As the 2023 transfer season begins, the airways are filled with exciting news and rumours about which player goes where. There are usually astronomical buyout clauses and transfer fees flying around. Still, the most exciting news is when a team manages to sign an excellent player for free – sort of. This season, one of the most valuable free agents on United’s wishlist is perhaps Youri Tielemans, whose Leicester contract expired. In the past, United has signed many free – or cheap – players who, like Tielemans most likely would, have proven to be of great value for the team. Let’s remember some of them today.

Michael Owen

Owen made his senior debut at Liverpool and spent most of his career there. After a season with Real Madrid, he returned to England, signing with Newcastle in 2005, a decision that he regretted – in an interview in 2019, he said he’d actually wanted to return to Liverpool. This is why his decision to join Manchester United upon his contract expiring at Newcastle took so many by surprise.

Having spent half of his career at United’s arch-nemesis didn’t affect his performance at Old Trafford. He has become a key part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad before leaving for Stoke in 2012. One year later, he retired.

Edinson Cavani

Cavani needs no introduction: El Matador is well-known by football fans and soccer Betway enthusiasts alike. He made a name for himself with the Serie A side Napoli, which he first joined (on loan) in 2010, and further improved his reputation during his time with Paris Saint Germain. But since all good things must come to an end, so did his contract in Paris.

Destination: Manchester! He left France for Old Trafford in October 2020, initially on a one-year contract, and got the number 7 shirt. Unfortunately, his debut at Manchester United coincided with the most disappointing football season in history.

Upon the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford, he gave up his number 7 jersey, switching to number 21, the same number he wears when playing with the Uruguay national team. Ultimately, he left United, joining Valencia – also as a free agent.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Finally, here’s one of the most famous United players who doesn’t need an introduction. Zlatan arrived at Old Trafford in 2016, after he broke all the records and won all the trophies with PSG. His debut at United was more than promising: he scored the match-winning goal in the FA Community Shield match against Leicester, then scored a long-range strike in his first EPL match against Bournemouth. His time at United was cut short by an injury, but it was intense and memorable.

An exorbitant transfer fee or a pricey buy-out clause doesn’t necessarily mean that the player signed will be a good choice – let the case of a certain famous Portuguese player be the best example of this. United has a knack for signing top talent for free. Let’s hope this will be the case in the 2023 summer transfer window as well.