Louis Van Gaal told he can break world transfer record at United

Ed Woodward claims £750m Adidas deal makes club the world’s biggest

Louis van Gaal: wants Mats Hummels, Daley Blind and Stefan de Vrij among others. Photograph: PA.

Louis van Gaal: wants Mats Hummels, Daley Blind and Stefan de Vrij among others. Photograph: PA.

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 10:55

Louis van Gaal has been told he is free to break the world transfer record to bring the right player to Manchester United.

Last year Real Madrid set the record by signing Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur for £86 million, eclipsing the £80 million they had paid United four years earlier for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Van Gaal, who will take charge of United for the first time tonight in a friendly against LA Galaxy, has been told his transfer activity will not be constrained by money.

“It’s difficult to deal in hypotheticals based on lots of different things,” Ed Woodward said. “The reality is that we’re not afraid of spending significant amounts of money in the transfer market.”

The club’s executive vice-chairman added: “Whether it’s a record or not doesn’t really resonate with us. What resonates is an elite player that the manager wants who is going to be a star for Manchester United.”

United have already paid £27 million for Southampton’s Luke Shaw and £28.5 million for Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera. The £37.5 million paid to Chelsea for Juan Mata in January is a United club record but Woodward says United will not be put off spending what it takes to secure the players of Van Gaal’s choice.

“Of course it’s in our capabilities,” he said. “I get pointed in the direction of a target that the manager wants and there is an assessment of what that might cost and I’ll negotiate hard to do the best I can.

‘Ultimate decision’

“I stand by what I said – there is no budget. We are in a very strong financial position. We can make big signings. That doesn’t mean we go and throw money around. Louis is the manager. We have a lot of scouting output through the last 12 months, flagging up various things to us. Louis is the one that makes the ultimate decision around who he wants in the squad.”

Although Van Gaal wants to assess the squad, Woodward says no time is being lost with regard to signings. “We’re still looking at options. We’re not sitting on our hands waiting for Louis. He is very good at communicating clearly what he wants.”

With Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic having left, United need at least one central defender, potentially another left-back, and are still chasing another central midfielder.

Mats Hummels is wanted by Van Gaal, as is the Ajax midfielder Daley Blind, the Feyenoord defender Stefan de Vrij and Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen. The United manager is an admirer of Roma’s Kevin Strootman, though the midfielder is recovering from a knee injury so any transfer may not occur until January.

While United understand Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria is for sale he is not currently being considered.

Woodward said the record £750 million kit deal signed with Adidas is evidence that despite United not being in Europe next season, they are the world’s biggest club.

“What we’re seeing with everything we’re doing from a commercial perspective, talking to agents, talking from a player’s perspective about wanting to come to us, we are the biggest club in the world, there’s no question about that,” he said.

Woodward admits that his first 12 months in charge of United following David Gill’s resignation as the chief executive have been trying. Yet he believes Van Gaal has restored the aura to the 20-times champions that was lost under David Moyes.

“It was a challenging year. In an ideal situation I would have worked with Alex [Ferguson] for a year. I feel a lot more positivity in terms of this coming season.”

After Van Gaal mentioned the club’s commercial links at his unveiling, Woodward denied these were an issue for the manager. “We are a different-sized club. You have not experienced what being a Manchester United manager is until you have been Manchester United manager.” Guardian Service

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