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Jadon Sancho, Paul Pogba and five Man Utd flops sent back to their old club

Tom Weber
Tom Weber

  • Updated: 5 Jan 2024 14:54 GMT
  • 4 min read
Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund, 2023/24
© ProShots

Jadon Sancho becomes the latest star in a long list of failed Manchester United signings to head back to his old club.

Though persistently poor signings have only fairly recently become a feature of the Red Devils, not even the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson was infallible when it came to the risky business of transfers.

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Even under the club’s most successful coach ever, several players failed to have the desired impact and were eventually shipped back to their former sides.

In recent years, Man Utd have become notorious for their terrible deals and this has once again become apparent presently. Here are five Man Utd flops who were sent back to their old club.

Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)

Jadon Sancho (right)
© ProShots – Jadon Sancho (right)

Man Utd pursued the signing of Jadon Sancho for two years, eventually striking a whopping €85 million deal with Borussia Dortmund in 2021. His time at Old Trafford, however, has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.

Accused of having disciplinary issues and frequently being late, Sancho was ultimately exiled from the squad by head coach Erik ten Hag in September 2023 after essentially calling him a liar on social media.

Sancho rejoined Borussia Dortmund on loan in the following January window in a bid to revive a career that had already hit rock bottom at just 23 years of age.

Paul Pogba (Juventus)

Paul Pogba
© ProShots – Paul Pogba

Incredibly, Paul Pogba had not one but two unsuccessful stints at Old Trafford. Snapped up by the Red Devils as a youth, he only made three appearances under Sir Alex Ferguson before departing for Juventus.

After emerging as one of the biggest talents in Europe in Italy, Man Utd brought him back in 2016 for a ludicrous €105m. However, he didn’t fare much better the second time around and eventually left on a free transfer as a major disappointment in 2022, returning to the Old Lady where his nightmare continued, testing positive for enhanced levels of testosterone in 2023.

Gerard Pique (Barcelona)

Gerard Pique
© ProShots – Gerard Pique

It is difficult to imagine Gerard Pique at a club not named FC Barcelona, but the now-retired Spaniard actually was on the books at Man Utd at one point. Poached from La Masia in 2004, the centre-back would only go on to make 12 senior appearances for the Red Devils under Ferguson.

In 2008, he returned to Barcelona and would go on to become a club legend, playing close to 400 competitive games and winning everything there is to win in football. He is one that got away from Man Utd.

Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

Wilfried Zaha
© ProShots – Wilfried Zaha

Devastating young winger Wilfried Zaha burst onto the scene at Crystal Palace before being snapped up by Man Utd in 2013. Tipped for great things, Zaha’s time at Old Trafford was over before it really got going.

He joined the club permanently in the summer of Ferguson’s retirement and did not see eye to eye with new boss David Moyes. By January 2014, he had been loaned to Cardiff. The following summer he returned to Palace on loan before eventually signing on permanently, having made just two competitive appearances for United.

At Palace, Zaha became a club legend, making north of 400 senior appearances across his several stints with the Eagles, before departing for Galatasaray in 2023.

Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund)

Shinji Kagawa
© ProShots – Shinji Kagawa

One of the first major victims of the dreaded Bundesliga tax, Shinji Kagawa was a standout player for Jurgen Klopp’s exhilarating Borussia Dortmund side. Signed by Man Utd for €16m in 2012, the midfielder found himself dressed in Black and Yellow again by 2014.

Across two seasons in Manchester, Kagawa only featured in 38 games. He never quite managed to nail down a starting spot and after six goals and four assists in his debut season, his production dropped to just four assists and no goals in his sophomore campaign. At the end of that season, he returned to Dortmund for €8m.

He has since played for an eclectic assortment of sides such as Besiktas, Real Zaragoza, PAOK and Sint-Truiden before returning to the club where his professional career began, Cerezo Osaka.

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