Wed. Sep 30th, 2020

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Manchester United’s greatest Dutch signings ranked

6 min read

Manchester United are on the verge of completing their first signing of the summer window.

Donny van de Beek is expected to complete a £40.1million move to Old Trafford this week after the Ajax midfielder passed a medical on Monday.

Van de Beek will become the latest Dutchman to pull on the famous red shirt, following in the footsteps of some United greats and some others who didn’t do quite as well.

We’ve ranked every player from the Netherlands to represent United.

12. Tahith Chong

Chong will hope to climb up this list in the coming years, but we simply haven’t seen enough of him just yet.

The 20-year-old winger, who was born in the Dutch Antilles, has played just 16 games for United in all competitions.

Chong has shown flashes of quality in that time but it remains to be seen whether he’ll become a key player for the first team. 

Chong will spend the 2020/21 campaign on loan at Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga.

11. Alexander Buttner

Alexander Buttner during his Manchester United days

 

Alex Ferguson hoped Buttner would be a long-term successor to Patrice Evra at left-back, but he proved to be nothing of the sort.

The ex-Vitesse man scooped a Premier League winner’s medal in 2012/13 and even scored two goals in his five top-flight outings.

But Buttner simply wasn’t of the required standard and it was no surprise when United let him go in 2014.

He’s now plying his trade with New England Revolution in MLS, which proves he was never quite good enough for the Reds.

10. Memphis Depay

A signing that promised a lot but delivered little. United bought a talented young player when they paid £25m for Depay in 2015, and the forward arrived in Manchester on the back of a 28-goal season at PSV.

But Depay failed to make an impression at Old Trafford. He scored just seven goals in 45 games under countryman Louis van Gaal in 2015/16, and was then sold to Lyon by Jose Mourinho.

Memphis Depay joined Lyon from Manchester United in 2017
Memphis Depay joined Lyon from Manchester United in 2017

Depay has rebuilt his reputation in France but United fans have precious few positive memories of his time at the club. Given the expectation surrounding him, Depay was United’s most disappointing Dutchman.

9. Timothy Fosu-Mensah

Fosu-Mensah is entering make-or-break territory as far as his United career is concerned.

The defender joined the club in 2014 and was promoted to the first-team squad by Van Gaal two years later.

He played an understudy role early on, then embarked on season-long loan spells with Crystal Palace and Fulham.

Fosu-Mensah was back at United last term but featured only sporadically. Now 22, the Dutchman needs to kick on sooner rather than later.

8. Jordi Cruyff

Cruyff celebrates scoring for Manchester United

A decent enough back-up option, Cruyff wasn’t in the same class as his father.

He spent four years on United’s books and was part of the Treble-winning squad of 1998/99, playing 11 times that term.

Hopes were high when United signed him from Barcelona, but it was always going to be difficult to displace any of the side’s world-class midfielders.

Cruyff gets some credit for being part of trophy-winning teams, but his four-year spell was largely forgettable.

7. Raimond van der Gouw

Brought in as an understudy to Peter Schmeichel in 1996, Van der Gouw went on to enjoy a surprisingly lengthy career at Old Trafford.

Never one to kick up a fuss about a lack of game time, the goalkeeper only played 12 league games in his first three seasons.

He was more involved following Schmeichel’s departure, though, appearing in 14 matches to earn a Premier League winner’s medal in 1999/00.

Generally reliable, Van der Gouw was respected by Ferguson and put his experience to good use in the dressing room.

6. Arnold Muhren

Muhren was past his best by the time he pitched up at Old Trafford in 1982, but his arrival still generated significant excitement.

The former Ajax midfielder had helped Ipswich Town win the UEFA Cup a year earlier, so he was already acclimatised to the English game.

Even so, foreign players were much rarer in those days, hence the considerable buzz around his signing.

Arnold Muhren

Muhren was part of the team that won the FA Cup under Ron Atkinson in 1983. In total he made 98 appearances for the club, scoring 18 goals.

5. Daley Blind

A versatile and reliable performer, Blind is exactly the type of player Ferguson loved to have in his squad.

The defender-cum-midfielder didn’t actually play under the Scot, arriving instead as one of Van Gaal’s first signings in 2014.

Blind played 141 games for United, initially remaining an important member of the squad under Jose Mourinho.

He helped the Reds win the Europa League in 2017, before returning to Ajax a year later.

4. Jaap Stam

Ferguson didn’t make many mistakes as United boss. But he’s since admitted that selling Stam in 2001 is among his biggest regrets.

The tough-tackling centre-back was a key player for the Reds during his three years at the club.

He played 51 times as United swept all before them in three competitions in 1998/99 – not a bad debut season for the Dutch hardman.

Despite his relatively short stay in England, Stam is widely regarded as one of the best centre-halves of the Premier League era.

3. Robin van Persie

After Van Persie scored 30 Premier League goals for Arsenal in 2011/12, Ferguson knew he was exactly what United needed.

Demonstrating the decisive streak that characterised his 27-year tenure, Ferguson moved quickly to sign the striker for £22.5m.

That proved to be a bargain. Van Persie plundered 26 goals to lead United to the title in 2012/13, which proved to be Ferguson’s last season before retirement.

The striker struggled with injuries over the next two campaigns, but his goals-per-game record remained excellent: he departed United in 2015 with an average of 0.55 per match over a three-year spell.

2. Ruud van Nistelrooy

 

Van Nistelrooy’s numbers were even better than Van Persie’s. In 219 appearances, the former PSV marksman struck 150 goals – an average of 0.68 per game.

Van Nistelrooy was perhaps the most prolific finisher the Premier League has ever seen. He reigned supreme inside the penalty area, and his predatory instincts were on display throughout his five-year stay at Old Trafford.

The only thing that counts against Van Nistelrooy is the relative lack of collective success during his time at the club.

The Dutchman only won one Premier League title with United, and his departure in 2006 allowed Ferguson to build the team around Cristiano Ronaldo to great effect.

1. Edwin van der Sar

It took a while for United to find a worthy successor to Peter Schmeichel. Six years on from the Great Dane’s departure, they finally managed it by recruiting Fulham’s No.1.

Edwin van der Sar kisses the Champions League trophy.

With all due respect to the west Londoners, it’s still puzzling that Van der Sar ended up at Craven Cottage in the first place.

Signed for just £1.5m, the goalkeeper was one of the best bargain buys of Ferguson’s career. A solid shot-stopper who was also excellent in possession, Van der Sar was a reassuring presence between the sticks.

The last line of defence behind Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, he kept a Premier League-record 14 clean sheets in 2008/09.

More importantly, Van der Sar won four Premier League titles and the Champions League at Old Trafford, making him the club’s greatest ever Dutchman.

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