Louis van Gaal may not yet have been officially appointed as Manchester United manager, but the speculation as to who the Dutch coach will sign upon his arrival is already in full swing.
According to widespread reports, Van Gaal is close to being confirmed as David Moyes’s successor. An announcement is expected in the coming days, with the Netherlands boss having to focus on preparations for the World Cup. It remains to be seen how much the competition will hamper the 62-year-old’s plans for reshaping a Manchester United squad that has underperformed dramatically this season. Reports of a new manager having as much as £200 million to spend are likely to prove wide of the mark given the history of the Glazers’ ownership, yet it is expected that there will be more finds than usual made available.
Predictably there are rumors that Van Gaal will initially turn to players with which he has previously worked. The Sun has gone big with their claim that Arjen Robben, signed by Van Gaal while at Bayern in 2009 and with whom he now works in the Dutch setup, will be the first target. The tabloid believes that a £25 million deal could be on the cards. Spending such a sum on a 30-year-old with little sell-on potential would break with the policy at Old Trafford, although that has happened before with the transfer of Robin van Persie.
Whether Robben would want to leave Champions League action and the German champions for Old Trafford and whether Bayern would be willing to sell appears highly doubtful, however. The same can be said regarding the Daily Mail’s report that it is Robben’s Bayern teammate Thomas Muller who will be Van Gaal’s primary target.
The versatile attacker, who broke through as a regular in the Bayern side under Van Gaal, could potentially be considering other options having not always been a guaranteed starter under Pep Guardiola. Still, while not the archetypal Guardiola-style player and beginning the first leg of the Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid on the bench, the Germany international has still started a healthy 24 Bundesliga games this season and eight more in the Champions League. A rumored £37 million transfer looks a long shot.
Staying in Germany, the Daily Star is of the belief that Van Gaal is keen on signing Borussia Dortmund center-back Mats Hummels. United will be looking for a central defender, with Nemanja Vidic already having agreed to leave the club at the end of his contract this summer and Rio Ferdinand possibly set to follow suit. Hummels, 25, is likely to prove extremely difficult to prize away from Dortmund, however, with the Bundesliga side already having lost star striker Robert Lewandowski and determined to keep the rest of their squad together.
The Manchester club is thought to have been at advanced stages of several transfers before Moyes’s departure, none more so than that involving Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho. Some reports had even claimed that a deal had already been agreed to take the 22-year-old midfielder to Old Trafford. It remains to be seen if United’s interest remains for a player who has a release clause of €45 million (£36.9m), but Sporting claim that they expect him to stay with them.
“There is nothing inevitable,” president Bruno de Carvalho said, according to Sky Sports. “I am almost certain, if not absolutely certain, that William will continue at Sporting. You never know when a club might appear and be interested in taking him by paying the release clause. Now, William is very satisfied, he is happy and so are we.”