As Alexis Sanchez leaves Manchester United for Inter, we look at where he stands among the South Americans to play for the Red Devils.
Alexis Sanchez will attempt to put a forgettable start to his Manchester United spell behind him after joining Inter on loan.
The Chile forward just never managed to find form and fitness after leaving Arsenal and has gone to Italy in a bid to revitalise his career.
It’s safe to say United have not had a particularly good record when it comes to getting the best out of South American stars – although there have been a few exceptions.
Below, we rank the players from that continent to turn out for the Red Devils in competitive matches…
18. Rodrigo Possebon (2008-10)
Possebon squeaks onto this list as a Brazil-born player, even though he represented Italy at youth level.
Signed by United from Internacional in 2008, he mustered three league appearances before a fruitless loan to Braga and then a return to Brazil. He last played for Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
17. Radamel Falcao (2014-15)
Falcao, the man who tore through defences for fun with Porto, Atletico Madrid and Monaco, looked as though he had practically forgotten how to play football when he pulled on the red shirt at United, even if he did manage four goals in 26 Premier League appearances.
Just to rub it in, he returned to Monaco in 2016 and promptly became brilliant again.
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 24, 2018
A World Cup winner snapped up for approximately £6.5million – what could possibly go wrong? Pretty much everything, it turns out.
Kleberson played 20 league games between 2003 and 2005 before being shipped out to Besiktas.
15. Guillermo Varela (2013-17)
Becoming David Moyes’ first signing was probably never going to work out for the best.
Varela spent four years at United, two of which saw him leave on loan, before he went to Penarol to get his career back up and running. He now plays for Copenhagen.
14. Fred (2018-)
Like Sanchez, Fred was said to be a man coveted by Manchester City only for United and Jose Mourinho to get in the way. Like Sanchez, the £47m midfielder has proved to be a redundant presence in the squad, apparently not valued by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Unlike Sanchez, it looks as though Fred will get longer to prove his worth to the manager.
— Fred Rodrigues (@Fred08oficial) March 7, 2019
He had some moments – the winner in the comeback against Newcastle United, the FA Cup strike against old club Arsenal – but they have not exactly justified the reported basic wage of £300,000 per week.
Sanchez will hope to rekindle his career alongside good friend Romelu Lukaku at Inter – another player who could not convince Solskjaer of his importance.
12. Anderson (2007-15)
A combative, hard-working presence in the United midfield, Anderson seemed to have a peculiar habit of kicking the ball as hard as possible regardless of whether he was shooting from 35 yards out or passing to a team-mate behind him.
He certainly got a huge medal haul – seven major trophies in eight years, no less – but his crowning achievement at Old Trafford was having a song to the tune of Black Lace’s 1984 hit ‘Agadoo’. And, yes, he was better than Kleberson.
11. Angel Di Maria (2014-15)
His audacious lob against Leicester City showed the sort of quality he could offer United as a then-British record signing (£60m, according to reports). Sadly, in that same game, United collapsed to lose 5-3 and Louis van Gaal seemed to lose all faith in attacking football of any kind.
Di Maria never seemed to gel with Van Gaal, nor did he ever settle in Manchester, and he was sold to Paris Saint-Germain for a loss within a year. He has, of course, been exceptional in France.
37.8% – Ángel Di María beat his opponent with just 37.8% of dribbles in the PL last season, below the league average of 49.1%. Predictable.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 3, 2015
Veron is another expensive Argentina star who scored a memorable goal in a 5-3 game for United – on that occasion, it was when they came from 3-0 down to beat Tottenham at White Hart Lane.
Veron was a good example of the right player signed at the wrong time. United still had great quality in midfield in 2001, when Veron joined from Lazio; within a couple of years, that strength in depth had evaporated, and the world’s most right-footed footballer would have been a welcome addition.
9. Fabio (2008-14)
Whether or not he really was the most talented of the Da Silva twins, as was claimed, Fabio was certainly not the most effective in his Old Trafford career.
Although a full-back by trade, Fabio made two rather decisive appearances in midfield for United. One was in a 2-0 FA Cup victory over Arsenal, when Alex Ferguson somehow pulled off a win with Fabio, Rafael, Darron Gibson and John O’Shea as the central four; the other was during a 3-2 home defeat to Blackburn Rovers on New Year’s Eve in 2011, a match that convinced Paul Pogba he had no immediate future at the club.
8. Andreas Pereira (2011-)
A Brazil international born in Belgium, Pereira had a long wait to break into United’s first team on a regular basis. Many supporters are still wondering when he will justify the patience.
The midfielder has talent, for sure, but whether he has enough to become a mainstay over the coming years remains to be seen. Solskjaer appears to be a big fan, so 2019-20 could be a crucial season for his development.
7. Diego Forlan (2002-04)
Forlan’s best days were certainly after he left Old Trafford, when he would become a fine forward for Villarreal and Atletico Madrid. He retired this month to a general hum of respect and admiration.
United fans will always remember him for a winning double against Liverpool in 2002, but his talent was just a little too raw for him to establish himself in the north west.
Luego de 21 años tomé la decisión de poner fin a mi carrera como futbolista profesional. Se cierra una linda etapa llena de grandes recuerdos y emociones pero comenzará otra de nuevos desafíos.
¡Gracias a todos los que de una u otra manera me acompañaron en este camino! pic.twitter.com/gVwX0RQJow
— Diego Forlan (@DiegoForlan7) August 7, 2019
Injuries, including serious knee damage, and a proclivity for a reckless challenge or two have dogged Rojo’s past couple of seasons and may leave many wondering why he is so high in this list.
Well, it’s easy to forget the important part he played in Mourinho’s first season, when United won the EFL Cup and Europa League. Such was his determination to run through the proverbial brick wall for his boss, he asked for a banana to give him an energy boost while playing in the last-16 win over Rostov.
5. Rafael (2008-15)
A popular figure like his brother, Rafael simply offered more quality and consistency in the United team, his best season coming as first-choice right-back when they last won the league in 2012-13.
Van Gaal was not a big fan, so he was sold to Lyon in 2015, with whom he signed a new contract in May.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) July 9, 2019
Although he was a touch heavy-handed with challenges at times – he really did like to lead with his elbows when jumping for headers – Heinze was an excellent player for United despite his second season being ruined by a major knee problem.
In fact, he would likely have stayed for longer had his place not been usurped by Patrice Evra, who was signed as cover following that injury.
3. Sergio Romero (2015-)
Okay, he has not played as often as others on this list, but Romero has essentially established himself as the most accomplished back-up goalkeeper in the world at United.
Hugely dependable when called upon, he was also first choice in the successful Europa League campaign of 2016-17 and kept a clean sheet in the final against Ajax.
2. Antonio Valencia (2009-19)
Some fans lost patience with him in his final few months, when he seemed to be phased out of the squad by Solskjaer with little explanation, but Valencia had a commendable career at United after joining from Wigan Athletic in 2009.
His decade at Old Trafford yielded two Premier Leagues, two EFL Cups, an FA Cup and a Europa League, as he marauded down the right flank as a wide midfielder and later as a first-rate converted full-back. He was the club’s Players’ Player of the Year twice, in 2011-12 (as a winger) and 2016-17 (as a defender).
— Antonio Valencia (@anto_v25) May 12, 2019
He’s not exactly the most popular man in the red half of Manchester given his move to City in 2009, but even the angriest of Red Devils cannot deny Tevez’s impact.
He spearheaded an attack containing Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo – one of the most fearsome United have ever had – and led Ferguson’s side to two Premier Leagues, an EFL Cup, a Club World Cup and the Champions League in just two years.