When Louis van Gaal was appointed manager of Manchester United in May 2014, he wasted no time in stamping his imprint on the group he inherited from David Moyes.
During his first summer in command, he brought in a slew of new players, including big-money recruits Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid and Luke Shaw from Southampton. The United management dug deep into their coffers to fund a summer purchasing spree, hoping that Van Gaal’s hiring would have the intended effect.
However, in his first season in charge, United finished fourth in the Premier League and failed to win a trophy, prompting another major recruitment push the following summer. The 2015/16 season provided success in terms of winning a trophy, and lifting the FA Cup, but the Reds failed to earn Champions League participation, resulting in Van Gaal’s dismissal a few days after the FA Cup final victory over Crystal Palace at Wembley.
But what became of the first-team player’s Van Gaal brought to Old Trafford during his tenure? MEN Sport has taken a look at what they’re up to right now.
Ander Herrera – The first and most successful signing of the Van Gaal era. He appeared in 189 games for the club, scoring 20 goals. During his time at United, he won four titles, three of which he won under Jose Mourinho in 2016/17. He left the club on a free transfer in June 2019, joining Paris Saint-Germain. Eight years after departing for Old Trafford, he returned to his old club Athletic Bilbao on a season-long loan last month.
Luke Shaw – At the age of 18, he joined United for a fee in the region of £30 million and struggled to adjust to life at Old Trafford. He did, however, show indications of potential at the start of the 2015/16 season before being sidelined with a long-term injury, which slowed his progress. However, he overcame that setback and established himself as a major player in the 2018/19 season. He is now second in the team’s pecking order, trailing summer acquisition Tyrell Malacia.
Marcos Rojo – One of many dubious signings made by United in recent years. He made 26 and 28 appearances in his first two seasons at United, both under Van Gaal, before making more than 40 appearances under Jose Mourinho in 2016/17. That, however, was his only meaningful appearance for the club, and he was loaned out to Estudiantes in January 2020. In February of last year, he departed United on a permanent basis to join Boca Juniors.
Angel Di Maria – Di Maria joined Manchester United for a club-record fee of £59.7 million in August 2014. He had an immediate impact at Old Trafford, scoring three goals and assisting six times in his first ten Premier League outings. However, things quickly went south for the winger, as a hamstring injury meant he never recovered to his full potential. He left a year after joining, joining Paris Saint-Germain in August 2015. He stayed in Paris until this summer when he joined Juventus on a free transfer.
Daley Blind – Another of Van Gaal’s more successful signings, Blind stayed at Old Trafford for four years until returning to Ajax in 2018. The versatile Dutchman, who appeared in 141 games for the Reds, was perhaps the club’s finest defender during his time in M16 but lacked physicality and pace. The now-32-year-old returned to Ajax more than four years ago and is still at the club and playing consistently.
Radamel Falcao – The final big-name signing of Van Gaal’s first summer in command, Falcao’s loan move to Old Trafford from Monaco had everyone salivating. He had built his name as a seasoned goalscorer at clubs such as Atletico Madrid and Porto, but he only scored four goals in 29 games for United, becoming one of the club’s worst failures of all time. Chelsea, on the other hand, took him on loan the following season and he scored just one goal for them. After a return to Monaco and a period at Galatasaray, he is present with Rayo Vallecano and visited Old Trafford in pre-season at the end of July.
Victor Valdes – United’s first high-profile signing of the 2015 January transfer window, Valdes was signed on a free transfer after leaving Barcelona the previous summer. Despite his extensive experience, he only appeared twice for the Reds, one of which was as a substitute. After a loan spell with Standard Liege in 2015/16, he left United permanently in July 2016 and joined Middlesbrough. After the Riverside club was demoted the following summer, he withdrew from soccer.
Memphis Depay was a signing that promised a lot but produced very little. The Dutchman joined United from PSV Eindhoven in July 2015, but he struggled to make an impact, scoring only seven goals in 53 games. The Reds sold him in January 2017 to French giants Lyon. After four years in France, he moved to Barcelona on a free transfer in June of last year. Last month, United considered re-signing him, but nothing came of it, so he remains at the Camp Nou.
Matteo Darmian – The Italian made a promising start to his United career as the second of five July signings in the summer of 2015, but swiftly lost his way, culminating in him becoming nothing more than a squad player. The now-32-year-old played 92 times for the Reds before being traded to Parma in January 2019. Just over a year later, he joined Inter Milan on loan before becoming a permanent member of the club last summer after helping them win the Serie A title in 2020/21.
Bastian Schweinsteiger – Arguably the most important signing of the 2015 summer window, the German would have been an excellent addition to United had he come a few years earlier. Unfortunately for Van Gaal, he was 30 at the time, and his prime years had passed him by. He made 35 appearances for United before being granted a release in March 2017, allowing him to join MLS club Chicago Fire. He retired from football in October 2019 after nearly 100 appearances for them.
Morgan Schneiderlin – Another midfielder signed from Southampton in July 2015, Schneiderlin, like Depay, failed to make an impression. He had made an impression on the South Coast and was an intriguing signing. However, he only appeared in 47 games for United. In January 2017, he was sold to Everton, where he reconnected with former boss Ronald Koeman. He remained at Goodison Park until June 2020, when he was sold to Nice of France. He is still on their payroll.
Sergio Romero – As far as free agents go, Romero is one of the greatest any club could make. Over the course of six years, he established himself as a solid backup option to David de Gea, and he finally left Old Trafford at the end of the 2020/21 season. He appeared in 61 games and was managed by three different people. In October of last year, he joined the Italian club Venezia before returning to Argentina to join Boca Juniors.
Anthony Martial is one of only two Van Gaal signings left at United. Following an encouraging debut season at Old Trafford following his move from Monaco, in which he scored 18 goals and assisted 11, the Frenchman has blown hot and cold ever since. His form has been inconsistent, and he spent time on loan at Sevilla last season. Erik ten Hag gave him a route back into the fold during pre-season, and he impressed in Thailand and Australia, but he has only made one appearance this season due to injury concerns.