Manchester United finally returned to the Champions League last campaign by managing to secure fourth place ahead of Tottenham. Louis van Gaal spent heavily in the previous transfer windows and looked to bolster his squad in order to prepare for Europe’s elite competition.
United have disappointed yet again this season which has led to uncertainty regarding the future of LVG. The Red Devils failed to progress from the group stages of the Champions League in a relatively easy pool of teams. They have also struggled for consistency in the league and have regularly been branded as ‘boring’ this season.
How much have their summer recruits contributed this season?
Anthony Martial – £35m from Monaco
French forward Anthony Martial arrived on Manchester having built a reputation as one of Europe’s most promising talents. For an initial fee of £35m, leaked documents have suggested the deal could potentially rise to upwards of £60m. Nevertheless, the deal made him the most expensive teenager in history.
The 20 year old exploded on to the scene scoring four goals in his first four appearances including a superb solo effort against Liverpool. However, Martial’s form dipped drastically with Van Gaal being targeted as the reason why. The striker has been forced to occupy a wider role under the Dutchman and improve his defensive game.
After such a blistering start, expectations were high and Martial’s poor run of form has been coming as the youngster is not being utilised correctly. If Van Gaal is replaced, Martial should return to the number nine role where he can flourish in United red.
Morgan Schneiderlin – £24m from Southampton
Morgan Schneiderlin arrived on a £24m deal from Southampton tasked with the responsibility of bringing balance to United’s midfield. United needed a holding midfielder who could provide stability in the Red Devils’ engine room.
The Frenchman hasn’t set the world alight since moving to the North West but has proved to be an important player under LVG. Schneiderlin has been rotated this season but United look a much improved side with the 26 year old in the side.
He has provided steel and energy in the midfield allowing United’s creative talent to express themselves. He has shown he is more than worthy of playing for United and could prove to be a vital player in the next few years.
Memphis Depay – £19m from PSV
The signing of Memphis Depay from PSV was a signing of intent to Premier League rivals. The Dutchman has set the Eredivisie alight with PSV earning him a regular role with the Dutch national team; formerly managed by Van Gaal.
The 21 year old has struggled thus far in a United shirt, scoring just four goals. He has struggled to connect with his new team-mates and has not shown his ability often enough. Although it is early days in his career in Manchester, Depay has not looked the same player whose 22 goals led PSV to the title.
Van Gaal has again been criticised and accused of using Depay incorrectly. There is still plenty of time for Depay to prove he can be a vital player for the Red Devils but improvement is needed.
Matteo Darmian – £12m from Torino
Italian full back Matteo Darmian made an excellent start to his United career which led to comparisons to former full-back Gary Neville. Darmian gave the side energy and attacking threat from the right hand side but was defensively strong.
After man of the match performances in his first two appearances, the 25 year old has struggled to re-discover his early season form as injuries has forced the Italian to fill in at left back. He was hauled off at half time against Arsenal as he struggled to cope with the class of Alexis Sanchez.
Nevertheless, Darmian has been one of the better right backs in the league this season and £12m represents good value for money to fill an important position.
Bastian Schweinsteiger – £6m from Bayern Munich
World cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger finally cut his ties with Bayern Munich in the summer and the long serving German completed a £6m move to Old Trafford. Schweinsteiger developed a reputation as one of the world’s best midfielders after leading Munich to numerous trophies during his time in Bavaria.
Schweinsteiger has disappointed so far and has failed to live up to the expectation that surrounded his arrival. Performances have been mixed where the 31 year old has looked a yard off the pace yet other games he has controlled the game from midfield.
Although the deal for the German was a cheap one, Schweinsteiger has not had the desired impact on the United side yet. He was criticised by Van Gaal earlier in the season and needs to start showing that he can become a leader for the Red Devils.
Sergio Romero – Free from Sampdoria
Sergio Romero was signed in the summer from Italian side Sampdoria on a free transfer following the expiration of his contract. The Argentine made 71 league appearances and signed a three year deal at Old Trafford.
Romero was expected to be David de Gea’s understudy with doubt surrounding the future of Spaniard Victor Valdes. However, injuries and transfer speculation with De Gea meant the Argentine started United’s first six games including a vital home game against Tottenham. Romero made a good start and did not concede in his first three games.
With De Gea back between the sticks, Romero has reverted to a backup role following a costly error against Swansea at the end of August. Remains a decent back up option
Follow me on Twitter @MarcusBanks7