Van Gaal looks for creativity to get Rooney back on target
Louis van Gaal has admitted that his summer priority is to recruit a world-class midfielder who will enable Wayne Rooney to return to his favoured attacking position at Manchester United.
Van Gaal, whose team face Preston North End in an FA Cup fifth-round tie at Deepdale tonight, has deployed Rooney in a central midfield role since the turn of the year in an effort to ease concerns over an imbalance of options in that key area.
The United manager considered a move for the Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal last summer before abandoning plans to sign the Chilean due to concerns over the player's recent knee injury.
Van Gaal is also monitoring the performances of the Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman - who is sidelined with a knee injury - and Paul Pogba, the French midfielder who left United in 2012 to sign for Juventus.
With Rooney failing to register a shot on target in 2015, Van Gaal has admitted that the England captain is only a short-term solution to a long-standing problem at United.
When asked whether his main objective this summer is to sign a commanding midfielder, Van Gaal said, "Yes, of course. I'm looking for balance and I need it in midfield. In the last games, I played with Adnan Januzaj and Angel Di Maria in the midfield positions and you need a certain balance for those kind of creative players."
Despite Rooney's diminished goal threat in midfield - his goal drought now stands at nine games, dating back to his two goals against Newcastle United on St Stephen's Day - Van Gaal insisted that the United captain was not troubled by playing out of position. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Preston North End v Manchester United, live, BBC 1, 7.45pm