Shinji Kagawa may be the first Japanese player to join United, but the country's growing football profile (ranked 23 in the world – up from 43 in 2009) means there's a fair chance others will follow in the future. Even so, it will take Japan a long time to catch up with those who have provided the most foreign Reds.
Here, we take a look at the top five providers of overseas United talent...
FRANCE (10 players)
From the five-year majesty of Eric Cantona to the familiar sight of Patrice Evra, via the short-lived 1995 trial of William Prunier, there has been a Gallic flavour to United’s squad for 20 years. King Eric’s achievements hardly need recounting: 82 goals in 185 appearances, the catalyst for a long-awaited title, inspirational and supremely talented; his legacy lives on. Current deputy captain Evra has been a mainstay at left-back for half-a-dozen years and he’s accompanied by talented youngster Paul Pogba in today’s squad. Versatile defender Mikael Silvestre made more than 350 appearances over a decade and centre-back Laurent Blanc still exuded class when he arrived in 2001 at the age of 35. Fleet-footed noughties widemen David Bellion and Gabriel Obertan never quite broke through, while striker Louis Saha’s four-year spell lurched from unplayable highs to maddening injury lows. And we'll never forget the entertainment provided at the turn of the millennium by showman goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.
Total appearances: 1111 Total goals: 148
Going Dutch in the transfer market has been a hugely profitable business for United. Arnold Muhren was the first Netherlands export to arrive at Old Trafford, via Ipswich, and the gifted little wand-waver injected some Total Football into United’s play under Ron Atkinson. A dose of