Manchester United are the most successful club in English football, especially in the Premier League era. Unsurprisingly, some of the best players to have graced the sport have worn the club's jersey over the years.
Thanks to their illustrious history, rich pedigree, and fabulous scouting network, Manchester United have also been home to a bevvy of unpolished gems who later blossomed into superstars. A few cases in point would be Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.
Five players that got away from Manchester United
Despite the club being in the midst of a prolonged lean spell in recent times, the likes of Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood have earned rich plaudits for their impressive displays that have belied their young years.
However, United haven't always struck gold in terms of recruiting or retaining the right talent. Manchester United are indeed culpable of letting go precociously talented players, or ones of known pedigree who went on to flourish elsewhere after leaving Old Trafford.
On that note, let us have a look at five such players, in no particular order, whom Manchester United prematurely jettisoned.
#5 Wilfried Zaha
After honing his skills at Crystal Palace's academy, a 21-year-old Wilfried Zaha arrived at Manchester United in the summer of 2013.
Zaha was the last player signed by Manchester United's legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, but only made his debut in the 2013-14 season, after Sir Alex had departed.
Zaha is versatile enough to be deployed as a winger, but was never afforded enough opportunities at United. Under the tutelage of David Moyes, Zaha was restricted to only four games all season, before he was loaned back to Crystal Palace, who later signed him permanently.
The striker's former teammate Glen Murray said that had Ferguson stayed at Manchester United, Zaha had the wherewithal to blossom into a world-class player.
"I believe that if Sir Alex (Ferguson) still would have been in charge, he (Zaha) would have been one of the best players out there now."
#4 Angel Gomes
Angel Gomes, a Manchester United academy graduate, etched his name into the club's history books when he came on to replace Wayne Rooney in the last game of the 2016-17 season.
In the process, the then 16-year-old became the youngest player to play for Manchester United in the Premier League.
However, the honeymoon period did not last too long for the much-touted attacking midfielder. A paucity of first-team opportunites forced the diminutive player to reject a contract extension at Old Trafford and try his luck elsewhere.
"I don’t know what the talks are behind the scenes. Angel’s a top kid. Of course, there are people around him that advise him to do different things. If he doesn’t sign, all the best to Angel and I’m going to follow his career. If he signs for us, let’s kick on," Solskjaer said about Gomes.
Gomes made a grand total of ten appearances for the club in three seasons before opting to join French club Lille this summer.
On loan at Boavista now, Gomes has already scored thrice in five games this season. Considering his exploits in his new surroundings, he could be another fine player whom Manchester United have let go, despite a number of academy players prospering under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.