Javier Hernandez: from Chivas in 2010 (nominated by Sam Carney)

“Although they are a heavyweight in the Americas and often qualify for the knockout stages of World Cups, English clubs didn’t – and still don’t – tend to sign players straight from Mexico. That’s why the announcement of Javier Hernandez’s capture from Chivas of Guadalajara came as something of a surprise in May 2010. United wanted to fast-track the signing of ‘Chicharito’ due to his upcoming involvement in the World Cup in South Africa and what a decision that proved to be. He scored three times in pre-tournament friendlies, around the time the move was announced, and twice in the finals, making the rumoured transfer fee of £6 million look a real bargain even before kicking a ball in England. Once he got going at Old Trafford, he wasn’t bad either, netting 20 goals in his debut season and playing a huge part in the Reds winning title no.19. A signing few fans had heard of, he went on to become Mexico’s record scorer and one of just three non-European players to win the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award.”

Ronny Johnsen: from Besiktas in 1996 (nominated by Mark Froggatt)

“The signing of Ronny Johnsen is a classic example of due diligence and commitment, because the Norwegian was not a natural centre-back in his early career, after he had played up front and in central midfield – attracting interest from Bayern Munich while at Eik-Tonsberg, who demanded too much money for the signing, as Johnsen explained in his UTD Podcast. When he eventually moved back into defence, after the World Cup in 1994, his performances with Lillestrom led to a transfer to Besiktas and Alex Ferguson soon enquired about his services during the 1995/96 season. Remarkably, Ronny turned the boss down as he felt he could not abandon the Istanbul side part way through their campaign, showing impressive loyalty, yet United’s interest remained and a deal was completed in the summer of 1996.

“Initially signed as a squad player, Johnsen quickly became an influential performer and he famously forged a world-class partnership with Jaap Stam during the iconic Treble season, becoming one of only five players to start all three finals that year. The Ice Man eventually made 150 appearances for the club across six seasons and, while injuries cruelly plagued the final three campaigns, there is no question he was a bona-fide success at Old Trafford, and a testament to shrewd scouting by the club.”

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