Manchester United don't always do much business in January but every once in a while, they've been able to bring in some absolute gems.
The disparity in the amount of activity between the summer transfer window and the January one has to do with a lot of factors. Teams do not want to lose their players halfway into the season and don't usually budge unless of course they are tabled an offer they can't refuse.
Sometimes bringing in reinforcements halfway through the season can help turn around the fortunes of a side and we are not alien to that sort of transformations. The Red Devils have had contrasting fortunes when it comes to their activity in recent January transfer windows.
On that note, let's take a look at five of the best January signings in Manchester United history.
5 best January signings in Manchester United history
#5 Juan Mata
Juan Mata was the only ray of hope in an otherwise desolate 2013-14 season for Manchester United and the Old Trafford faithful absolutely adore him for that reason.
The post Sir Alex Ferguson gloom and dullness was going to take a bit of getting used to but David Moyes' first and only season in charge was only a wee bit short of disastrous. Moyes' biggest signing of the summer was Marouane Fellaini and that was after he reportedly rejected Thiago Alcantara.
An insipid Manchester United midfield received a major boost with the arrival of the Spaniard from Chelsea. Mata immediately showed signs of quality and though he couldn't redeem Moyes' season or save him from the sack, the Spaniard kept toiling away and has gone on to contribute immensely from there on.
Mata has won the FA Cup, EFL Cup, the Europa League and the Community Shield with Manchester United and for his sheer longevity and the service he has provided from across various positions in midfield, he makes the list ahead of a certain Louis Saha who was an exceptional January signing as well.
#4 Patrice Evra
Patrice Evra is one of Manchester United's best ambassadors even if not in an official capacity. Football fans should be well acquainted with Evra's love for the game and Manchester United unless they've been living under a rock.
The Frenchman is also one of the finest left-backs to have graced the Premier League. Evra was a stalwart for Sir Alex Ferguson's side and was also one of the strongest characters on the team.
Evra was signed from AS Monaco in January, 2006 as a backup for Heinze. He struggled to fit in at first although he went onto replace Heinze and nail down a starting spot the following season. That is the only reason why Evra is not placed higher up on the list as his achievements for the club are quite extraordinary.
Evra was a critical part of the team that won the UEFA Champions League title in Moscow in 2008. In addition to that, he has also won five Premier League titles, three Football League Cups and one FIFA World Cup. Evra continues to be a fan-favourite at Old Trafford.
#3 Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes does not make this list for his trophy haul at Manchester United because there's still plenty of time for that. The Portuguese maverick makes the list for the sheer impact he has had at the club on an individual level since joining in January 2020.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side was huffing and puffing through the 2020-21 season looking destined to finish outside the top four. Bruno Fernandes' Manchester United entry in January changed all of that. Fernandes is one of the most prolific midfielders in the world in terms of goal contributions.
He has had a galvanizing effect on the club and has proved to be the X-factor that the club had been lacking for a long time. Fernandes has scored 11 goals and assisted seven from across 19 appearances in the Premier League this term and is the main reason why Manchester United are sitting at the top of the table halfway through the season.
Bruno Fernandes was also the main man behind Manchester United's resurgence last term. He led from the front as they made it to the top four on the final day of the 2019-20 season. From the 14 appearances he made since joining in January 2020, Bruno Ferandes scored eight goals and provided seven assists.
The 26-year-old looks set to have a great career at Manchester United and is sure to climb this list once his trophy cabinet starts getting populated.
#2 Andy Cole
Andy Cole is one of the finest strikers of the Premier League era and he was a January signing as well. He also made an instant impact at the club scoring 12 goals from 17 starts after joining from Newcastle United in the 1994-95 season.
He then suffered from a dip in productivity in his sophomore season and was nearly written off after being blighted with injuries in his third. However, Andy Cole returned to prime goalscoring form in the 1997/98 season and became one of the best strikers in the land, scoring more than 20 goals per campaign for the next three seasons.
Along the way, he won that famous 1998/99 treble with Manchester United and was one of the best players on the squad. He also struck up one of the Premier League's best striking partnerships with Dwight Yorke.
Andy Cole has won five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a UEFA Champions League title at Manchester United.
#1 Nemanja Vidic
Perhaps the most intimidating defender to have plied his trade in the Premier League, Nemanja Vidic sits atop this list for being the champion footballer he was since joining Sir Alex Ferguson's side in the January of 2005-06.
Alongside Rio Ferdinand, the Serb formed arguably the finest centre-back partnership in the history of the Premier League.
While the likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez run riot in attack, Ferdinand and Vidic pulled the shutter down on their defensive third and dealt with everything that came their way with a sort of belligerence we're used to seeing only in gangster movies of the 70s.
Vidic never shied away from putting his body on the line and would throw himself at shots without a moment's hesitation. It was nearly impossible to get the better of Vidic in aerial duels and he dominated Premier League strikers during his time in the English top-flight.
Vidic has won five Premier League titles, one Champions League, three League Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup during his time at Manchester United. Though his exit was rather unceremonious, where he was pictured signing his Inter Milan contract whilst still captaining Manchester United during a turbulent season, he continues to be a much adored figure among the Old Trafford faithful.