiderlin, Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sergio Romero head to Old Trafford. The Argentinian goalkeeper joined and left on a free, while no money was recouped for the £9m spent on Schweinsteiger.
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Darmian similarly cost £18m but was sold to Inter Milan for £2.5m where he went on to reach the Champions League final last season. Depay and Schneiderlin arrived with plenty of promise but United only got back half of the combined £69m spent on the disappointing pair.
Jose Mourinho joined the following summer and splashed out by paying a record fee to bring academy product Paul Pogba back to the club. However, his story ended in a similar fashion to those before him as he ended his United pain by leaving on a free transfer to Juventus last year.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan also joined for £42m but left as part of a swap deal for Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, with the Armenian valued at £35m in the deal. Zlatan Ibrahimovic joined and left, both on free transfers.
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Sanchez was the next big-name signing to come in, only to then leave for free. Nemanja Matic suffered the same fate after his £44.7m Chelsea transfer. Romelu Lukaku did not enjoy the impact he was hoping for, but United did at least make only a £10m loss after splashing out £84m on the Everton star.
The 2018 summer was Mourinho’s last before being succeeded by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Fred and Lee Grant came in but once again United did not make their money back on either player – losing £50m once the Brazilian midfielder’s move to Fenerbahce was confirmed this summer.
Under Solskjaer, United made their first profit on a signed player since Ferguson retired. Dan James joined from Swansea for £17.8m and then was sold to Leeds two years later for £29.1m, their sole financial success in the transfer market.
Edinson Cavani followed Ibrahimovic’s footsteps in 2020 by signing and leaving on free transfers, while Alex Telles came in for £15m but only a meager £4.6m was brought in when he left for Al Nassr.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the last player to have been bought by United and since left the club, having arrived from Juventus for £17m but his contract was torn up after a public row with Ten Hag.
Having spent £774m and received just £279m for a total loss of £495, making a profit on just one player, United will certainly hope that this can be an area of recruitment in the future.
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