The Players That Manchester United Should Not Have Sold in the Premier League Era

Manchester United v Derby County - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Manchester United v Derby County - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round / Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

For all the talent that has arrived at Manchester United during the Premier League era, there have been those who have been inexcusably let go by the Red Devils.

While few can argue with the transfer acumen of the great Sir Alex Ferguson, even he dropped the odd clanger on occasion - although maybe he was right about Paul Pogba.

Equally, since Ferguson's heartbreaking retirement, the managers that followed have been no stranger to ushering players out the exit door, for better or for worse.

There are a number of departures who did - and continue to - flourish after leaving Old Trafford, leaving many of us wondering if the right decision to let them go was made. Here, 90min looks at some of the players who should have never have departed...

Paul Ince

Paul Ince
Paul Ince / Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Why He Was Sold: The self-proclaimed 'Guvnor' was a vital cog in United's swashbuckling machine in the early Premier League years, yet he was one of many casualties as Ferguson brought in the famed 'Class of 92'.

What He Did Next: After moving to Inter in 1995, Ince was quickly back in England - only this time with United's bitter rivals Liverpool. While he remained in English football for a while longer, he was never at his pomp again after leaving Old Trafford. Still, you feel that he'd have excelled further had he remained under Sir Alex's leadership.

Who Replaced Him: Although no new arrival arrived to replace the Englishman, it was young Nicky Butt that stepped up from the academy to slot in alongside Roy Keane in central midfield.

Jaap Stam

Jaap Stam
Jaap Stam / Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Why He Was Sold: Only Sir Alex Ferguson knows the answer to this! The Dutchman had been vital to United's treble winning side, yet was deemed surplus to requirements after returning from an achilles injury. Lazio's sizeable bid probably helped him decide, mind you.

What He Did Next: After joining the Italians in 2001, Stam would go on to play for fellow Italian side AC Milan - alongside the likes of Kaka, Seedorf and Pirlo. The fierce defender ended his career at Ajax, six years after leaving Old Trafford.

Who Replaced Him: After believing Stam was past his best, Fergsuon then strangely decided to replace him with 35-year-old Laurent Blanc. The Frenchman didn't exactly set the world alight, but helped United to the league title in 2003.

Gerard Piqué

Manchester United's Spanish defender Ger
Manchester United's Spanish defender Ger / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/Getty Images

Why He Was Sold: The Spanish defender wasn't at his best at Old Trafford, and was seemingly not cut out for the rigours of the Premier League. While it seemed a fair departure at the time, perhaps he could have been given a bit more time given his relatively young age.

What He Did Next: Well, aside from winning absolutely everything at Barcelona since arriving in 2008, he's also won the FIFA World Cup and the European Championship with Spain.

Who Replaced Him: United didn't actively sign a replacement for the Spaniard - he wasn't a regular after all - and the emergence of a young Jonny Evans ended the need for further reinforcements.

Wilfried Zaha

Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League
Manchester United v Newcastle United - Premier League / Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Why He Was Sold: Ferguson's last signing for the club never got a sniff at Old Trafford and after a failed loan spell at Cardiff City, returned to Crystal Palace.

What He Did Next: Since returning to Selhurst Park, the Cote D'Ivoire winger has arguably been the best player outside the top six, despite continued rumours of a move elsewhere. His market value remains high to this day and another big move could beckon.

Who Replaced Him: With David Moyes seemingly not fancying the wide-man, it was young Adnan Januzaj who became the star youngster following Zaha's exit.

Jonny Evans

MK Dons v Manchester United - Capital One Cup Second Round
MK Dons v Manchester United - Capital One Cup Second Round / Clive Mason/Getty Images

Why He Was Sold: Despite being lined up to replace the departing Ferdinand and Vidic, Evans was never truly deemed up to the job by new manager Louis van Gaal - although Phil Jones somehow remains at the club.

What He Did Next: The Northern Irishman joined West Brom in 2015 and has gone on to become one of English football's most reliable centre backs. Evans has impressed greatly at high-flying Leicester, helping the Foxes launch an unlikely tilt at Champions League football.

Who Replaced Him: While the club did not sign a replacement in the summer of 2015, his spot was taken by 2014 arrivals Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind.

Memphis Depay


Why He Was Sold: The Dutch winger arrived to much fanfare, yet after taking on the cursed number seven shirt, really struggled to make an impact - albeit without ever really being given a chance.

What He Did Next: After leaving for Lyon in 2017, Depay has taken his game to another level and has become the star man for both club and country.

Who Replaced Him: The left-wing berth and number seven shirt was passed on to Alexis Sanchez following his arrival, yet he has fared no better than his predecessor.

Daley Blind

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Why He Was Sold: Perhaps the most infuriatingly misused player at Old Trafford in recent years, Blind was deemed the man to fill the void at centre-back - despite United crying out for a man of his ball-playing quality in central-midfield. With Jose Mourinho liking his players to all be 6'2, Blind was never gonna get a look in.

What He Did Next: The Dutchman returned to Ajax in 2018 and played a key role in helping the Dutch giant reach the Champions League semi-finals. Has endured a heart scare since, but fortunately appears to be back at full health.

Who Replaced Him: The arrival of Swedish defender Victor Lindelof in 2017 effectively spelled the end for Blind, while he also struggled to nail down a spot at left-back - despite Luke Shaw's poor form.