In an ideal world, Louis van Gaal admits he would have liked to have waited until the end of the season before signing Memphis Depay.
The Manchester United head coach knows the forward well from the time they spent together for Holland last summer, when van Gaal led his homeland to the semi-finals of the World Cup. He has continued to monitor Depay over the course of the current campaign, in which he topped the goalscoring charts in Eredivisie whilst firing PSV Eindhoven to the title.
It was confirmed earlier this week that the Reds had tied up a £22million transfer for the 21-year-old, who will make the move official when the transfer window reopens. But van Gaal has now revealed that he didn’t intend to sign Depay just yet and was instead planning to do so in the summer, but had to act quick due to emerging interest from French side Paris Saint Germain.
“I have been forced to sign Depay,” said the Dutch coach. “I didn’t want to sign him before the end of the season. We have to focus on our games. When you sign a player, you disturb the focus of your present group of players. The coming matches are very important, but because of the market, I must handle it (now) – because otherwise he would have signed for PSG.”
Liverpool were also thought to be eager to sign Depay, who scored 21 goals in 28 appearances for PSV this season, with Brendan Rodgers said to have been watching his progress for the past 18 months. It has also been widely reported that the Anfield club had been in talks with the player over a summer transfer, but on Friday the Reds boss denied an interest in his signature.
“It wasn’t something we were ever interested in,” Rodgers replied when asked of his reported interest in Depay. “We already have four wingers at the club and have other priorities. He’s obviously a very talented young player but we have Raheem Sterling, Jordon Ibe, Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic in those positions. We’re well covered, especially on the left-hand side.”
But PSV technical director Michael Brands would appear to have no reason to fabricate the interest from the Merseyside club, and he insists Rodgers was very much keen to land the forward before United beat him to the punch. Brands said: “Liverpool contacted us and talked with the player. They were also one of the clubs interested but at the end Memphis chose Manchester United.”
Meanwhile, United can take a huge step to claiming a top-four finish over Liverpool on Saturday evening when they travel to the capital to face Crystal Palace. If van Gaal’s side can record a win at Selhurst Park, it would require their North West rivals to do likewise on Sunday afternoon, after they give newly-crowned champions Chelsea a guard of honour at Stamford Bridge.
How important will Memphis Depay be for Manchester United next season, and who else do you expect Louis van Gaal to bring in this summer?