Former Manchester United Louis van Gaal says Robert Lewandowski, Neymar, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and James Milner were among the players he tried to sign during his spell at Old Trafford.
The Dutch coach was handed the Red Devils reins in 2014, with the Premier League giants turning to a proven performer after their failed experiment with David Moyes.
Van Gaal arrived at the club with big ambition and wanted that to be shown by United in their recruitment business, but he ended up being frustrated.
Discussing those he targeted with FourFourTwo, Van Gaal made a list of 10 names: “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 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 multi-functional 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.
“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.”
The biggest deal by Van Gaal saw United sign Angel di Maria away from Real Madrid in what was considered a major coup, but the Argentine star flopped and lasted only one campaign in England.
Luke Shaw was also signed in Van Gaal’s first summer, along with Ander Herrera, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, while former Barca keeper Victor Valdes joined the club in January 2015.
Van Gaal’s second year with United delivered FA Cup glory and a premature exit, it also saw him acquire Memphis Depay, Matteo Darmian, Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Sergio Romero.