Six January signings which paid off for Manchester United

It’s safe to say that Manchester United have had a very hit and miss track record when it comes to January signings.

The January transfer window is on the horizon and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be targeting improvements to his United side.

The Norwegian will most likely only sign players that fit the ethos and philosophy he is trying to implement at the club.

During Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign there were some appalling signings such as Dong Fangzhou, Rodrigo Possebon and Manucho.

We cannot forget our last January signing, the expensive acquisition of Alexis Sanchez, which has been nothing short of a disaster.

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But here are some players that proved that some January signings can pay off.

Louis Saha

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In Fulham’s promotion campaign to the top-flight in the 2000/01 season, Saha scored 27 goals.

The Frenchman announced himself to the Premier League with 2 goals at Old Trafford on the opening weekend of the season.

In his final season with Fulham he had scored 13 goals in 20 games before Fergie came calling in January 2004.

Saha impressed early, with 7 goals in his first 10 starting appearances, but injuries started to creep in and he constantly found himself on the side-lines and struggling to get up to match fitness.

Six goals in the 2005/06 League Cup run saw him usurp Ruud van Nistelrooy as the first choice strike partner for Wayne Rooney.

Saha was named a starter, over the Dutchman, which didn’t go down well with Van Nistelrooy in the final against Wigan Athletic and scored a goal.

A combination of injuries and competing against a formidable forward line of Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo meant that Saha had to settle for a bit part role.

Saha left for Everton in 2008. He spent time at Spurs and Sunderland before retiring in 2013 following a short loan spell at Lazio.

He played 124 times at Old Trafford, scoring 42 times and registering 19 assists.

Henrik Larsson

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The legendary Swedish striker may have only been a loan signing, but he had a massive impact on the team and it showed how much Fergie valued him that he tried to extend the deal.

Larsson later admitted that he regretted not coming to Old Trafford sooner in his career.

In his two-and-a-half months at the club he conjured up a great understanding with Rooney and Ronaldo in United’s 2007 title success.

He may have only scored 3 goals in 13 games, but United’s dressing room benefited from the professionalism, experience and quality Larsson brought to the side.

Larsson retired from playing in 2013 before going into management. Was the manager of Swedish side Helsingborg up until September this year.

Nemanja Vidic

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What an absolute bargain this man was. The Serbian warrior conjured up a phenomenal partnership with Rio Ferdinand and alongside Patrice Evra and Edwin van der Sar, United had one of the stingiest defences around.

A £7million signing from Spartak Moscow, Vidic relished the physical nature of the Premier League and became the best defender in the world.

United’s former number 15 also had a knack of scoring some bullet headers in big games for Fergie’s team.

In the 2008-09 season, he played a pivotal part in United going on a record run of 14 consecutive games without conceding a goal.

Fans and team mates adored his aggressive, no-nonsense defensive style, he was highly regarded for his on-the-pitch bravery.

Vidic won 15 trophies during his time at Old Trafford, which included a Premier League and Champions League double in the 2007/08 season.

After joining Inter Milan and making 28 appearances, Vidic announced his retirement in January 2016 after having his contract ended by mutual consent.

They don’t make centre-backs like Vidic anymore, he was the ultimate warrior.

Patrice Evra

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Arriving from Monaco for £7.2million, the Frenchman had a nightmare debut in the Manchester Derby after getting the run-around by Trevor Sinclair, he was hauled off at half-time.

Evra regularly alternated between the bench and the starting 11 to close out the campaign and he had to start the new season playing second fiddle to his compatriot Mikael Silvestre.

After scoring his first goal for the club against Everton, the left-back began featuring as a regular in the starting 11.

It was in the 2007/08 season that Evra established himself as the number one left-back at the club, he made 48 matches in all competitions in what was a memorable season for the club.

Evra was a marauding left-back that loved to get forwards and overlap his winger and he delivered some wicked and inviting crosses.

His defensive discipline improved during his time in Manchester and towards the end of his Manchester United career he started to chip in with some headed goals from set pieces.

In 379 appearances, Evra scored 10 goals and registered 40 assists.

It was a mistake from the club allowing Evra to move to Juventus in 2014, he still had so much to offer and would have been the perfect mentor for Luke Shaw.

Evra continued to win trophies with the Italian giants and played in his fifth Champions League final losing to his familiar woes Barcelona, and the defeat meant he became the first player to lose four Champions League finals.

Evra went on to have short spells with Marseille and West Ham United before he officially announced his retirement from football in July.

Evra is currently undertaking his coaching badges at the club and has been spotted helping Neil Ryan with the under-18s team earlier in the season.

Paul Scholes

Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

After announcing his retirement in May 2011, Scholes made a u-turn in January 2012 with United suffering from an injury crisis.

He made his comeback in a 3-2 FA Cup win against Manchester City and he was sporting the number 22 jersey with Ashley Young wearing his number 18 shirt.

It was only a few days earlier that Manchester United had been beaten at home by Blackburn Rovers with a certain Paul Pogba being an unused substitute.

Fergie’s decision to recall Scholes may have played a role in Pogba’s decision to leave for Juventus according to Scholes himself.

Scholes was ever present in the United side upon his return and signed a new one-year deal after Manchester City had snatched the league title away from United in the most dramatic of circumstances.

He marked his 700th appearance for the Red Devils by scoring in a 4–0 win at home to Wigan Athletic. This goal meant that he had scored in his 19th consecutive Premier League season, a feat only surpassed by teammate Ryan Giggs, who holds the record of 21 consecutive seasons.

Scholes’ comeback seemed to inspire his team mates and he brought an element of control and calmness to United’s play, he dictated the tempo of matches with his range of passing in a deep-lying midfield role.

He announced his second and final retirement in May 2013. He made his 499th appearance for United as a substitute in the 5-5 draw against West Bromwich Albion in what was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game as manager of Manchester United.

Juan Mata

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

David Moyes’ second signing, Mata arrived with style in a helicopter in January 2014 to secure a £37.1million deal, which was then a club record deal.

In 230 appearances for United, the Spaniard has scored 45 goals and made 37 assists.

It has been difficult for the former Chelsea man to get a run of games in his favoured number 10 position, but United’s number 8 always gives his all when he is selected.

In five and a half years, Mata has played under Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Mata’s finest hour in a United shirt was the brace he scored to secure a 2-1 win at Anfield in March 2015, one of which was a phenomenal bicycle effort.

The 31-year-old signed a new two-year deal in June, his experience and calming presence will be crucial in mentoring a young dressing room.

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Passionate Football fan that completed a NCTJ-accredited Diploma in Multimedia Sports Journalism in 2016.