Louis van Gaal has lifted the lid on 10 transfer targets he wanted to bring to Old Trafford during his time as Manchester United boss – but he was unable to sign any of them.
The Dutchman took over from David Moyes on a three-year deal in 2014 and was faced with rejuvenating what he described at the time as a “broken” Red Devils squad.
Van Gaal quickly got to work in the transfer market, signing Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo before breaking the record transfer fee paid by an English club with the £59.7million signing of Angel Di Maria from Real Madrid.
And although he spent £150million in his first transfer window alone, Van Gaal claims there were a number of big-name signings he missed out on.
“I wanted Robert Lewandowski, but when this proved difficult I tried to get Gonzalo Higuain instead,” Van Gaal told FourFourTwo.
“Before I had arrived, 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 building from the back.”
Though United finished in the Champions League places during Val Gaal’s first season in charge, they slipped out of the top four in the 2015/16 campaign.
Reflecting on the failure to bring his priority targets to Old Trafford, the former Netherlands boss bemoaned not have a hands-on role in negotiations.
Van Gaal added: “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 Kante ended up at Manchester City and Chelsea, while United couldn’t get them. I found that very odd.”