Could Lukaku join the 5 biggest transfer flops in Manchester United history?


With Romelu Lukaku’s British record transfer to Manchester United confirmed earlier this week, a lot of fans have suggested that the move carries a high risk of the Belgian becoming one of the club’s biggest flops to date. Old Trafford has seen waves of high-profile players who’ve failed to live up their potential, and these are the five who struggled more than any to grace the sacred turf.

 

Juan Sebastián Verón


“I have no fear of the Premiership,” Juan Sebastián Verón said when he was brought to Manchester United by Sir Alex Ferguson in 2001, in an attempt to maintain the club’s dominance in domestic and European competition. £28.1m was the fee, then the biggest in the history of English football, which was vastly used as a criticism when the Argentine failed to become familiar with the more aggressive nature of play.

After spending five years in Serie A, a much more steady and tactical competition, Verón simply never got going in the English top flight, but shone in the Reds’ two Champions League campaigns during his stay, before injury overshadowed the majority of his remaining time at Old Trafford. For his price tag, the centre-midfielder’s return meant he was worthy of being labelled a flop. Chelsea’s Claudio Ranieri offered him an escape at the start of the 2003/2004 season, where he was similarly disappointing.

 

Ángel Di María

Ángel Di María is Argentine number two of the list, because three goals and 10 assists wasn’t exactly an ideal contribution for a player who cost the club a British record £60m back in the summer of 2014. From persistent injury problems making a decent run of games non-existent during his spell, to a terrifying break-in at his home, nothing seemed to go his way in England and he subsequently departed after just one season when Paris-Saint Germain came calling.

It remains a mystery as to whether Di María struggled to adapt because he wasn’t initially intending to stay at Old Trafford for the long haul, or he fell victim to Louis van Gaal’s strict, dull attacking instructions. “Manchester was a sad experience,” the former Real Madrid star told French L’Equipe last year, and added that he doesn’t “want to remember” his time in the Premier League. The feeling’s mutual, Ángel.

 

Memphis Depay

After Ángel Di María’s torrid period wearing the no. 7 shirt at Manchester United, it was almost impossible to think that there could be an even worse individual to represent the iconic number (excluding Michael Owen), but Memphis Depay proved us wrong. Just like his predecessor, the young Dutchman showed glimpses of quality in the opening months of his United career, highlighted by a stunning double in the 2015/2016 Champions League play-off against Club Bruges.

Memphis had every chance to become a sensation at the club when he first joined, considering he tore the Dutch Eredivise apart at PSV Eindhoven the season before. But his ego and lax attitude towards learning clearly was a major hurdle. It can only be seen as a positive that United have included a buy-back clause in his Lyon contract, but since moving to France in January he’s failed to cement a place in Bruno Génésio’s side. He has had time to create a rap single with fellow footballer Quincy Promes though, which in a way indicates where his priorities lie, and therefore it wouldn’t be a shock to see him never return.

 

Eric Djemba-Djemba


Who? That was the common trend of questioning when bullish centre-midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba arrived on the English football scene. An “obscene” crunching tackle on Sol Campbell in the 2003/2004 Community Shield certainly marked his arrival. He wasn’t loved by the Manchester United faithful for long though, as it turned out he wasn’t actually very good, and as a result only lasted two years before being sold for £2m less than what he was bought for.

The Cameroon international was supposed to be Roy Keane’s long-term replacement, so there were already big boots to fill, it’s safe to say he failed. Djemba-Djemba has gone on to play in Qatar, Denmark, Israel, Serbia, Scotland, India and most recently Persebaya Surubaya in Indonesia.

 

Bebé

The biggest Manchester United flop of all time is Bebé. The fact Sir Alex Ferguson hadn’t even seen him play before and still spent £7.5m on the player after assistant Carlos Queiroz’ recommendation didn’t exactly destine the move for success. After arriving from Vitória de Guimarães aged 19, Bebé stayed with the Red Devils for four years, however was loaned out for three of them and in the end only made two league appearances.

The now 26-year-old forward has spent the last three seasons in Spain, and was relegated in two of them, scoring an embarrassing total of just eight goals in 81 games for Córdoba, Rayo Vallecano and now Eibar in La Liga. It’s no surprise that Bebé is at the climax of this list, when you think of a failed United signing you think of him, and there’s nil chance that Romelu Lukaku will suffer the same fate.