Photo: Bruno Fernandes has lit up the English Premier League since his arrival in the January transfer window. He has scored 8 goals and provided 7 assists for the club in 10 appearances.
The concept of a football transfer first came into existence in England after The Football Association (FA) introduced player registration sometime after 1885. Before that, a player could agree to play one or more matches for any football club. There are two transfer windows, the summer transfer window and the January transfer window.
Manchester United have made relatively little use of the January transfer window since its induction in 2003. Many major singing have taken place in England’s elite league over the years, some lived up to the billing and some failed miserably. Manchester United is no stranger to making big moves in January, hence, here is a list of the five best mid-season signings since '03.
5th-best: Louis Saha
Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was looking for a replacement for the Dutch striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy when Louis Saha, a gem from Fulham who was at his best joined United for a £12.8m deal.
Saha impressed early, with seven goals in his first 10 starts of the 2003–04 season and scored on his debut against Southampton. Saha, went on to spend four and a half seasons at Old Trafford and scored 42 goals in all competitions. He proved to be a suitable replacement for van Nistelrooy's at the club, before leaving for Everton in 2008. He formed a spectacular partnership with a young Wayne Rooney and kept van Nistelrooy out of the side more than once. During his tenure, he managed to cop two Premier League titles, 1 League Cup and 1 Champions League title.
4th-best: Juan Mata
The Spanish wizard Juan Mata has proved over the years that he is a very versatile player, who can play behind the strikers, the no. 10 role or on either flank. Juan Mata exudes class, intelligence and panache and not just with the ball at his feet. Mata has always been something of a dead-ball expert and in the 2018/2019 season he scored two vital free-kicks for the Reds, The first kick-started a 3-2 come back over Newcastle United and the second ensured Manchester United beat Juventus 2-1 in Turin in the Champions League. He has so far won four trophies at United.
3rd-best: Patrice Evra
It is said that ‘strikers score goals but defence win matches’. In an effort to sure up the defence after the sidelining of Gabriel Heinze, Sir Alex Ferguson went into the transfer window and captured the signature of Patrice Evra on 6 January 2006 for a few of around $5.5 million. After a shaky start to life in Manchester, Evra finally looked the part in his first full season, cementing his spot in the starting 11.
Evra scored his first goal for the club in a 3–0 league win over Everton. He then went on to score his first-ever goal in the Champions League and helped progress Manchester United to the semi-finals, where the club suffered defeat to the eventual champions Milan. He however, was named the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Player of the Year after helping Manchester United to lift the EPL title with two games to spare. A well decorated Manchester United player one can’t argue about him being among the top five January signings.
2nd-best: Nemanja Vidić
Few would have predicted during Nemanja Vidic's difficult first few months at the club, that he would go on to form part of an era-defining central-defensive partnership with Rio Ferdinand at United. He eventually became United captain and during his time at the club he helped ensure that plenty of silverware was added to Old Trafford's already packed trophy cabinet.
One of the finest central defenders to grace the Premier League, Vidic at his imperious best was a joy to watch. Fearless in a challenge and dominant in the air, he also improved throughout his time at the club at reading plays. He is United's second best January signing.
Best: Bruno Fernandes
On top of the pile is the Portuguese wonder kid, Bruno Fernandes. The wait for current Manchester United administration to find a play maker, a difference maker, was finally over when they have reached an agreement with Sporting for the transfer of Fernandes for a fee reportedly worth up to €80 million, on 29 January 2020.
Bruno played his first game in a 0-0 with Wolverhampton Wanderers on February 1, 2020 and it appeared as if he was playing with the team since the start of the season. His grace, touch, poise and eye to pick a pass was sublime. Since the resumption of the league he has won multiple club and Premier League awards, including Premier League Player of the Month and Goal of the Month, becoming the first player to win both awards concurrently in Premier League history.
He also became the first Manchester United player to win back to back Premier League Player of the Month awards since Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2006–07 season. Bruno Fernandes has scored 8 goals and assisted 7 times in 14 games in his Premier League debut season with Manchester United since his transfer in January 2020. No other January signing has given back a quicker return to United than Fernandes, and he is yet to lose a league game as a United player.
His presence has inspired a team that was 14 points off the pace to do the impossible and qualify for the Champions League for the 2020-2021 season and that is just the beginning.