Sir Alex Ferguson likes to make statements at Manchester United.
His unprecedented run of success has involved a number of massive signings for the Old Trafford club. On occasion, Ferguson has left the rest of the league in awe by snapping up players from rival teams; prolific youngsters and individuals who would go on to define a generation.
Let's take a chronological look at six players whose signatures acted as a major statement for the world renowned team. Is your favourite signing included?
Read on to find out.
The future of Manchester United changed in November 1992.
One phone call saw the club emerge from the shadows and into the limelight of English football (via The Observer). The Red Devils—who witnessed fierce rivals Leeds United capture the old Division One championship just months before—lured a certain unsettled forward away from Elland Road.
Eric Cantona would go on to significantly alter United's stature in world football, and it wasn't just about his goalscoring prowess.
Although his 82 goals in 185 games brought Sir Alex Ferguson great success—and went a long way to securing his knighthood—Cantona's stature and confidence emanated throughout a squad of youngsters that Alan Hansen believed would never win anything.
As we all know, Manchester United went on to win everything. Cantona delivered the first of his four Premier League titles in the 1992/93 season. He also helped capture two FA Cups and three Charity Shields, although his early retirement saw him miss out on the famous treble season of 1999.
Cantona's arrival provided a statement on a number of levels. Manchester United were not afraid of taking risks, invading rival teams for key players and signing controversial individuals who bring a sense of character to Ferguson's sides. This ethos would be a building step for future success.
His heroics at St. James' Park resulted in a shock move to Old Trafford. Ferguson had plucked another fantastic talent from a rival club, and despite favouring a transfer for Alan Shearer, the acquisition of Cole proved to be a major success.
The arrival of Dwight Yorke in the 1998/99 season helped Cole reach tremendous heights during his Manchester United career. To this day, many United fans would be hard-pushed to outline a more dominant striking duo, especially in terms of delivering success as a partnership.
Cole helped United to five Premier League titles, two FA Cups, two Charity Shields and, of course, the Champions League victory in 1999.
Just as Cantona passed the goalscoring baton towards Cole and Yorke, Ruud van Nistelrooy was brought in as the next key hitman for Ferguson's evolving side.
Van Nistelrooy could have been a United player as early as 2000 (via The Telegraph). Unfortunately, concerns over his fitness proved correct when he was forced to fly home after a failed medical saw the original transfer scuppered. Just days after this, the Dutch striker ruptured ligaments in his knee.
Ferguson didn't give up. Van Nistelrooy's staggering return to fitness saw him break the British transfer fee with a £19 million deal in 2001 (via BBC Sport). Any concerns over the player's long-term fitness soon subsided, as van Nistelrooy went on to define United's success during the early noughties.
The deadly forward played a massive role in clinching a Premier League title, FA Cup, League Cup and Community Shield. Since leaving for Real Madrid in 2006, it's difficult to suggest Manchester United have ever possessed a more clinical finisher in the box.
One club's loss is another club's gain. Terrible financial struggles at Leeds United saw captain Rio Ferdinand become available for transfer in 2002. Sir Alex Ferguson wasted no time luring the former West Ham defender to Old Trafford in a deal worth £29.1 million.
Eleven years later, Ferdinand is gearing up for his Manchester United testimonial (via The Independent). Sure, the 18-month ban for a missed drugs test may have hampered his early days at the club, but Ferdinand's signature has proven to be invaluable over the last decade (via BBC Sport).
As a statement, his transfer doesn't quite compare to that of Cantona. The financial problems at Leeds largely dictated his move, even though Ferguson was in the market for a new centre-back after controversially letting Jaap Stam leave the season before.
Ferdinand's transfer has proven to be one of the most important of recent years for United. His partnership with Nemanja Vidic is often earmarked as the greatest ever, and at the ripe old age of 34, Sir Alex Ferguson believes his form throughout the 2012/13 season has been amongst his best (via BBC Sport).
"Once a blue, always a blue."
Except when he's a red.
Wayne Rooney may have donned the famous blue shirt while at Everton, but before long, his transfer to Manchester United was confirmed (via The Daily Mail). The £25.6 million deal is one of the most important of United's history, as, with the acquisition of Rooney, the Old Trafford crowd had their new talisman.
Rooney has been a constant in the United side for nearly 10 years. Since his memorable goal as an Everton substitute against Arsenal on October 19, 2002, he has also been a major commercial asset for both the Premier League and English football.
The decision to move away from Goodison Park has turned out to be a great one. Rooney has won the Premier League five times, League Cup on two occasions, the Community Shield three times, a single Champions League and a FIFA World Club Championship.
Ferguson's decision to splash so much on a young British talent was a huge statement. United's future was seemingly assured, especially with the emergence of Cristiano Ronaldo alongside Rooney. Despite claims he is off to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, Rooney is one of the most important signings Ferguson has ever produced (via The Guardian).
Sir Alex Ferguson's most recent statement was made via the signing of Robin van Persie. Manchester United lost the Premier League crown to Manchester City in 2011/12, and the Scotsman wasted no time in making sure they got it back.
Van Persie's decision to leave Arsenal indicated he believes they are not a threat to the likes of United, City and Chelsea. The elite of English football rarely sell their star players to one another, so Van Persie's departure from the Emirates provided a massive boost to United's title prospects for the 2012/13 season.
Not only had they nabbed a great player from Arsenal, the Red Devils also stopped City from doing the same. As witnessed throughout the season, Van Persie's impact has been immediate. He currently has 28 goals and eight assists in 42 appearances for the title winners, suggesting his debut campaign has been an absolute success.
Will van Persie keep the trophies rolling in? With his left-foot in the side, you wouldn't bet against it.
Which of Sir Alex Ferguson's signings have made the biggest statement at Manchester United? Let me know in the comments section and be sure to follow me on Twitter:
All statistics in this article are courtesy of Whoscored.