Manchester United’s South American Reds: Hit and miss

Manchester United have announced that the club has an agreement with Shakhtar Donetsk to sign Brazilian midfielder Fred. It is likely that the player will go on to represent the red side of Manchester like many South Americans before him. However, the South Americans that came before him, didn’t have the smoothest careers at Old Trafford. Some have been a success whilst others have been failures. MUFC Latest takes at some of the best and worst South American signings United have made.

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Juan Sebastian Veron

The Argentine arrived in Manchester from Lazio for a fee of £24.3 million. Sir Alex Ferguson brought in Veron to be an anchor in a midfield three which would also consist of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane. However, this did not go accordingly as the United midfielders struggled to adapt to a new midfield structure. Veron also struggled with the tempo of the English game. He did considerably better in the Champions League due to the European tempo that existed in most matches. Unfortunately, during his second season with the reds, he sustained an injury that would go on to be an ongoing problem throughout his career.

After just two seasons in Manchester, Veron was sold to Chelsea for £15 million in 2003. Many fans and pundits alike will consider Veron a flop at Manchester United. After being a record signing for a non-UEFA player, the Argentine failed to live up to his hype. However, he obviously gained respect from Sir Alex Ferguson. Answering critics, the Scot said: “Veron is a fucking great player and you’re all fucking idiots!”

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Diego Forlan

The Uruguayan joined Manchester United in January 2002 from Independiente in Argentina for a fee of £6.9 million. Unfortunately, Forlan’s start to his United career did not go as expected. The striker featured 13 times for United in the Premier League and five times in the Champions League. However, the player failed to score a single goal during his first season at Old Trafford.

Furthermore, the next two seasons from Forlan improved his stature at the club as the goals came in. The Uruguayan managed to score 17 goals in 98 appearances for the club. Although still not an amazing goal record, however, some of the goals he did score were important for the club. Some of these goals include an 85th-minute winner against Southampton and a 90th-minute winner against Chelsea. Overall, the striker contributed six goals during United’s successful 2002/2003 Premier League Winning campaign.

Though still not considered a successful signing by critics and fans, Diego Forlan’s name still gets sung at Old Trafford today. The Uruguayan scored two goals against Liverpool away at Anfield in the 2002/2003 league campaign. The Mancunian giants won the game 2-1 as Forlan went down in United folklore. Forlan has spoken out on his chant which goes; “Diego woah, Diego woah, he came from Uruguay, he made the scousers cry.” He said every time he hears the song it gives him goosebumps.

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Carlos Tevez

The Argentine was definitely a successful signing for Manchester United. However, his success at Old Trafford is overshadowed by joining local rivals Manchester City and being open about his bitterness towards Sir Alex Ferguson.

The player originally joined Manchester United on a two-year loan deal from West Ham United just in time for the 2007/2008 season. Almost immediately, Tevez came across as a player that Sir Alex Ferguson desired to sign on a permanent deal. Tevez formed one of the best attacking lines the Premier League has ever seen alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. The trio inspired United to a Premier League and Champions League double in Tevez’s first season at United. The striker contributed to 5 goals during the successful European campaign and scored the first penalty of the shootout in the final.

Near the end of his second season at Old Trafford, doubts about his United career unfolded. United failed to sign Tevez on a permanent deal and he joined Manchester City for the 2009/2010 season.

Obviously, it is hard for United fans to see Tevez in a positive way but whilst he wore the United shirt his quality and effort cannot be knocked. He’s certainly a one that got away for United fans.

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Antonio Valencia

The Ecuadorian was brought to Manchester United by Sir Alex Ferguson in June 2009. Although United did not win the league in his debut season, Valencia was an immediate success. In his first season at the club, he won the League Cup but also got into the PFA team of the year. The right-sided player is going into his ninth season at Old Trafford and remains a vital cog in Jose Mourinho’s team. After wearing the captains arm-band a number of times under Jose Mourinho, the player is one of the most experienced in the squad. Should United challenge for league in the coming season, Valencia is expected to be a regular starter.

One of the reasons for Antonio Valencia’s long-term success at Manchester United is his ability to operate as a right winger and at right back. Valencia is as equally effective in both roles either in attack or defence. Valencia’s main attributes are his aggressive style of play, his physicality, and his pace. These attributes allow the Ecuadorian to get forward and cause problems on the attack but also allow him to get back and be solid as a rock defensively.

Although arriving near the end of Sir Alex Ferguson’s spell at Old Trafford, the player has still enjoyed a decorated career at the club. Valencia has won the Premier League on two occasions, in the 2010/2011 season and the 2012/2013 season. He has won one FA Cup, two League Cups, three Community Shields and most recently the Europa League. Valencia is expected to be a stalwart in United’s side for another few years and would hope to add to this success.

Written by Shane Purcell

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