Man Utd’s 16 academy graduates play elsewhere in the big leagues
Manchester UnitedThe talent factory has been the key to some of the club’s biggest successes in modern times and has also made fools into experts along the way.
In 1995, Alan Hansen predicted that United would win nothing with the class of 92 at the heart of their squad, only for the Red Devils to win the Premier League and the FA Cup that season, and the treble three seasons later. But not all of them hang around Old Trafford for long.
We looked at all of the club’s young graduates currently plying their trade elsewhere in the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A or Ligue 1, except those on loan from United.
The center-back won three Premier League titles, two League Cups and the Champions League during his time with United, but left to join West Brom in 2015 after falling out of favor somewhat.
He spent three seasons with the Baggies but left the ship after their relegation in 2018, joining Leicester City on the cheap.
At 33, he once again aims to play on the biggest European stage with the Foxes.
Not a name that immediately comes to mind when you think of Manchester United, which is largely due to the fact that he has only made 18 first-team appearances for the Red Devils.
At least he managed to grab a Community Shield victory with him. After leaving Old Trafford for good in 2008, Bardsley traveled to Sunderland where he spent six years and made 200 appearances.
A spell with Stoke City followed and he can be found in Sean Dyche’s Burnley squad on match days, usually off the bench though.
Welbeck proved to be a stable and reliable resource for Sir Alex Ferguson towards the end of his time at the club, winning two Premier League titles and scoring 29 goals.
A mixed fate with Arsenal followed, where he struggled with injuries but still managed to score 32 times in 126 games.
A short stint with Watford came in their final Premier League season and he now finds himself on the south coast trying to keep Brighton in the top flight.
With a name like Keane, expectations were always going to be high for the center-back but, although he always had a lot of hype around him, he never managed to make five first-team appearances.
Instead, the center-back made a name for himself after moving to Burnley, becoming an integral part of Sean Dyche’s defense before eventually being poached by Everton for £ 25million.
After moving to United from Norway, King remained at the club for seven years, before joining Blackburn Rovers in 2013.
He spent two seasons at Ewood Park and scored eight goals in 72 games before joining Bournemouth for a free transfer in 2015.
A much more fruitful spell followed with the Cherries (sorry) as King scored 53 goals in 184 appearances. But, after their relegation in 2020, it always seemed his future lay elsewhere, eventually returning to the Premier League with Everton in January 2021.
A great career with Manchester United never seemed likely, as Brady only made one first-team appearance between 2011 and 2013, moving to Hull for just over £ 2million after impressing on loan .
Its value has steadily increased since then, moving to Norwich for £ 9million and then Burnley in 2017 for £ 13million.
He is now in his fourth season at Turf Moor, but injuries have recently hampered his career. Brady suffered a knee injury in September 2017 that kept him out for almost a year, and he’s been plagued by many problems since.
Hoolahan’s Cross 🧙♂️ ➡️ Brady’s Head ⚽️
3⃣ years ago today, it was THAT Robbie Brady’s goal against Italy 🇮🇹
– FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) June 22, 2019
Heaton has proven himself wherever he has gone since leaving Old Trafford in 2010, with Cardiff, Bristol City, Burnley and now Aston Villa all benefiting from his services.
He was ubiquitous when Burnley was promoted to the Premier League in 2014 and again in 2016, captaining Dyche’s men for the second time.
After losing his place in the goal against Nick Pope, Heaton moved to Aston Villa in 2019, adding another promotion to his list of honors.
McNeil is another who spent time at the United States Academy before fleeing the Nest, leaving for Burnley’s own academy in 2014. His name has since been mentioned for a potential return to Old Trafford.
Norwood was instrumental in bringing Sheffield United back to the top flight under Chris Wilder.
The midfielder maestro spent time on loan with Carlisle, Scunthorpe and Coventry before Huddersfield Town finally bought him from the Red Devils.
But after just two years he was on the move again, joining Reading in 2014. After leaving the Royals in 2016, a series of three consecutive promotions followed with Brighton, Fulham and the Blades. A championship lucky charm if there is one.
Johnstone spent 10 loan spells at Old Trafford before finally being permanently bought out by West Brom in the summer of 2018.
He never made an appearance for the Red Devils, but has now established himself as one of the Premier League’s most promising shooters after an impressive top-tier debut campaign with the Baggies.
He’s a ridiculous guardian of Sam Johnstone 🤯pic.twitter.com/TI57OrTV2B
– Tom Carnduff (@ TomC_22) October 1, 2019
The Burnley youngster enjoyed a brief moment in the spotlight at the start of this season, scoring against Leicester City at King Power.
Dunne moved to Burnley Academy in the summer of 2016 and after a few loan spells he is now starting to find himself in and around the first team.
Now 32, Zieler joined United Academy in 2005 from Cologne and was loaned out to Northampton Town in the 2007-08 season.
He was cleared to leave on a free transfer to Hanover in 2010 and, aside from a brief stint at Leicester City, has remained in the Bundesliga ever since, currently turning again for Cologne.
He appeared to be the first golden kid of the post-Fergie era when he burst onto the scene under David Moyes in the 2013-14 season, scoring four goals in 27 Premier League appearances.
But under Louis Van Gaal, his opportunities began to dry up. Loan spells followed with Borussia Dortmund and Sunderland before a permanent move to Real Sociedad in 2017.
Gollini only spent two years at the United Academy after leaving Fiorentina, before returning to Italy with Hellas Verona in 2014.
From there, he was signed by Aston Villa in 2016 as they looked to rebound directly in the Premier League, but returned to Italy again in January, signing a loan for Atalanta.
Eighteen months later, he made the same gesture definitively and now frequently finds himself between the sticks of one of the most exciting clubs in Europe.
Recently departing from Manchester United, Fosu-Mensah moved to Bayer Leverkusen in the January transfer window after seven years with the club.
He made 30 appearances for the Red Devils in total and won FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League winners’ medals during this time.
However, a recent rupture of his cruciate ligament added a sour note to what was to be a big move for the 23-year-old.
It might sound harsh to call Fabio the second best twin, but it’s not a lie either.
Arriving at United academy alongside his brother Rafael in 2008, Fabio found himself on loan after four years as he struggled to earn a place in the first team.
A permanent move to Cardiff followed in 2014, leaving 56 appearances and two Premier League titles to his name. We now find him playing at the right-back of Nantes in Ligue 1.