Manchester United’s signing of Edinson Cavani, 33, went against the club’s traditional reputation of building teams around a young company.
But this isn’t the first time the club famous for the Busby Babes and the Class of 92 have stepped into the 30-something market to give their squad a balance.
Some experiments like Teddy Sheringham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were successful, others like Bastian Schweinsteiger less.
Sports messaging takes a look at United’s record by bringing in some golden oldies.
Manchester United announced the signing of veteran striker Edinson Cavani on Monday
RAIMOND VAN DER GOUW (1996-2002)
Aged 33 when he signed for Vitesse Arnhem.
Sir Alex Ferguson liked a particular type of backing goalie; experienced, selfless and able to get by sitting on the bench most weeks
He cited Van der Gouw as the best example he signed. The Dutchman stayed for six years. He has been tremendous support for Peter Schmeichel and important in the years since the Great Dane left to provide stability as Fergie seeks a successor.
It’s often forgotten that he played eight times in United’s 1999 treble season – and was on the winning side in seven of them.
Raimond Van de Gouw was important for United in the years after Peter Schmeichel left
TEDDY SHERINGHAM (1997-2001)
Aged 31 when he signed from Tottenham.
It was unheard of for Ferguson to sign a striker from the vintage Sheringham, but he made the decision after checking out the player’s dad and noticing that even at middle age Sheringham Snr “didn’t have a choice of fat on him. “.
It turned out to be a clever move. Sheringham never relied on his pace, but his ability on the ball as a No.10 made him a perfect foil for Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Sheringham was teased on the terraces for not winning a trophy at United in his debut season, but that all changed in 1999 when he scored in the FA Cup and Champions League final four days before interval.
His equalizer in the European final against Bayern Munich before selecting the winner for Solskjaer is part of United history and he named his home Camp Nou in memory of the stadium where it all happened.
Teddy Sheringham, celebrating against Bayern Munich at Camp Nou in 1999, was a shrewd move for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side given their triple success that year.
LAURENT BLANC (2001-03)
Aged 35 when he signed from Inter Milan.
The Frenchman was dubbed ‘Larry White’ by the Stretford End and was seen as a big help for Rio Ferdinand when he arrived at United.
But despite that, and being loyally defended by Ferguson, Blanc’s performance was that of a half-center that was above the hill. His legs were gone and United looked trembling in the back when he played.
Once big with Barcelona, Marseille and France, Blanc took top honors at United but had to be thankful that the team had strong firepower on the other end. The results against Newcastle in their final season, wins 5-3 and 6-2, highlighted their strengths and weaknesses.
Frenchman Laurent Blanc’s performances were that of a center-back who was over the hill
EDWIN VAN DER SAR (2005-11)
Aged 34 when he signed at Fulham.
It is still a mystery how a goalkeeper of Van der Sar’s quality – he won the Champions League with Ajax and reached the World Cup semi-finals for Holland – was allowed to pass. four years at Fulham without a bigger club coming to replace him.
Ferguson finally took the plunge in 2005 after trying a series of goalkeepers to replace Schmeichel and the calming effect on United’s defense was immediate.
Van der Sar leads Schmeichel closely as the greatest goalkeeper in the club’s history and his stoppage of Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea helped United to win the 2008 Champions League in a penalty shootout.
“That penalty save elevated Edwin alongside Peter,” United goalkeeper coach Eric Steele said.
The calming effect goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar brought to United’s defense was immediate – he saved that Nicolas Anelka penalty as United won the 2008 Champions League.
HENRIK LARSSON (2007)
Aged 35 when he signed a loan from Helsingborgs.
He left late to play in the Premier League, but played a wonderful cameo for two months in the Swedish offseason, helping United to claim the title.
Larsson has scored three goals in 13 games, but it was his partnership to get the most out of Wayne Rooney that was truly memorable.
Although famous for his goals at Celtic and Barcelona, it was his selfless team play that made him popular in United’s dressing room. And he left in style, scoring a goal against Lille in his last appearance at Old Trafford in March to put United in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Henrik Larsson played a wonderful two-month cameo to help United win the Premier League
BASTIAN SCHWEINSTEIGER (2015-17)
Aged 30 when he signed from Bayern Munich.
Once the power of the Champions League and World Cup winning teams, Schweinsteiger had slowed alarmingly when he was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2015.
He had just turned 31 when he made his United debut against Tottenham, but only made 13 Premier League starts in almost two years at Old Trafford before moving to MLS.
United tried to sell the German almost as Jose Mourinho walked through the door. The pace at which the midfielder wanted to play was not suited to the Premier League.
When they couldn’t, he was ordered to train with the Under 23s. Mourinho later admitted he regretted what had happened to someone of Schweinsteiger’s reputation.
“He’s in the player category, I’m sorry for something I did to him,” Mourinho said.
The pace Bastian Schweinsteiger wanted to play was not suited to the Premier League
VICTOR VALDES (2015-16)
Aged 33 when he signed from Barcelona.
One of the most decorated goalkeepers in the world upon his arrival, Valdes never changed David de Gea from first place at United and fell out with Louis van Gaal as a result.
After 12 months he was sent on loan to Standard Liege and six months later he joined Middlesbrough with his only two appearances for United ending in draws.
Having been forced to train alone at United at times, he couldn’t resist a little dig at Van Gaal after his departure. “I feel like a professional footballer again,” he said.
Both strong personalities, a clash with the manager was still on the cards once Valdes failed to get into the first team. It wasn’t going to work for someone who had won multiple Champions League titles at Camp Nou.
Victor Valdes never changed David de Gea from first place and fell out with Louis van Gaal
ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC (2016-18)
Aged 34 when he joined PSG.
Like Eric Cantona, the Old Trafford scene matched his ego and temper perfectly, not to mention his exceptional ability.
For Ibrahimovic, scoring 28 goals in his only full season at United was a remarkable achievement, especially since Mourinho’s side were by no means the finished article.
The Swede practically won the 2017 League Cup final against Southampton alone, scoring twice in a 3-2 win at United – the first with a beaming free kick.
It’s just a shame he suffered a serious knee injury towards the end of the campaign which effectively ended his time at Old Trafford. “I’m a lion, not a human,” said the notoriously shameless Swede with a glint in his eyes. At United, he has also taken the step.
The Old Trafford scene perfectly suited Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ego, temperament and abilities
ODION IGHALO (2020)
Aged 30 when on loan from Shanghai Shenhua.
As with Cavani, eyebrows were raised when United looked to China to take the ex-Watford forward as a short-term solution to an injury crisis they were facing in early 2020.
The Nigerian has never started or scored in a Premier League game but has done well in knockout competitions, scoring five goals in the FA Cup and Europa League and showing that he is still a good finisher.
Cavani’s signing means he will return to his parent club in January.
Odion Ighalo has done well for United in knockout competitions after surprise arrival
* Low-level goalkeepers Tony Coton, Andy Goram, Ricardo and Lee Grant are the other players United signed at the age of 30 during the Premier League era. Strikers Robin van Persie (hit) and Michael Owen (miss) were 29 when they were signed. Falcao (miss) was 28 years old.