“Number 11 is the most unlucky one.”
NBCNEWS – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spent around £400m buying new players during his three years at Manchester United, but how have his players made an impact at Old Trafford?
Solskjaer did not win a trophy at Man United, but he has left several important players in the squad that Jose Mourinho inherited.
We’ve sorted each of his 16 recruits from worst to best. In this list, we only include players who made their senior debut before joining Man United.
#16. Paul McShane
McShane came through the Man United academy, but never made a first-team appearance. He was then sold to West Bromwich Albion in 2006.
After playing for several clubs in the top three divisions of English football, the 35-year-old returned to Old Trafford as a player-coach and has made five appearances for Man United Under-23s.
#15. Nathan Bishop
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Bishop is one of two goalkeepers on this list. He showed his promise at Southend United before being picked up by the Red Devils in January 2020.
The 22-year-old was on the bench for three of Man United’s games and spent the 2021/2022 season on loan at League Two side Mansfield Town.
#14. Tom Heaton
Heaton, who left Man United on a free transfer in 2010, returned to his boyhood club and signed a two-year contract in 2021.
The 35-year-old goalkeeper is behind David de Gea and Dean Henderson in the pecking order and is still awaiting his competitive debut at Man United.
#13. Facundo Pellistri
After Pellistri got a brilliant reference from former Man United striker Diego Forlan, Solskjaer decided to sign him from Uruguayan club Penarol in October 2020.
The 19-year-old winger made several appearances for Man United’s Under-23s before joining Spanish side Alaves on loan in search of regular first-team playing time.
#12. Odion Ighalo
Eyebrows were raised when Man United signed Ighalo on an initial six-month loan deal from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua in January 2020.
The former Watford striker did the job that was asked of him and came close to being a hero at Old Trafford, scoring five goals in 11 games.
The Ighalo was eventually deemed surplus and then sold to LASK.
#11. Donny van de Beek
Having played a key role at Ajax reaching the 2019 Champions League semi-finals, there were high expectations when Van de Beek completed a £36 million move to Man United in 2020.
Despite scoring on his Premier League debut, he failed to earn Solskjaer’s trust and has surprisingly played just 17 games under the Norwegian.
#10. Alex Telles
After four years at Porto, Telles joined Man United in a £13.6 million deal in 2020. He is expected to establish himself as their first-choice left-back.
However, his arrival at Old Trafford sparked a performance boost for Luke Shaw, who is enjoying his best season yet in the 2020/2021 season.
He then struggled for regular chances at Man United, but a Paul Scholes-style goal against Villarreal has seen him move up several places.
#9. Daniel James
James became Solskjaer’s first signing at Man United in the summer of 2019. He joined from Championship side Swansea City in a deal worth 15 million pounds (Rp 258 billion).
The Wales international got off to a brilliant start with three goals in his first four Premier League appearances, but failed to keep up that form.
His speed and work ethic made him a useful player until Man United decided to sell the winger to Leeds for £25 million in 2021.
#8. Amad Diallo
Admittedly, it might be odd to have a player who has made just eight appearances for Man United in eighth place on this list.
However, Amad, who joined Man United for £17 million in January 2021, is considered the next big thing at Old Trafford and his arrival could ultimately be considered one of the biggest successes of the Solskjaer administration.
The 19-year-old opened up his story at Man United with a brilliant goal against AC Milan in March 2021 and has continued to show his worth with United Under-23s.
#7. Aaron Wan-Bissaka
After just one season playing in the full Premier League as Crystal Palace right-back, Wan-Bissaka then completed a £50m move to Man United in 2019.
The 23-year-old has established himself as one of the best one-v-one defenders in the world, producing brilliant performances against the likes of Raheem Sterling and Kylian Mbappe.
But in an era when full-backs are expected to fill the wings and create opportunities for attackers, his offensive play often leaves a lot to be desired.
“I don’t even think Crystal Palace will bring him back,” said former Man United captain Roy Keane in October 2021. “He’s not good enough for Manchester United. No feeling for the ball (or) decision-making.”
#6. Jadon Sancho
During his four years at Borussia Dortmund, Sancho developed into one of the best and most exciting young players in world football.
His form made him a prime target for Solskjaer and Man United, who eventually landed him in a £73 million deal.
The 21-year-old has not yet hit his starting point at Old Trafford, but time is on his side and any new manager would be foolish not to build a team around him.
#5. Raphael Varane
Varane arrived at Man United with some serious controversy after winning three La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues during his 10 years at Real Madrid.
The centre-back, who also won the 2018 World Cup with France, was bought for a bargain fee of just £36 million in the summer of 2021 and received rave reviews at Old Trafford.
His first few months at Man United were plagued by some injury problems, but it still looks like brilliant business.
#4. Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo will probably top this list in the near future, but will have to settle for fourth place at the moment.
The 36-year-old completed a fairy tale by returning to Old Trafford earlier this year and has scored several important goals in his second spell, including dramatic stoppage-time wins against Villarreal and Atalanta in the Champions League group stage.
However, his arrival has coincided with a decline in Man United’s fortunes, and the next manager may need to adapt to accommodate the forward.
#3. Edinson Cavani
Cavani joined Man United as a free agent aged 33 amid doubts from some over whether he could make an impact in the Premier League.
The Uruguay international silenced his critics and quickly became a fan favorite at Old Trafford, scoring 17 goals in 39 appearances across all competitions in his debut season.
He also helped break the curse of the iconic No.7 jersey before handing it to Ronaldo in 2021.
#2. Harry Maguire
After Jose Mourinho tried to sign Maguire from Leicester City in 2018, Solskjaer renewed their interest a year later and Man United completed a deal worth £80 million.
The England international helped shore up their defense and kept a total of 26 clean sheets in the Premier League during his first two seasons at Man United, more than any other outfield player in that period.
An ankle injury at the end of the 2020/2021 season showed his importance to the team as he was sorely missed in the Europa League final defeat to Villarreal.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 26, 2021
#1. Bruno Fernandes
Since joining Man United from Sporting Lisbon in January 2020, Fernandes has had an outstanding record with 44 goals and 33 assists in 97 appearances across all competitions.
If it weren’t for the Portugal international and his transformative impact, Solskjaer might have been sacked earlier than November 2021.