Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United will allow Louis van Gaal to break the bank

By Ian Herbert

Manchester United are prepared to spend another £100m next summer as they continue the overhaul which they believe is needed to take them back to the top of British football.

The club are still deep into the process of establishing a squad with two options for every position, with Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels, Aymeric Laporte of Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid's Diego Godin (all centre-halves) and Southampton right-back Nathaniel Clyne all players who would improve United in weak areas - as well as Roma's attacking midfielder Kevin Strootman.

They will wait until April to decide whether to exercise their right to buy Radamel Falcao outright for £43m and could conceivably take their spending past £250m since David Moyes took over as manager last year. They have spent £125m since September last year, though they are likely only to spend in January if one of their summer targets becomes available.

It is destined to be another summer of churn, with loan players Tom Cleverley, Luis Nani, Javier Hernandez and Wilfried Zaha all likely to leave permanently, along with Anderson and Anders Lindegaard. Around 10 may be shipped out of Old Trafford, paving the way for perhaps four new recruits as Louis van Gaal looks for elite players in every position.

United's readiness to spend underlines the faith that the club has in Van Gaal, despite his rocky start. The stabilisation of the club - who have made the Premier League top four ahead of Monday's trip to third-placed Southampton - in a season when Van Gaal has given debuts to seven academy graduates is seen as vindication of the decision to turn to him in the summer.

Those who do form part of the future include Michael Carrick, for whom a one-year contract extension is likely in the next six months. United have a similar one-way option to extend the 33-year-old's contract by a year that they had with Patrice Evra before he left Old Trafford in the summer. It is unclear whether goalkeeper David de Gea not having signed a new contract is a result of Real Madrid's interest. The club appear to be relaxed about that situation, though they may register Victor Valdes - who is training with United as he tries to come back from a cruciate injury - as a back-up option.

United have still to decide whether to play an overseas friendly next month to compensate for the lack of European football. Van Gaal will drive that decision. The Dutchman's disinclination to play against any lesser side suggests that a warm-weather training camp is more likely.

Belfast Telegraph


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