Manchester United were one of the biggest spenders in the summer transfer window, spending £108.1m on new recruits. With the halfway stage of the Premier League season fast approaching, it is around this time that we have seen enough to be able to pass a fair judgement on how the new signings are getting on – and whether they were worth the significant investment.
Memphis Depay – C
United fans had high expectations after his move from Dutch champions. However, so far this season the United faithful have only seen flashes of his match-winning brilliance of last year. His spectacular brace against Club Brugge is an indication of what he can produce in this United side, but he has not produced to this level on a consistent basis.
After putting some pedestrian performances behind him Memphis opened his Premier league account against Sunderland and was expected to push on from there, yet he went over a whole month before getting on the scoresheet again; finally hitting his second against Watford.
Memphis will have to improve over the next half of the season if he wants to properly justify his summer price tag, and he’ll have to do it by replicating the exciting displays he managed while in a PSV shirt. The sort that brought guile, trickery and a moment of brilliance, something that this Manchester United side is crying out for, if he wants to be considered a success this season.
Matteo Darmian – B-
At the start of the season the Italian signing from Torino looked like one of the best signings of the summer – Darmian dealt with attacking threats calmly and with a sense of elegant ease, after man of the match performances in his first two Premier League games, former United legend Gary Neville, among others, were full of praise for the right-back.
In recent weeks, however, Darmian has seemingly gone off the boil and was withdrawn at half time due to miserable performances against Southampton and against Arsenal – an afternoon where he could be seen to be at fault for two of the goals in which Alexis Sanchez firmly had the better of him. Despite his dip in form Darmian has still, according to Squawka, made more successful tackles than any other United defender and has still created six chances for his forwards. He has been one of the more talented right full backs to emerge this season.
Sergio Romero — C+
Sergio Romero has kept three clean sheets in four Premier League appearances for United this campaign, but has not looked that entirely convincing when between the sticks. The Argentina international goalkeeper started in the opening weeks due to the absence of David de Gea in the midst of United’s transfer tussle with Real Madrid, but now that the Spain international is back in goal and back to his best, Romero has been firmly relegated to the bench. Romero’s mistakes against Swansea City at Liberty Stadium in August probably cost United the three points, but he is not a bad back-up goalkeeper to have in the squad.
Morgan Schneiderlin — B+
The summer acquisition from Southampton has settled nicely into life at Old Trafford, often providing an energy and steel that is often lacking in the highly competitive Manchester United midfield. Schneiderlin is not getting the playing time at United that he used to get at Southampton, but that is mainly because of manager Louis van Gaal’s rotation policy. When he has played Schneiderlin leads the midfield in interceptions (34) and tackles (23), showcasing how adept he is at breaking up the play. He also boasts an impressive 91% pass completion rate proving he is also valuable to the team with the ball at his feet.
Bastian Schweinsteiger — B
The World Cup winner arrived from Bayern Munich for a cut-price fee in the summer along with some fitness concerns. The “Deutscher Fußballmeister” only made 20 league appearances for the German champions last year after an injury ridden year. He has already made 14 for United this term and has, barring the Arsenal game, largely impressed. His intelligent and controlling displays from the midfield can’t be underrated in this possession-obsessed side.
Schweinsteiger is also a natural leader and although he is not club captain the influence he has in the dressing room is also something to admire. Whether or not he can remain fit for the rest of the season is still an issue, but if he can expect his importance to Manchester United to only get stronger.
Anthony Martial — A
Anthony Martial has arguably been the Premier League’s best teenager this season. His impressive performances have come as a shock to those who labelled him as a “panic buy” when Manchester United splashed out £35m on the former Monaco Striker. The 19-year-old hit the ground running, scoring that amazing solo goal against Liverpool on his debut.
Regularly cool, calm and collected in front of goal, Martial started life at Old Trafford with four goals in four games. Although the goals have dried up a bit after his fine start Martial is still putting in strong performances and is often the only bright spark in an otherwise unimaginative United attack. His pace, direct running and smart link up play have cemented his place as United’s main attacker this season. If Martial was indeed a panic buy he may go down in history as one of the best ever.