The Red Devils have however been involved in some of the highest transfer spendings in Premier League history, the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid in 2007 for £80 million in the summer of 2009 is still a world record that may stand for a long time to come unless Gareth Bale has his way.
We take a look at the top five transfer fees ever paid by the Premier League champions after adjusting for inflation and come up with some surprising numbers.
|5. Ruud van Nistelrooy from PSV Eindhoven £26.6 million* June 2001|
Although Robin van Persie was prised away from rivals Arsenal for £24 million just one summer ago, and stands as the fifth most expensive investment by Manchester United in absolute numbers, it's Dutch hitman Ruud van Nistelrooy who pips him to the expense race when adjusted for inflation. Originally earmarked for transfer in the summer of June 2000, a knee injury meant the move was put on ice and eventually seen through a year later. A feared forward in the Eredivisie, Nistelrooy proved to be an instant success when brought in for £18.5million, a price that had little effect on the player. He scored 23 goals in the league in his first season and eventually netted 150 goals from 219 games in a near 5-year long career before being shipped off to Real Madrid.
|4. Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham £34.75 million* September 2008|
|3. Wayne Rooney from Everton £35.1 million* August 2004|
|2. Juan Sebastian Veron from Lazio £39.4 million* July 2001|
Argentine international Veron was brought to Old Trafford on the back of an illegal citizenship investigation for a then British record transfer fee of £28.1 million (now £39.4 million) in July of 2001. The midfielder was a driving force of the Sven-Goran Ericksson led Lazio side that captured the Scudetto, Coppa Italia and the Italian Super Cup. Veron was also notably Ferguson's first big splash for a foreign player and that always meant the player was going to come under extra scrutiny. Unsurprisingly his spell at Man Utd was troubled and the player was only a shadow of himself, the large transfer fee also weighing heavily. Ferguson however has always been in defence of the player and once famously blurted out when questioned by reporters: "Veron is a f***ing great player and you're all f***ing idiots." A move to Chelsea two years later proved to be semi-successful until injuries took its toll. Subsequent spell at Inter was much more fruitful with the player winning championships again before returning to Argentina.
|1. Rio Ferdinand from Leeds United £40.4 million* July 2002|
For the second successive summer Alex Ferguson dove into the transfer market to break the transfer record to sign 23-year-old Rio Ferdinand who had had a splendid World Cup outing in the summer with England in the Far East. The world's most expensive defender when he moved from West Ham to Leeds, Ferdinand reclaimed that title upon his arrival at Old Trafford. His first season was a success as he endured a difficult adjustment period to win the league title with the Red Devils, but Ferdinand's most difficult test would come the following summer. A failure to show up for a mandatory drug test led to the defender being handed an unprecedented 8-month ban, drawing attention from Fifa President Sepp Blatter himself. The incident was quickly put behind as Ferdinand firmly established himself as part of the backbone of the Manchester United side that would go on to claim further accolades and at 34 has at least one more season left at Old Trafford.
*Figures have been adjusted for inflation