Louis van Gaal took over following the sacking of David Moyes the previous season and after he guided his native Holland to third place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He would go on spend two seasons at Manchester United and was sacked in 2016 despite winning the FA Cup.
In an interview with FourFourTwo, the Dutch gaffer shed light on the players he wanted during his two-year stint. “I wanted Robert Lewandowski, but when this proved difficult I tried to get Gonzalo Higuain instead. I also spoke with the board about Neymar. If you are at United, you have to think big. He was also interesting for the club in terms of selling shirts, and I wanted to have quick wingers.
For that reason, I also tried to get Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez. Thomas Muller was on my wish list, too, and in central midfield, I wanted N’Golo Kante. I even tried to sign James Milner, who was already quite old but very multifunctional and possessed leadership skills. For the defence, I wanted Sergio Ramos and Mats Hummels, because ours wasn’t the strongest in the building from the back.
Those were my top targets, but we couldn’t get any of them. I don’t know why, because as the manager I wasn’t involved in any negotiations. After I left, players like Mahrez and Kanté ended up at Manchester City and Chelsea, while United couldn’t get them. I found that very odd.”
Louis van Gaal went further to explain the reason why he wanted all the aforementioned players. “I inherited an old team that hadn’t been refreshed for some time and wanted to rejuvenate the squad with players who would bring the same kind of quality.
I met with the United hierarchy in Brussels. Clubs often organise talks in foreign cities so the media can’t track them down easily. The Glazers and Ed Woodward were there, they asked me about everything, including my vision and how I would want to organise things, and said they would meet my needs for new players. But it didn’t happen: we only got third, fourth or fifth-choice players.”