Former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has revealed the 10 players he tried – and failed – to bring to Old Trafford during his time in charge of the club.
Much has been made of United’s failed recruitment in recent years, with David Moyes revealing earlier this year that he tried to sign Toni Kroos, Gareth Bale and Cesc Fabregas.
Moyes left the club in April 2014 and was replaced by Van Gaal who, like Moyes, attempted to overhaul the squad.
The Dutchman spent £150 million in his first transfer window, bringing in Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo before breaking the record fee paid by an English club with the £59.7million signing of Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria.
And if Van Gaal had his way, several more high-profile names would have arrived at the club during his tenure.
In an interview with FourFourTwo, the 69-year-old revealed the list of targets he had drawn up.
“I wanted Robert Lewandowski, but when this proved difficult I tried to get Gonzalo Higuain instead,” Van Gaal said.
“Before I had arrived, I also spoke with the board about Neymar. If you are at United, you have to think big. He was also interesting for the club in terms of selling shirts, and I wanted to have quick wingers. For that reason, I also tried to get Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez.”
Liverpool snapped up Mane in 2016 and the Senegalese forward has since helped the Reds win the Champions League and the Premier League.
On his midfield targets, Van Gaal added: “Thomas Muller was on my wish list, too, and in central midfield I wanted N’Golo Kante. I even tried to sign James Milner, who was already quite old but very multifunctional and possessed leadership skills.
“For the defence, I wanted Sergio Ramos and Mats Hummels, because ours wasn’t the strongest in building from the back.”
Van Gaal led Man United to fourth place in his first season but they slipped out of the Champions League spots in 2015/16, leading to his dismissal.
The Dutch coach went on to lament his lack of involvement in transfer negotiations at the club.
“Those were my top targets, but we couldn’t get any of them. I don’t know why, because as the manager I wasn’t involved in any negotiations,” he continued.
“After I left, players like Mahrez and Kante ended up at Manchester City and Chelsea, while United couldn’t get them. I found that very odd.”
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