Belfast Telegraph

Louis van Gaal: I couldn't afford to delay Memphis Depay deal

By Paul Hirst

Louis van Gaal admits his players may have been distracted by the signing of Memphis Depay - but he insists he had no option but to bring the youngster's transfer to Manchester United forward.

United announced on Thursday that they had agreed to sign Depay from PSV Eindhoven in a £25m deal.

In doing so, Van Gaal was making a break in protocol. The United boss believes signing players when the transfer window shuts can affect the focus of those who are already in his squad, but Van Gaal says he was forced to accelerate his pursuit of the 21-year-old forward as Paris St Germain were ready to swoop for the player.

"I have been forced to sign him," Van Gaal said.

"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 for Manchester United and for all of the players, but because of the market, I must handle it (now) - because otherwise he would have signed for PSG."

Depay was also linked with Liverpool after scoring 21 goals in 28 league games for the newly-crowned Dutch champions, but Van Gaal swung the deal in United's favour due to his close relationship with PSV and the player, to whom he gave his first Holland cap in October 2013.

When asked why he felt Depay was in danger of signing for PSG, Van Gaal said: "Because at that time he was not reached by me.

"I don't want to speak with players before the season has ended, but now, because of the close relationship I have with PSV, I could handle it."

Depay enjoyed a successful World Cup with Holland before going on to become one of the most prolific young strikers in Europe this season.

Van Gaal thinks Depay is a rare talent who will hopefully help his team score more goals next term.

"He's a goalscoring winger and there aren't so many of them in the world," said Van Gaal,.

Van Gaal is known to have a sizeable transfer kitty available to him this summer.

The Dutchman is interested in signing Gareth Bale from Real Madrid. Nathaniel Clyne and Mats Hummels are also on Van Gaal's radar.

Van Gaal is short of options for today's game at Crystal Palace.after Michael Carrick was ruled out for the rest of the season with a calf problem, although he is not the only absentee.

A virus has swept through the squad. Van Gaal has picked it up and several of the players have too, although he refused to go into details.

The good news for Van Gaal is that Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Marcos Rojo are available.

Premier League: Selhurst Pk, Today 5.30 pm (Sky)

C Palace

Man Utd

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