Between April 2001 and May 2005 he had scored 150 goals in 219 games for the Old Trafford club and Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 247 goals was certainly within reach of the 30-year-old.
But cracks in the marriage between the Dutchman and manager Sir Alex Ferguson began to show with Van Nistelrooy relegated to the substitutes bench for much of the second half of last season.
What actually happened between the pair is not known, but what is fact is that the darling of United is now another ‘Galatico’ in Real Madrid�s collection.
We look at what the future holds for all three parties.
Many believe the catalyst for the rift between Ferguson and Van Nistelrooy was a reported training ground bust-up between the player and team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.
Van Nistelrooy said “nothing happened” but Ronaldo admitted there was a disagreement.
But whatever was the cause, it might have been enough for Ferguson to ultimately hand the striker, he called “the best in Europe“, his P45.
Manchester United, who in Van Nistelrooy had found their first 20 goals-a-season striker since Brian McClair scored 24 League goals during the 1987/88 campaign, will now be dependent on Wayne Rooney, Louis Saha and fit-again Ole Gunnar Solskjaer filling the void.
Other notables who could contribute to the scoring chores are South Korean Ji-Sung Park and new acquisition Dong Fangzhou of China. Ji has particularly been showing great promise as he has been consistent with his performance.