Friday 28 October 2016

Louis van Gaal: No players will want out if we don't reach Champions League

Published 15/04/2016 | 12:41

A trip to the hairdressers has convinced Louis van Gaal of his popularity
A trip to the hairdressers has convinced Louis van Gaal of his popularity

Louis van Gaal does not expect any Manchester United player to agitate for an exit if the club fail to reach the Champions League.

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The current crop are looking to avoid the ignominy of missing out on a place at European football's top table, just as David Moyes' side did following a miserable 2013/14 campaign.

United head into Saturday's clash with rudderless Aston Villa four points shy of fourth-placed Manchester City, but even usurping their neighbours may not be enough to secure Champions League football.

A maximum of five teams from one league can qualify for the competition, meaning if City and Liverpool both finish outside the top four but seal European glory then fourth spot would become a Europa League berth.

That would be a gut punch but Van Gaal is confident United would recover, especially as the manager does not expect any player to want to leave if they miss out on the Champions League.

"There is not any player who wants to go away, I think," the Dutchman said.

"And when another club wants to pay the figures that the board of Manchester United demand, then it is possible.

"But that is dependent on the board, of the decision of the board if a player can go."

Asked again whether players would want to leave for Champions League football, Van Gaal added: "I don't think so, I don't think so.

"But, of course, you have to ask the players, but the players are the participants of every week's match."

Certainly few could afford to acquire United's top talent, but missing out on the Champions League would likely kick-start Real Madrid's interest in David de Gea.

Madrid were willing to part with £29million and Keylor Navas to sign the goalkeeper last summer, but the relevant paperwork was not completed before the 11pm deadline.

De Gea subsequently signed a new four-year deal at United - a development that appears to have made Van Gaal forget the fact his star player was ready to quit the club.

"You have said that he is going to Real Madrid," he said. "I have said always that he stays. You remember that?

"And now you are asking how long he has to stay? Come on. First you have to say: 'Okay, sorry that I have written that. Sorry.'

"Ask him, ask him. Maybe he said something about that. But not to me."

Put to Van Gaal that the goalkeeper nearly joined Real Madrid, he retorted: "Oh yeah? You think so. Okay.

"You have all the evidence of that? You have spoken with Mr Perez and Mr Woodward about that matter?"

They were strange comments from Van Gaal given United made a statement at the time outlining why De Gea's move collapsed in response to Madrid issuing their own.

For now, though, the 25-year-old remains a key figure at United, with his fine display at Upton Park helping the side progress to the FA Cup semi-finals.

De Gea made a number of impressive saves as the Reds Devils won Wednesday's quarter-final replay against West Ham 2-1, setting up a potentially exciting end to a frustrating campaign.

"I have said for the club it is much more important that we are ending in the first four," Van Gaal said.

"The Champions League is the highest level and a club like Manchester United has to show the abilities and qualities at the highest level.

"A trophy is, of course, fantastic and especially the FA Cup because it is a lot of years that we didn't win this cup.

"So for Manchester United and when you see the happiness of the fans (it is important).

"I'm not so much in the streets but I went to the hairdresser - you can see it.

"I walked to the hairdresser and all the people and the cars are stopping and people want to take pictures again.

"It is unbelievable. It is unbelievable - with the old haircut.

"This is a big arousal under the fans and that is nice to see because they are hungry also for the FA Cup, I think, but still you have to first beat Everton."

Press Association

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