It’s no secret that Manchester United spent big in the summer in an attempt to recapture the success which had made them one of the biggest clubs in Europe. Jose Mourinho was appointed as manager in May 2016 and he got straight to work, signing Eric Bailly in the hope of improving United’s central defence. He followed it up with big-money moves for Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as well as a high-profile signing in Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
However, Mourinho’s four summer signings have not all been a success. Pogba has come under criticism from opposing fans and pundits all season. It was also a slow start for Mkhitaryan – who had to wait a while until he made regular starts in the Premier League. But how have they fared overall?
EPLIndex has analysed each of Mourinho’s signings and given our verdict of what their impact has been on United this season…
Paul Pogba – signed for £89m from Juventus
Appearances: 47 (2)
EPLIndex Rating out of 10: 6/10
Manchester United’s biggest signing was always going to find it tough with a huge price-tag hanging over his head. However, Pogba will have wanted to make a bigger impression than he has – especially after his strong performances on the international stage in the summer. The Frenchman has looked sluggish, short of ideas and out of his depth on many occasions this season. He has been criticised for going ‘lost’ when it matters and Pogba has certainly not had the influence on United’s midfield as he did at Juventus.
However, the United academy graduate has shown confidence and poise on occasions and it’s clear he has the ability to control the game and hold up play. It’s fair to say his first season has been disappointing but he has the talent to become an important player under Mourinho. Based on his performances in 2016-17 though, the price-tag has not been justified.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan – signed for £35m from Borussia Dortmund
Appearances: 28 (10)
EPLIndex Rating out of 10: 7/10
It was certainly a slow start for the Armenian but as soon as Mkhitaryan was given a run of games under Mourinho, he showed just why he has been tipped as one of Europe’s most exciting talents. Despite only starting 14 games in the Premier League, he has scored four goals and has proven to be one of United’s most deadliest attacking threats when in top form.
He has pace and creativity in abundance but Mkhitaryan needs to work on his physicality in order to adapt to the Premier League. He has been shoved off the ball far too easily at times and he lacks the strength and awareness to hold the ball up in key areas. His first season at United has been a promising one and he should become a regular starter next season.
Eric Bailly – signed for £32m from Villarreal
Appearances: 34 (1)
EPLIndex Rating out of 10: 6/10
The defender was a shrewd signing from Mourinho. Bailly has shown glimpses of a great partnership with Chris Smalling at the heart of United’s defence but he has spent the majority of his first campaign on the sidelines nursing injuries.
When fit, he has commanded the back-line with confidence, looked solid in his positioning and has made a number of crucial tackles and interceptions. If United can keep Bailly fit, he could become a key starter in the next few years.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – signed on a free from Paris Saint-Germain
Appearances: 41 (5)
EPLIndex Rating out of 10: 8/10
Considering United beat a whole host of clubs to his signature and Ibrahimovic cost them nothing, the striker has been a huge asset to them this season. There were question marks over whether his lack of pace would be detrimental to the Premier League but he quickly answered his critics when it was clear his goal-scoring prowess would be a threat this season.
He has lead the United attacking line with arrogance and he has scored some big goals for the team throughout the campaign. If United want to compete in the Champions League next season, they will need to keep hold of Ibrahimovic as he has undoubtedly been one of their best players of the season.
*All transfer information based on statistics from www.whoscored.com*