Man Utd's 10 biggest sales of all time

Carlo Garganese
Carlo Garganese
  • 15 Feb 2024 20:36 GMT
  • 6 min read
Cristiano Ronaldo, Man Utd, 2022/23
© ProShots

Manchester United are arguably the biggest club in world football and have spent accordingly.

The Red Devils have consistently been among the top spenders in the transfer market, signing the likes of Antony, Paul Pogba, Jadon Sancho and Rasmus Hojlund for huge fees in recent years.

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With that, United have also been able to sell players for significant amounts, but it hasn't been their great strength in comparison to their Premier League rivals.

Below, FootballTransfers lists Man Utd's 10 most expensive sales of all time.

10. Danny Welbeck - €20m (Arsenal, 2014)

After coming through Man Utd's famed academy, Danny Welbeck emerged onto the senior stage and made 142 appearances for the Red Devils, but his tally of just 29 goals during that time led to his departure in 2014.

Arsene Wenger identified the Man Utd star as a key transfer target and he made a €20m to north London to end a 13-year association with his boyhood club.

Welbeck left the Gunners in 2019 to join Watford, before signing for Brighton on a free transfer one year later.

Danny Welbeck (left) with Rio Ferdinand (right) at Man Utd
© ProShots - Danny Welbeck (left) with Rio Ferdinand (right) at Man Utd

9. Juan Sebastian Veron - €21.5m (to Chelsea, 2003)

Juan Sebastian Veron was seen as one of the world's best midfielders when he left Lazio for Man Utd, but things didn't quite work out at Old Trafford and after two years, the Red Devils sold him for half the fee they had paid in 2001.

The Argentine football legend join Chelsea, but his time at Stamford Bridge was even more of a disaster and he left the club permanently in 2006 having made just 14 appearances for the Blues.

8. Morgan Schneiderlin - €23m (to Everton, 2017)

Morgan Schneiderlin was excellent at Southampton, but his form upon leaving St Mary's wasn't quite up to the level expected by Man Utd.

Therefore, it's little surprise that he spent just two years at Old Trafford before leaving for €23m in 2017. He made just 47 appearances for Man Utd before he left the club for Everton.

7. Jaap Stam - €25.8m (to Lazio, 2001)

Sir Alex Ferguson later admitted that one of his biggest regrets as Man Utd manager was agreeing to sell Jaap Stam to Lazio in 2001.

Jaap Stam
© ProShots - Jaap Stam

The big Dutchman was one of the best centre-backs in the world at the time, but the pair fell out over comments made in Stam's autobiography.

That dispute allowed Lazio to sign the defender for just €25.8m, which was an absolute steal for a player with his quality.

6. Daniel James - €29.1m (to Leeds, 2021)

Daniel James signed for the Red Devils from Swansea in the summer of 2019 for a fee of €17.8m.

However, despite being one of the fastest players in the Premier League, the Welsh winger never really flourished at Old Trafford.

He scored just six Premier League goals in two seasons before United sold him to Leeds for an impressive profit given the fact he had never really proven himself to be English top flight quality.

Dan James at Man Utd
© ProShots - Dan James at Man Utd

5. Henrikh Mkhitaryan - €34m (to Arsenal, 2018)

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was involved in a strange swap deal with Alexis Sanchez in 2018, with the Chilean moving to Man Utd and Mkhitaryan joining Arsenal.

The move didn't work out for either party and Mkhitaryan left the Emirates Stadium in 2020 to join Roma on a free transfer. The Armenian scored nine goals and provided 13 assists in 59 Arsenal games.

4. David Beckham - €37.5m (to Real Madrid, 2003)

David Beckham was already a global superstar when Real Madrid decided to make him their next Galactico with a €37.5m purchase in 2003.

The England star had already achieved everything possible with Man Utd, including a continental treble in 1999, and as his relationship with Ferguson soured, a departure seemed increasingly likely.

David Beckham
© ProShots - David Beckham

He very nearly joined Barcelona that summer before they opted to sign Ronaldinho instead, and Beckham made his way to the Santiago Bernabeu.

3. Angel Di Maria - €63m (to PSG, 2015)

On the face of it, Man Utd's signing of Angel Di Maria in the summer of 2014 made perfect sense. He was their record transfer at the time, at €75m, having just helped Real Madrid to the Champions League with a Man of the Match performance in the final.

However, there were similar issues to Juan Sebastian Veron in that he struggled to adapt to his surroundings, and his house being burgled certainly didn’t help Di Maria settle.

But if Louis van Gaal expected Di Maria to lead the team into a new era, he signed the wrong player. Having played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, he impressed away from the limelight and struggled with the pressure of being the club’s main man.

He was sold to Paris-Saint Germain after one season.

2. Romelu Lukaku - €74m (to Inter, 2019)

Few at Man Utd would admit it, including then-manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but the decision to sell Romelu Lukaku at a loss to Inter was probably a poor one.

The Belgian went on to take Serie A by storm and was key in Inter halting Juventus' decade-long dominance of Italian football by helping the Nerazzurri win the 2020-21 Scudetto.

Romelu Lukaku in action for Belgium
© ProShots - Romelu Lukaku in action for Belgium

Under the correct management, Lukaku could have found his best form at Old Trafford instead of in Italy. He returned to Chelsea before they loaned him to Inter and Roma.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo - €94m (to Real Madrid, 2009)

It seems difficult to fathom somebody outgrowing United, especially in the club's Ferguson-led heyday, but that was Cristiano Ronaldo's situation in 2009 when he left the Red Devils in a world record transfer to join Real Madrid.

He was already a Ballon d'Or winner by the time he arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu, but he continued to get better, leaving goalscoring records in his wake.

Ronaldo is Real's greatest ever goal-scorer, both in La Liga and the Champions League, and will go down as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.

He moved on to Juventus in 2018 before clinching a sensational return to Man Utd in the summer of 2021. However, he departed for free midway through the 2022-23 season.

The 10 biggest Man Utd sales of all time

1. Cristiano RonaldoReal Madrid€94m2009
2. Romelu LukakuInter€74m2019
3. Angel Di MariaPSG€63m2015
4. David BeckhamReal Madrid€37.5m2003
5. Henrikh MkhitaryanArsenal€34m2018
6. Daniel JamesLeeds€29.1m2021
7. Jaap StamLazio€25.8m2001
8. Morgan SchneiderlinEverton€23m2017
9. Juan Sebastian VeronChelsea€21.5m2003
10. Danny WelbeckArsenal€20m2014

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