There could be plenty of new faces on show when Manchester United’s preparations for the new season get underway against Mexican giants Club America on Friday. The Premier League club will play four matches in the United States as part of the International Champions Cup, starting with the contest in Seattle, before heading to the Bay Area for fixtures against the San Jose Earthquakes and Barcelona and finishing off against Paris Saint-Germain in Chicago.
Interest in the tour has been ratcheted up considerably by a flurry of signings made in the hours before the club headed Stateside on Monday. First came the arrival of Italy right-back Matteo Darmian, before the midfield was given a significant overhaul by the signings of World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich and Southampton’s impressive midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin. All three were immediately named in the traveling party, along with Memphis Depay, who signed from PSV Eindhoven before the end of last season. It already marks a welcome change from last year, when United made many of their signings in the final stages of the transfer window.
“I'm very happy because, in my opinion, they are very good players,” manager Louis van Gaal said at a press conference on Wednesday. “That's why Manchester United have bought them.
“I'm very happy they're here before the tour because we can prepare on the tour all the team elements I have to implement with new players. Also Memphis Depay is here and now the three new signings. It's much better than last year.”
Plenty of headlines have also been made by those players not on the tour. Speculation has continued to surround the futures of Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and Ángel di María, who did not fly out with the rest of the party, due to injury and involvement in the Copa America, respectively. Hernández spent last season on loan at Real Madrid, with Van Gaal deeming him surplus to requirements. However, despite having just a year remaining on his contract and being linked with clubs across Europe and in Major League Soccer, Van Gaal explained that he expects him to join up with the squad before the end of the tour.
“At the time [last summer] we already had four strikers,” he said. “We had [Danny] Welbeck, Chicharito, [Robin] van Persie and [James] Wilson. Then I had to make a decision that I let go Chicharito and also Welbeck because we had also bought [Radamel] Falcao. So when you play a system with two or even one strikers you can have too many strikers. You have to make decisions. One of those decisions was to let Chicharito go. But now he's coming back.”
Di María is also set to join up on July 25, although after a troubled first season in Manchester following his British record £59.7 million transfer from Real Madrid, the United boss couldn’t confirm the Argentinian would be at Old Trafford next season.
“We shall see because in football it’s a process, I have said that already many times,” he said. “It’s a process for Ángel di María, it’s a process for Manchester united and we shall see. For now he’s a member of Manchester united and he has told me he shall come on July 25.”
One man who won’t be taking any part of the club’s preseason in the United States, though, is Victor Valdes. The former Barcelona goalkeeper was only signed on a free transfer in January and was seen by many as a potential replacement if and when David de Gea completes his long-mooted transfer to Real Madrid. But Van Gaal has claimed that Valdes refused to play for the reserve team last season, and will now be sold.
“He’s not selected because he doesn’t follow our philosophy,” Van Gaal said. "Then there is no place for such a player. Philosophy is how you play football and how you maintain your match rhythm, for example he refused to play last year one match in the second team. There are a lot of other aspects of our philosophy and when you are not willing to follow the principles of the philosophy then there is only one way and that is out.”
Manchester United preseason schedule (all times EDT)
Friday, July 17: vs. Club America at 11.05 p.m. (Seattle)
Tuesday, July 21: vs. San Jose Earthquakes at 11.05 p.m. (San Jose, CA)
Saturday, July 25: vs. Barcelona at 4:05 p.m. (Santa Clara, CA)
Wednesday, July 29: vs. Paris Saint-Germain at 9:05 p.m. (Chicago)
Preseason Tour Roster
David de Gea