Manchester United's 5 Biggest Transfer Failures of All Time

Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

Manchester United's 5 Biggest Transfer Failures of All Time

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    The transfer window and Manchester United go together like peas in a pod, with the Premier League giant being linked with almost every top player on the planet.

    Over many years, United have brought an array of talent to Old Trafford with varying success.

    The club are currently in the motion of a rebuilding programme under Louis van Gaal and will be looking for their next success story after last year's horrendous performance under David Moyes.

    Here we take a look at five of the team's biggest transfer failures over the years.

Owen Hargreaves

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    As Owen Hargreaves trudged off the pitch injured against Wolverhampton Wanderers, most Manchester United fans watching knew it was the end of his sorry tale at Old Trafford.

    When he was purchased from Bayern Munich in 2007 to be the Red Devils' midfield enforcer, there was no doubt he was the right man in world football for the job.

    Hargreaves was a Bryan Robson-like hybrid with the brain of a continental footballer.

    His £18 million transfer from the Bundesliga, per Tim Rich of The Guardian, was one of the most protracted in United's history—but Sir Alex Ferguson was determined to get the England international.

    In his one full season in a United shirt, Hargreaves helped guide the Red Devils to Champions League glory in Moscow. However, he will always be remembered as an expensive mistake by many.

    His knees gave out just when it seemed he could become a modern-day warrior for the Reds.

    At only 33 years old, Hargreaves could still have been the player bossing United's midfield today. 

Mark Bosnich

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    Mark Bosnich's return to Manchester United in 1999 was supposed to be something of a homecoming.

    The Australian international was brought back to Old Trafford after his stint as a youth team player, and he was expected to fill the gloves of treble-winning legend Peter Schmeichel.

    Bosnich had spent several seasons as Aston Villa's No. 1 and seemed the perfect replacement for the Great Dane, but the goalkeeper never lived up to his billing and had continual problems with his weight.

    Fergie summed him up in one sentence in his autobiography, per Joe Ridge and Ian Ladyman of the Daily Mail: "Mark Bosnich was a terrible professional."

    After Fabien Barthez's arrival at United a year later, Bosnich was never picked for the first team again. He soon made his way out the door to Chelsea on a free transfer. 

Anderson

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    Manchester United fans thought they were signing one of the biggest young talents in world football when the club purchased Anderson from Porto.

    The Brazilian teenager cost the Red Devils £25 million, per David McDonnell of the Mirror, but it was felt that United had made the outlay on a player who would become one of the best in the game.

    The 2014-15 season will represent Anderson's eighth year as a United player, but despite a trophy cabinet full of medals, he has been a complete and utter failure in that time.

    He has had terrible luck with injury but also never developed into the talent people thought he would.

    Some of the blame must lie at Sir Alex Ferguson's door. He bought the attack-minded midfielder and tried making him into a jack of all trades.

    The plan did not work, and Anderson has suffered ever since.

    His future surely lies away from Old Trafford now unless Louis van Gaal can resurrect his career. 

Bebe

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    When Manchester United signed Tiago Manuel Dias Correia from the Portuguese lower divisions in a multi-million pound deal, the football world rightfully turned around and said "Who?"

    Bebe arrived at Old Trafford for £7.4 million, per Daniel Taylor of The Guardian, on the recommendation of Carlos Queiroz.

    To this day, nobody is quite sure why.

    The player has spent most of his United career in the reserves and out on loan but has now returned to the north west to try to convince Louis van Gaal that he is a good footballer.

    Bebe said recently, per Omar Hamouda of Squawka: “As yet I’ve been unable to show my full potential because a player’s career is made of moments, but I think it’s my time, my time is coming.”

    If Bebe's time does come, it would be one of the biggest surprises in Red Devils history.

Juan Sebastian Veron

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    When Juan Sebastian Veron signed for Manchester United in 2001, it was a statement of intent by the club.

    With the team's first European Cup victory since 1968 still fresh in everyone's minds, this was Sir Alex Ferguson's first attempt at buying truly recognised world-class talent.

    United paid £28.1 million for the Argentina captain, per BBC Sport, who was arguably the best midfielder on the planet at the time.

    Parallels can be drawn between him and current United target Arturo Vidal in terms of reputation and admiration.

    However, Veron was the right player for United, at the wrong time.

    He arrived at Old Trafford during a period of midfield supremacy for the Red Devils, and he was in direct competition with Roy Keane—a battle he was never going to win.

    Fergie tried to play Veron everywhere—from defensive midfield to behind the striker—but nothing seemed to bring out his best.

    If the Red Devils could have had Seba a decade later, he would have ran the show and become a United legend.

    Just two years after breaking the club's record transfer fee, the Little Witch was on his way out of Old Trafford.