2013/14 English Premier League
While Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa's arrivals at Manchester United in the summer of 2012 were greeted with knowing nods, the £4 million signing of a relatively unknown Dutch left-back named Alexander Buttner was a real eyebrow raiser. It was not just in England where the move was greeted with surprise, as journalists in the defender's native Netherlands questioned exactly why Sir Alex Ferguson had swooped for a player reportedly described by Red Devils scout Ed van Stijn as "only 3rd or 4th best left-back in Holland".
However, Ferguson maintained that, despite being heavily linked with Everton's Leighton Baines throughout the summer, Buttner had been a man on his radar for some time. "Alexander is one of the best young left-backs in Europe and we're delighted to sign him," Ferguson said. "He's someone we've been watching for a while now. He gives us some really exciting options in that position."
Receiving his early football education at the famed Ajax academy, Buttner was released at 16 but quickly found a home at Vitesse Arnhem, making his debut for the club in the 2007-08 season and becoming a first-team regular the following campaign. He continued to improve year on year and after an impressive 2011-12 - in which he scored five goals in 32 Eredivisie games - he was called up to the Netherlands preliminary squad for Euro 2012. He was to face disappointment as PSV teenager Jetro Willems was picked ahead of him for the tournament but after a proposed move to Premier League side Southampton fell through at the beginning of the summer there was to be an upturn in fortunes as he completed a £4 million switch to United, penning a five-year deal with the three-time European champions.
Bought to give Patrice Evra some decent competition at left-back for the first time since Gabriel Heinze departed the club in 2007, Buttner arrived from Vitesse as a player with a number of similarities to the man he will be battling for a place on the left side of United's back four. Full of pace, and having started his career playing further forward, Buttner was younger (23) than Evra was when he first came to United and has time on his side to be moulded into the sort of model of consistency the Frenchman has been through much of his career at Old Trafford.
Strengths: Fearless in attack, Buttner loves to take on players - often demonstrating an array of tricks and feints to get past his man and either work a goalscoring chance for himself or provide a cross for his team-mates.
Weaknesses: Still defensively "raw" - as Sir Alex Ferguson described him after his debut - Buttner's past as left midfielder means he still has plenty to learn about his duties at the back. Lacks positional discipline in the same way Evra did at the start of his United career.
Career high: Scoring a fine individual goal on his Manchester United debut against Wigan in front of a packed Old Trafford.
Career low: Being overlooked for the Netherlands Euro 2012 squad after being included in Bert van Marwijk's provisional selection.
Style: A marauding, attacking left-back with a penchant for a mazy forward dribble.
Quotes: "People will love him because he gives absolutely everything. Don't worry about that; he'll never let you down. He likes to go forward and try to score. He has a powerful kick, a very good left foot and he puts in some good crosses, too. He has a lot of energy and he's good for team spirit. He's so excited about joining United. Having got the chance, he really wants to go for it." Former Manchester United goalkeeper and current Vitesse coach Raimond van der Gouw on Buttner's move to Old Trafford.
Trivia: Buttner has become close friends with compatriot Robin van Persie since arriving in Manchester and was seen attending an Alicia Keys concert with his fellow Dutchman in September 2012.
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE