MANCHESTER UNITED sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a then-world-record £80million in the summer of 2009.
The Red Devils reinvested that money on NINE (and-a-half) players as they rebuilt without the Portuguese superstar.
But the jury’s still out as to whether the monster sum of cash was well spent.
There were some big hits and some even bigger misses.
Check out the £80m-worth of talent meant to fill the Ronaldo-shaped void, below…
ANTONIO VALENCIA – £18m
A FLYING winger at Wigan, Valencia was expected to be a like-for-like replacement for Ronaldo – without the prolific eye for goal.
And while he ultimately was molded into a right-back – contrary to the original plan – the Ecuadorian was an undoubted hit at Old Trafford.
Valencia played well over 300 times for United and even enjoyed a spell as club captain before leaving in 2019.
Total spent: £18m
MICHAEL OWEN – Free
TO compensate for losing Ronaldo’s goals, Sir Alex Ferguson brought in Owen on a free from Newcastle – and even gave him the Portugal ace’s No7 jersey.
A controversial signing given his Liverpool roots, Owen – still only 29 at the time – was expected to bang in a few goals off the bench.
The ex-England star will always have a place in United fans’ hearts after his dramatic, last-gasp winner in a 4-3 epic against Manchester City.
But Owen managed just three goals for the Red Devils that season and joined Stoke in 2012 with just five Premier League strikes to his name.
Total spent: £18m
GABRIEL OBERTAN – £3.6m
CHEAP? Yes. High potential? Apparently? Ability. Err, not really.
Fergie hyped up the Frenchman after signing the ‘exciting prospect’ for less than £4m from Bordeaux – saying he’s been tracking him ‘for a few years’.
Obertan struggled with injuries – and form – before being sold to Newcastle after two dreadful seasons.
The French flop later played for Anzhi Makhachkala, Wigan and Levski Sofia.
Obertan now turns out for Turkish second tier side Erzurumpspor.
Since 2009, when he joined United, Obertan has mustered just 13 league goals… in 12 years.
Total spent: £21.6m
MAME BIRAM DIOUF – £4.1m
DIOUF was United’s fourth and final buy of the 2009 window as Fergie signed a number of attackers to fill the Ronaldo void.
After a loan stint back at Molde – from whom United signed him – Diouf returned and swiftly took Carlos Tevez’s No32 jersey.
But the Senegalese forward failed to impress with just ONE goal in five games and was sold to Hannover in the winter of 2012, before heading back to England in 2014 to spend six years at Stoke.
Diouf now plays for Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor.
Total spent: £25.7m
BEBE – £7.9m
FERGUSON admitted he’d never seen Bebe play.. that should have been the first red flag.
Bebe played just twice for United – both in his debut 2010-11 season – and was loaned out three times before selling him in 2014.
The ex-Portugal Under-21 international is currently set to play in LaLiga in 2021-22 after Rayo Vallecano – where’s he been since 2017 – were promoted last term.
Still only 31, Bebe scored six times in 26 Segunda Division games en route to promotion last term.
But for Bebe, unfortunately he will be forever remembered as a club flop in the same league as Eric Djemba-Djemba and Kleberson.
Total spent: £33.6m
CHRIS SMALLING – £7.2m
AFTER a meteoric rise from Maidstone United to Fulham, United signed Smalling in 2010 after two years in West London.
While never a Nemanja Vidic or Rio Ferdinand, the ex-England ace was a solid player for United for Fergie and later David Moyes, Louis van Gaal – who famously once called him ‘Mike’ – and Jose Mourinho.
Smalling played over 300 times for United and earned all of his 31 international caps while at Old Trafford.
The defender thrived on loan at Roma in 2019-20, before joining permanently last summer for a tidy profit – selling him for £18.1m.
Total spent: £40.8m
JAVIER HERNANDEZ – £6.8m
AFTER 13 years at Mexican side Guadalajara, United signed Hernandez for a bargain in 2010.
He scored 59 times in 152 games in his first four seasons, before being loaned to Real Madrid in 2014 and then sold to Bayer Leverkusen in 2015.
Hernandez laster enjoyed just over two seasons at West Ham, before joining Sevilla – and now plays for MLS side LA Galaxy.
Total spent: £47.6m
ANDERS LINDEGAARD – £4.5m
BOUGHT from Norwegian side Aalesund in the winter window of 2010-11, Lindegaard played third fiddle to Edwin van der Sar and Tomasz Kuszczak.
His cause wasn’t helped much by the arrival of David de Gea the following year.
In all, the five-cap Denmark international played just 19 Premier League games in five seasons before being sold to West Brom.
Lindegaard later played for Preston and Burnley before joining Helsingborg, where he still plays aged 37.
Total spent: £52.1m
ASHLEY YOUNG – £17m
AFTER four years apiece in the first-teams of Watford and Aston Villa, United signed Young at the peak of his powers in the summer of 2011.
Pacey and a real threat from dead-ball situations at Villa Park, United fans hoped he would be the closest thing to Ronaldo they’d seen since his exit.
But, much like Valencia, the rapid winger was later pushed back to full-back by Old Trafford bosses.
Young played nearly 200 Premier League games across eight-and-a-half seasons before joining Inter Milan – initially on loan and then permanently.
The 39-cap England star rejoined Villa earlier this summer.
Total spent: £69.1m
…AND HALF OF DAVID DE GEA
WITH £10.9m left in the Ronaldo budget two years after his departure, United splashed £22.5m on a young Spanish stopper named De Gea from Atletico Madrid.
We think it’s fair we credit the club with using their remaining Ronaldo cash on the goalkeeper.
De Gea, of course, has been incredible for Man Utd despite a slight wobble in recent seasons… and a shaky start which included a series of high-profile blunders and being accused of stealing a doughnut from a Tesco store.
The Spaniard won United’s Player of the Year award THREE times during their toughest era in recent memory and will go down as one of their best-value signings ever.
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