Former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has revealed he tried to sign Robert Lewandowski, Neymar and Gonzalo Higuain during his spell as Manchester United’s manager. The Dutchman was appointed United manager in the summer of 2014 after David Moyes was sacked towards the end of the previous season. He also revealed how he almost became a Tottenham Hotspur manager instead of taking on a job at Old Trafford.
Louis van Gaal said “I wanted Robert Lewandowski, but when this proved difficult I tried to get Gonzalo Higuain instead, 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 Mané and Riyad Mahrez. Thomas Muller was on my wish list, too, and in central midfield, I wanted N’Golo Kanté. 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 said “It definitely was. Daniel Levy flew into Holland with a private jet and came to my house, where we spoke for several hours. He even stayed on to watch the Southampton-Spurs match later that afternoon [which Spurs won 3-2]. He asked for my thoughts about that game, so that was a kind of test as well. When Levy wanted to leave in the evening, I noticed there were TV cameras outside my house. A Dutch broadcaster had heard that he was in Holland, and guessed he would be here for me. As we wanted to keep it quiet, I called my neighbour to ask whether he could take him away in his car. As they did, with Levy hiding in the back seat, I opened my front door and approached the reporters to ask what they were doing. It worked out very well – they were taken by surprise. As a coach, timing is everything! [Laughs] But it took Spurs a long time to make a firm offer, and United approached me in the meantime. They acted far quicker.”
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