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Sunday 20 April 2014

Five of the most pivotal signings in the history of Man United

Robin van Persie is nearing full recovery from thigh injury
Robin van Persie

David Moyes is crossing his fingers that Juan Mata's club record £37.1million transfer from Chelsea is the move that transforms Manchester United from fallen giant into Premier League contenders once more.

If Mata fulfils that expectation, he will be following an illustrious list of players who have achieved such a notable distinction already.

Here, we list five players whose arrival - arguably - helped the Old Trafford outfit become what it is today.

Tommy Taylor (signed March 1953 from Barnsley - fee £29,999)

Matt Busby did not want to burden Taylor with the tag of becoming the first £30,000 player, hence the unusual fee. The Yorkshireman proved well worth the expense though. Overall, he scored 131 goals in 191 appearances, playing inspirational roles in the title triumphs of 1956 and 1957. Tragically killed at Munich. Number 14 on United's all-time scoring chart.

First Division titles - 2.

Denis Law (signed July 1962 from Torino - £115,000)

Law was a key figure in Busby's rebuilding post-Munich. Famously in hospital when United won the European Cup in 1968 recovering from knee surgery, Law nevertheless did as much as anyone to both win the title that allowed entry into the competition, and guide United towards the Holy Grail. Second only to Sir Bobby Charlton in the goalscoring list, Law's 237 came in an incredible 404 games, including 18 hat-tricks.

First Division - 2. FA Cup - 1.

Eric Cantona (signed November 1992 from Leeds - £1.2 million)

The inspirational arrival that sparked the end of United's 26-year wait for the championship. Signed on a whim by Ferguson in a call when Leeds were registering their interest in Denis Irwin, Cantona set the standards off the field and brought a touch of genius on it. His tally of 82 goals in 185 appearances does scant justice to his overall contribution.

Premier Leagues - 4. FA Cups - 2.

Cristiano Ronaldo (signed August 2003 from Sporting Lisbon - £12.24million)

Ferguson signed Ronaldo following the then 17-year-old's stunning performance against United in a pre-season friendly. Although he took a little time to fulfil his potential, Ronaldo was a central component in three successive titles, scoring 42 times in the season which saw United crowned Champions League winners once more. Crowned world player of the year in 2008, Ronaldo was sold to Real Madrid for £80million a year later where he has gone on to get even better still.

Premier Leagues - 3. FA Cups - 1.

Robin van Persie (signed August 2012 from Arsenal - £24million)

It seemed the Red Devils were on the slide after losing their title on goal difference to Manchester City. Midfield looked to be the area that needed strengthening. Instead Ferguson reinforced his attack. Van Persie proved to be another masterstroke. A glut of 18 goals in 26 games included efforts in wins against Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, twice. Without him United would not have won the title last season.

Premier League - 1.

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