The Best Premier League Transfers ever: Edwin van der Sar to Man Utd (2005/06)

Stefan Bienkowski
Stefan Bienkowski Updated: 19 May 2021 15:43 BST 5 min read
The Best Premier League Transfers ever: Edwin van der Sar to Man Utd (2005/06)

Sir Alex Ferguson made a number of big-money transfers during his remarkable tenure as Manchester United manager but some of his most successful were the discrete deals that raised very few eyebrows at the time. 

One of the best examples of such dealings is Edwin van der Sar’s transfer from Fulham to Man United in 2005. Despite involving a nominal fee for a player from a club often dogged with relegation scraps, the Dutch shot-stopper not only proved his worth at Old Trafford but left a legacy as one of the best goalkeepers to ever grace the English giants and the Premier League

This article is part of FootballTransfers’ greatest-ever Premier League deals. We have selected just one standout transfer from every season of the Premier League, including two honourable mentions. This list will then be gathered to provide a definitive list of the best pieces of business in the Premier League era.

Edwin van der Sar, Fulham to Manchester United, £2m

Having spent 11 years at Ajax and Juventus, Van der Sar was no stranger to high-pressure environments such as the one at Old Trafford under Ferguson, and before long he quickly began to show his worth as a player that could not only match his teammates in quality but also command respect as a natural leader.  

Although the shot-stopper won a League Cup in his first season with the club, it was in his second season that English football really saw how vital he would go on to be in future United title challenges. In May 2007 he saved a penalty from Darius Vassell, ensuring a 1-0 win in the Manchester Derby and all but confirming a ninth Premier League title for the club.

He was even better in the following season, when United picked up a second consecutive league title after conceding just 22 goals. If that wasn’t enough, the Dutch keeper also came to the rescue in the Champions League final, when he saved the final penalty of the shoot-out against Chelsea’s Nicolas Anelka.

In six seasons with United, Van der Sar won four Premier League titles and a League Cup. He was also awarded the Premier League Golden Glove in 08/09, made the Premier League Team of the Year on three occasions and the FIFA FIFPro World XI for six, consecutive years. 

Although that was the only European title Van der Sar won with United, he did help the club to another final in 2011 when his team lost 3-1 to Barcelona in what would be his final game for the English club as the oldest male player to feature in a European Cup final in the Champions League era. 

The Best Premier League Transfers ever: Edwin van der Sar to Man Utd (2005/06)

The Best Premier League Transfers ever: Edwin van der Sar to Man Utd (2005/06)

Replacing the irreplaceable 

Alongside his impressive trophy haul with United, Van der Sar is also best remembered as the club’s best goalkeeper since Peter Schmeichel left the club in 1999.

What made the Dutch keeper so fantastic was his ability to launch off his line to intercept counter attacks, his excellent reflex saves against shots and an almost signature ability to outjump all others to claim crosses and corners. 

This was coupled with an innate confidence and calm composure that had been sorely missing in Van der Sar’s predecessors and what made him a match-winner for United and undoubtedly one of their most important players in Ferguson’s final years at the club.

Major trophies 6

Runner-Up: Nemanja Vidic, Spartak Moscow to Man United, £7m

Plucked from relative obscurity for very little money in 2005, Nemanja Vidic very quickly proved his worth as one of the very best non-nonsense central defenders in the European game. His direct, physical approach to the game complimented the more technically gifted Rio Ferdinand perfectly and both players built a defensive partnership that was rarely rivalled across the continent. As was shown from his five Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy in 2008. 

Runner-Up: Patrice Evra, Monaco to Man United, £5.5m

After opting for a move to Man United over Internazionale in 2005, Patrice Evra arrived alongside Van der Sar and Vidic as yet another example of some excellent business in the transfer window. In eight years at Old Trafford the French full-back won five league titles, three League Cups and a Champions League, along with setting a new standard for modern full-backs in the Premier League era. 

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