The Dutchman is still waiting to be confirmed as David Moyes’s successor but that has not stopped him ploughing ahead with plans to revamp the Old Trafford side’s playing squad
By Greg Stobart
When Louis van Gaal is finally appointed as the new Manchester United manager, he will hope that the club show more urgency in the transfer market than they have in confirming the Dutchman as David Moyes’ successor.
The Netherlands coach agreed nearly three weeks ago to take over at Old Trafford after the World Cup, but United are yet to confirm the deal after delays largely down to negotiations concerning the make-up of Van Gaal’s backroom team.
Van Gaal has now held several phone conversations with senior figures from United, as well as at least two face-to-face meetings, including the one at the 62-year-old’s Algarve villa last month, when the deal was agreed for him to become the new United boss.
During those meetings, Van Gaal has proposed in great detail his plans for the club. He has laid out his targets for the next three years, his tactical vision, his view on naturing youngsters from the academy and his opinion on the current make-up of the squad.
It was Van Gaal, for example, who ultimately decided that Rio Ferdinand should not be offered a new contract, with the veteran defender’s departure confirmed on Monday after 12 years at Old Trafford.
United could only finish seventh this season with the worst Premier League points total in the club’s history following a miserable nine months under Moyes, the hand-picked replacement of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Naturally, much of the talk between Van Gaal and the United hierarchy has centred on how to get the squad back in the Champions League and competing for titles as soon as possible.
The Glazer family, the United owners, had already made around €180 million available to spend in the transfer market this summer before the decision to sack Moyes.
Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, will take ultimate responsibility for United’s success – or lack thereof – in recruiting players this summer.
Woodward was largely blamed for the failure to land several targets last summer before United spent £27.5m on Marouane Fellaini – £4m above his buyout clause – on the final day of the transfer window.
Van Gaal has strongly approved United’s plans to press ahead with the pursuit of transfer targets identified by Moyes and the club’s revamped scouting team as they target at least five big-money summer signings.
For example, United had already put in plenty of groundwork in their proposed move for Southampton left-back Luke Shaw. An official bid believed to be worth £27 million was lodged for the midfielder after the final league game of the season at St Mary’s while Shaw’s representatives have agreed a salary package worth around £100,000-a-week.
Likewise, United hope that Van Gaal’s imminent arrival will help with their attempts to lure playmaker Toni Kroos away from German champions Bayern Munich. The 22-year-old could earn €245,000-a-week at United but Bayern are so far insistent that he will not be sold, despite having just a year left on his contract.
Van Gaal, meanwhile, has also made his own suggestions for how the squad has been improved. Kevin Strootman, the Roma midfielder, is one of Van Gaal’s favourite players and he has been urging United to move for his compatriot despite the knee injury that has ruled the 24-year-old out of the World Cup.
Strootman has the drive and box-to-box qualities that United expected from Fellaini and is seen by Van Gaal, with whom he has an excellent relationship, as the perfect complement for the club’s more creative players. Van Gaal also strongly pushed the case for Strootman in talks with Tottenham before the United job became available.
With Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic both leaving United this summer, a top class central defender has also become a major priority. Van Gaal wants Mat Hummels, the Borussia Dortmund centre-back, to come in as the leader of his defence and the 25-year-old is understood to be keen to move to Old Trafford.
Van Gaal also believes Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani would be a perfect fit for the Premier League and United are confident they can sign the Uruguayan this summer, despite the fact he only moved to the French capital last year in a £55m deal.
Elsewhere, the likes of William Carvalho, Thomas Muller and Marco Reus have all been mentioned as potential targets as United prepare for an unprecedented summer of spending.
Not only are Manchester United getting a new manager, but they are virtually getting a new team.