Louis van Gaal’s time at Old Trafford came to an end almost four years ago.
During his time at Old Trafford, the Dutchman oversaw a return to the Champions League in his first season only for United to go out in the group stages the following year. He did end the 2015-16 season on a high, though, winning the FA Cup before being replaced by Jose Mourinho two days later.
Van Gaal’s United tenure saw a mass exodus of players over the course of his two campaigns in charge as a total of 26 (yes, 26) players were allowed to leave the club under his stewardship.
Here’s a look at each of them and where they are now…
Angel Di Maria – Signed by Van Gaal for a British record £59.7m and sold a year later to PSG for £44.3m, the Argentine seems more comfortable in a less pressurised environment. During his time in Paris, he’s won three Ligue 1 titles, three Coupe De Frances and three Coupe de la Ligues.
Danny Welbeck – An academy graduate that originally showed such promise, Welbeck was offloaded to Arsenal to make room for Radamel Falcao in Van Gaal’s first transfer window. Despite arriving for £16m, Welbeck struggled at the Emirates – largely due to a series of serious injuries. He was released by Arsenal at the end of last season and is now at Watford.
Javier Hernandez – Javier Hernandez was a fans’ favourite at United but struggled after Sir Alex Ferguson retired and was told by Van Gaal he only had a ‘one percent chance of playing’. After a loan spell at Real Madrid, Hernandez left United permanently for Bayer Leverkusen where he continued his goalscoring exploits. Now at LA Galaxy after spells at West Ham and Sevilla.
Jonny Evans – After nine years at United, academy graduate Evans left for West Brom as Van Gaal couldn’t promise him game time. This move proved a success for the Northern Ireland international as he quickly became one of the Baggies’ stand-out stars and took over as captain from fellow ex-Red Darren Fletcher when the Scot left the club. Evans’ fine form was rewarded as Leicester snapped him up for a measly £3m after West Brom were relegated in 2018.
Shinji Kagawa – Kagawa was hyped when he joined United in 2012 after two impressive years at Borussia Dortmund. However, he struggled in Manchester and was sold back to Dortmund in 2014. He’s never replicated the form that earned him a move to United and is now in Spain with Real Zaragoza.
Robin van Persie – The Dutchman came to United to achieve something he never managed at Arsenal – win a league title. And he didn’t have to wait long as the club claimed the Premier League in his first year at the club. Eighty-six appearances and 48 league goals later, Van Persie was sold to Fenerbahce, along with Nani, as Van Gaal brought in Anthony Martial. Van Persie is now retired after finishing his career at boyhood club Feyenoord.
Nani – Once pronounced as Cristiano Ronaldo’s heir, Nani forgivably never managed to fill Ronaldo’s boots but enjoyed a decent career at Old Trafford. Was sold by Van Gaal to Fenerbahce and later accused the Dutchman of treating players ‘like kids’. Since had spells at Valencia, Lazio and boyhood club Sporting Lisbon. Now playing for Orlando City in the MLS.
Alexander Buttner – After two unfulfilling years at United, Buttner was shipped off to Dynamo Moscow, citing a lack of playing time and personal differences with Van Gaal as reasons for leaving. Now in the MLS with New England Revolution.
Wilfried Zaha – Promised so much on his arrival to Manchester but was never given the opportunity to prove himself. Moved back to Palace after two years and three loan spells and is now fulfilling the potential he originally showed that convinced United to sign him. Been linked with moves to a host of top six clubs including United.
Rafael – Spent seven years at the club but never managed to cement a permanent place in the United side and was subsequently sold to Lyon, where he remains.
Bebe – His sale brought an end to four years of misery in the north west and truly one of the club’s oddest transfers. Never even showed a glimpse of the potential he supposedly came to the club with. Was sold to Benfica where he made one appearance in two years, and was loaned out to Cordoba and Rayo Vallecano. Then joined Eibar and spent two years there before eventually returning to Rayo Vallecano on loan and then permanently.
Michael Keane – Made only one appearance at United before being sold to Burnley in the winter transfer window after a successful loan spell at Turf Moor. Enjoyed two years of success at the club and became an England international, before being sold to Everton for £25m.
Patrice Evra – Van Gaal ended Evra’s eight-year career at Old Trafford when he sold the Frenchman to Serie A champions Juventus in 2014. He spent three years in Italy before joining Marseille and then West Ham a year later. Officially retired last year.
Angelo Henriquez – Failed to make a single appearance at United before being sold to Dinamo Zagreb after a successful loan spell. Now at boyhood club Universidad de Chile after spending a year at Atlas.
Reece James – Another player who failed to make a single appearance at the club. Joined Wigan after leaving United but is now at Doncaster after a spell at Sunderland.
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Nemanja Vidic – Joined Inter on a free transfer after his contract expired and retired 18 months after moving to Italy.
Rio Ferdinand – Spent a year at QPR after being released on a free, before retiring after their relegation. Now a BT Sport pundit.
Darren Fletcher – Joined West Brom at the end of his contract and spent two years captaining the Baggies before joining Stoke, also on a free. Thirty-six years old now and without a club but is yet to formally announce his retirement.
Anderson – After his release, played for Internacional in Brazil for three years, including a loan at Coritiba. Retired last year aged just 31.
Anders Lindegaard – Snapped up by West Brom after his release but failed to make an appearance at the club. Was then loaned to Preston North End, who he joined permanently, before moving to Burnley after a year. Lindegaard joined Swedish club Helsingborg last year.
Tom Cleverley – Joined Everton at the end of his contract in a search of first-team football. Now at Watford.
Federico Macheda – Currently at Panathinaikos after spells at Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest and Novara.
Ben Amos – Now at Charlton after spells at Bolton, Cardiff City, Charlton Athletic and Millwall.
Tom Thorpe – Without a club after spells with Rotherham, Bradford, Bolton and ATK.
Davide Petrucci – Back in Italy with Ascoli after spells at CFR Cluj and Çaykur Rizespor.
Vanja Milinković-Savić – Currently on loan at Standard Liege from Torino.