Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben has revealed that Manchester United would be top of his transfer wishlist if he wasn't happy in Bavaria, because manager Louis van Gaal has qualities that few coaches across the world can match.
Robben has worked with Van Gaal at club and international level, both times building a strong relationship that allowed the pair to thrive.
The 31-year-old is convinced that Van Gaal will be a success at United if given time, because in his case he knew exactly what it took to bring the very best out of a talented but inconsistent performer at the highest level.
Van Gaal has a huge fan in Robben
In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Mail the subject of Van Gaal was brought up quickly, with Robben sharing his thoughts on a coach who believes has fantastic powers of motivation.
Robben said: "From the first day he made me feel important. He gave me an important role and I had a great first year. I am very thankful to him. He is a coach who makes individual players better. That is rare nowadays.
United move could have materialised under different circumstances
"I have a lot of confidence he will be a success. He needs time to build his team. When he qualifies for the Champions League — and he has a realistic chance of winning the FA Cup — if that happens, he has had a great season.
"The life I have with my family is so good, the team has been successful. If things were not going so well, maybe (joining United) would be the first option. But he knows I am happy."
Relationship with Mourinho discussed
Robben also touched on a promising but frustrating spell at Chelsea early in his career, where the speed demon burst onto the scene and won a Premier League title but was blighted by a succession of injury problems.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was just at the beginning of his fantastic first spell in charge when a young Robben came to the fore in West London, but injuries stopped the Dutchman being a sustained part of his success.
Robben is adamant that his spell on the sidelines didn't place a strain on his relationship with Mourinho, insisting he played a vital role in his development as a player.
He said: "He was very fair, very good,' he replies. 'The only problem was the injuries. He could not count on me. It was frustrating for both of us and it became difficult. But in a football point of view, he was very important. He helped me mentally."
Window of opportunity for Prem return has closed
A remarkably consistent Robben has matured like a fine wine at Bayern, finally finding the right conditions both physically and mentally to maximise his talent.
Under different circumstances a driven character like Robben would feel the itch to come back to England and prove he's a genuine superstar a decade on from a disappointing Chelsea exit, but he's so settled at Bayern there's no chance of that happening now.
Robben's tone suggest Van Gaal had a crack at persuading the veteran to join United last summer, but that ship has sailed and barring a drastic change at Bayern he'll spend the rest of his top-level career playing for another world-class coach in Pep Guardiola.
Man United fans, how much would you have loved to see Robben sign last summer? Does his thought on Van Gaal offer you hope of a big improvement next season? Let us know by having your say in the comment box below.
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