Top Ten – Ranking Manchester United’s best forwards from 2000 onwards

Manchester United, one of the biggest clubs in the world, has enjoyed the respective talents of some of the game’s most talented forwards in its long and illustrious history.

But which of those forwards make it into the top ten to turn out for ‘The Red Devils’ since the turn of this century?

Below is a list ranking Manchester United’s best ‘millenial’ forwards based on goals, impact on the team and overall performance.

10) Anthony Martial

The former Monaco man joined Manchester United in the summer of 2015 with a ‘wonderkid’ reputation. He lived up to his expectations and scored more goals (17) than any other player at the club in his first season.

However, with the arrival of Jose Mourinho, not only his shirt number but also his role changed from a striker to winger. His playing time became limited and was mostly used as a substitute in the 16/17 season. No wonder he managed only four goals in 25 appearances.

9) Danny Welbeck

Danny Welbeck wasn’t exactly the player to put fear in the heart of defenders, but his versatility is what made him useful to the team. His place and ability to play in multiple attacking positions were evident during his time under Sir Alex Ferguson.

However, the Longsight-born forward found himself out of favour under Louis Van Gaal and was sold to Arsenal. He managed 29 goals in 142 appearances for Manchester United.

8) Louis Saha

Signed for a fee of £12.4m in 2004 after his impressive spell at Fulham, Louis Saha looked the real deal. Lethal in front of goal early in his time at the club, he became a regular starter after Van Nistelrooy left for Madrid.

But, no thanks to his injuries, he couldn’t really get going and only managed 42 goals in 124 appearances for the club before being sold to Everton.

7) Dimitar Berbatov

The Bulgarian joined Manchester United from Spurs for a fee of around £30.75 million. Despite not being the most clinical finisher to join Manchester United, Berbatov became popular among the fans.

From scoring a hattrick against Liverpool, scoring five goals in a single game, to scoring the odd overhead kick, Berbatov had all in his locker. He managed 56 goals in 149 games for the club.

6) Marcus Rashford

Dreams do come true, just ask Marcus Rashford. The Manchester-born striker scored on his respective Europa League, Premier League, Manchester Derby and England debuts!

He has been a regular in the team this season supplementing Ibrahimovic from the wings. His forward runs, blistering pace and dribbling past opponents has made him a fan favorite at Old Trafford.

At just 19 years of age, Rashford has enjoyed a blistering start to his career, scoring 19 goals in 71 matches across all competitions.

5) Javier Hernandez

Known by his nickname ‘Chicharito’, the Mexican all-time leading goal scorer was little known before he came to the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. But his ability to score from unusual spaces, poaching ability and not giving defenders a second to react made him a firm fan favourite.

The ‘Little Pea’ scored 59 goals in 157 games across all competitions for the Manchester United before being moved on to Bayer Leverkusen.

4) Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Does this man need any introduction? Zlatan did what he does best; score goals wherever he goes. Even at the age of 35, the Swedish striker scored 28 goals in 46 appearances for the club and in the process, won his first European trophy.

Signed as a free agent on a one-year contract with an option to extend for another year, Manchester United released him after just one season at the club, injury cutting short what was a glorious swan song for the Swede.

3) Robin Van Persie

Robin Van Persie moved to Old Trafford for a fee of approximately £22.5 million, still remains a sore point for Arsenal fans. Whatever the fallout in North London, the Dutchman had a dazzling first season in Manchester, helping his new employers secure another Premier league trophy and the top scorer’s trophy for himself in the process.

But then Sir Alex Ferguson retired and so did the former Arsenal man’s fitness and form, leading to him being sold to Fenerbahce in 2015 for £3.84 million. The Dutchman scored 59 goals in 105 appearances for the club.

2) Ruud van Nistelrooy

Undoubtedly one of United’s most prolific forwards, Van Nistelrooy was a name the defenders feared – The Dutchman could score from anywhere, anytime.  The former PSV man’s transfer was delayed by an injury that could have ended his career.

In typical tenacious fashion, he fought back and made the £18.5 million move the very next season. Some speculated that the transfer fee would weight too heavy on someone untested in the Premier League, but the Dutchman answered his critics emphatically, scoring 150 goals in just 219 games at Old Trafford.

1) Wayne Rooney

Who else it could be other than Wayne Rooney? United’s all-time leading goal scorer and the most decorated forward in the club’s history. Moving from Everton for a little over £25 million, many an eyebrow was raised when Sir Alex Ferguson brought the 18 year-old to Old Trafford.

Any doubts were soon shattered when the teenager helped himself to three goals and an assist in his debut against Fenerbahce. Over 13 seasons the current captain has played multiple roles at the club – second striker, attacking midfielder or forward, and has impressed everywhere.

Whilst his recent decline, brought on in part due to his combative and ‘leave it all on the pitch’ style of play, has lead some to question his legacy, not to mention his future; with 253 goals in 559 games for Manchester United across all competitions, there should be no questions over Rooney’s position as the club’s best forward of this century.

The Author

Shahram Ali

An avid fan of the beautiful game who also happens to love writing about it.

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