De Gea improved during Van Gaal's tenure.

3 players Louis van Gaal improved at Manchester United

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Louis van Gaal is gone, but that is not to say his legacy will not live on at Manchester United.

The Dutchman, who was axed after helping the club win the FA Cup, will walk away with his head held high after coaxing some great performances from seemingly waning players.

Here, GiveMeSport will look at the three players who were at United when he signed and whose performances have improved in the two years since he first took charge.


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Chris Smalling

There came a time where the thought of Chris Smalling being a regular for United for years to come seemed unfathomable.

However, the defender has blossomed under the Dutchman and will now almost certainly be a starter for Roy Hodgson’s England at the European Championships in France this summer.

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Smalling, a £10million signing from Fulham in 2010, has had years of inconsistent performances but in the last two has grown into one of the most consistent and reliable defenders in the Premier League.

He helped United concede just 35 goals from their 38 league games this season – the joint-best with third-placed Tottenham Hotspur – and donned the captain’s armband on numerous occasions the season just gone.

Smalling could now be a key lieutenant under Jose Mourinho once the Portuguese is finally unveiled as the club’s next manager.

David de Gea

Yes, David de Gea was great under Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes. But the Spaniard is now one of the best goalkeepers in world football, and has developed into a stunning shotstopper under Van Gaal.

The 25-year-old, who arrived a scrawny youngster, has been transformed into a goalkeeper capable of producing the same fine displays as Peter Schmeichel and Edwin van der Sar during their time at Old Trafford.

He helped the club finish in the top four in Van Gaal’s first season, before a lengthy transfer saga involving Real Madrid, their goalkeeper Keylor Navas and both clubs’ fax machines ensued in the summer.

However, he has put that behind him and kept 15 clean sheets from his 34 games for the club this season.

The arrival of Mourinho should prove to be a sweetener in keeping him at the club and thwarting Madrid’s efforts to sign him once again.


Ashley Young

People forget that, just a year ago, Ashley Young was good enough to keep Angel Di Maria out of the side.

The ex-Aston Villa winger, who struggled under Ferguson and Moyes, became a key member of the squad under Van Gaal.

He is now a far more versatile individual than many thought, having occupied roles in both attack and defence over the course of the two years.

Young remains short of the quality than United fans desire but his ability to play in a number of different positions could lead to him staying.

Mourinho is known to favour flexible players and Young could be another player to continue to grow from strength to strength under the Portuguese.

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