Louis van Gaal
Louis van Gaal is determined for Manchester United to be active in the transfer market before the close of the window. Reuters

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has stated his admiration for reported transfer target Ángel di María, while conceding his squad lacks a winger with the ability of the Real Madrid star. Van Gaal has frequently opened up about the lack of balance he feels exists in the squad he inherited from David Moyes this summer. Less than a week before the start of the Premier League season and with just three weeks left of the transfer window, he has given a clear indication that he is keen to do more business and back up the claims from the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that they are prepared to spend big.

“It is a strategy of Manchester United to do that,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror. “At this moment, we have five No.9s and four No.10s -- and we don’t have wingers to give us attacking width. Or, I should say, we don’t have wingers of the highest level, like Ronaldo or Di María or somebody like that. So, I have to play in another way -- and you have seen that already. I only buy when I think we need to buy -- in the position that is necessary.”

Manchester United’s prospects of landing Di María now look stronger after previous favorites to sign the Argentina international, Paris Saint-Germain pulled out of the race, sighting Madrid’s high asking price. Madrid are believed to be after £55 million for the 26-year-old.

Di María is not the only winger to be linked with a transfer to Manchester United this summer. Also believed to feature prominently among Van Gaal’s list of targets is Fiorentina’s Juan Cuadrado. Barcelona are providing strong competition for his signature, although some reports have claimed that United have pushed ahead with a bid of around €40 million (£32m). The Serie A side have admitted that they may have to let go of a player who starred down the right flank for Colombia during this summer’s World Cup, but will only do so on their terms.

“Should it happen that an important offer arrives, we would have to allow Cuadrado to leave,” Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle said, according to Sky Sports. “So with that I am not so optimistic about a positive final situation as I think an offer will arrive in the next few days, but he will only leave for certain amounts.

“I told the player and underlined things that there is a serious project here and he could remain for one more season, in a winning side. He is honest and serious with us, and I told him if an offer should arrive we would free him. But the deadline is about a week to ten days away -- around Aug. 15 and if there is no adequate period in this period, he will remain.”

If Manchester United are to break their own transfer record this summer, it has long been thought that it would be for Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal. Images showing Vidal signing a fan’s Manchester United shirt in Australia over the weekend have added yet more noise to a transfer saga that has rumbled on throughout the summer. Rumors continue to come thick and fast. Italian publication Tuttosport reports that Vidal’s future will remain in the balance for the next week and that it will take a fee of £50 million to facilitate a deal.

But a priority for Van Gaal before the close of the transfer window at the end of the month remains adding to his defensive options. The United boss’ decision to opt for a formation featuring three center-backs means that he desperately needs to bring in players to vie with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans. After a long pursuit of Thomas Vermaelen fell flat when the former Arsenal captain instead moved to Barcelona, Van Gaal could now move for Ajax’s Daley Blind. The versatile left-footer, who can operate at left-back, left wing-back, defensive midfield and center-back recently admitted he would consider joining his former Netherlands coach at Old Trafford if he came calling. And Van Gaal has revealed that he has a preference for Dutch players.

“If they are at the level I want them to be, then I will sign Dutch players,” he said, reports the Daily Mirror. “Nationality isn’t something that concerns me.

“But Dutch players are usually cheaper than players of other nationalities and they have usually been very well educated in the Netherlands, I believe. But they have to be of a level than can play well in the English Premier League. You have to ask if that is the case with every player.”