No, Louis van Gaal isn’t officially Manchester United manager yet, but that announcement is a coming. According to reports, the Red Devils are waiting to unveil their new boss until the Dutch national team has an off day. The Oranje, who van Gaal will coach at this summer’s World Cup, will have Sunday and Monday off as they shift camp to Portugal, meaning United’s announcement should happen within the next four days.
In the interim, preparations for the summer transfer window have begun, with The Guardian reporting the boss-to-be has already handed a list of targets to club chief executive Ed Woodward. No surprise, given van Gaal’s recent history, a majority of his preferred targets play in the Bundesliga, with three of his five top choices having served under the Dutch coach at Bayern Munich:
Arjen Robben, Bayern – One of van Gaal’s two captains for Brazil, Robben has averaged 11 goals per league season since joining Bayern five years ago. With Chelsea from 2004 to 2007, the right winger scored 15 league goals across three seasons.
Thömas Müller, Bayern – Müller was one of the stars of the last World Cup and has been a mainstay in Munich since 2009. Still only 24, Müller can play as a number nine, a supporting striker, in attacking midfield, or on the wing.
Mats Hummels, Borussia Dortmund – The skilled BVB central defender is a regular in central defense for his country and has won two league titles at Dortmund. Though he’s signed a long-term contract two years ago, central defense is a need for United. For all their talents, neither Phil Jones nor Chris Smalling have established themselves in the middle.
Luke Shaw, Southampton – Last summer it was Leighton Baines, this time it’s Shaw, only this year the Red Devils look more likely to capture their Patrice Evra replacement. Ahead of his first World Cup, Shaw has already been linked with a big money move to Old Trafford, with Southampton on the cashing in on another academy product.
Toni Kroos, Bayern – Kroos is the type of creative midfielder from whom United fans have been pining for years, the absence of which Alex Ferguson was always able to overcome. With Ferguson no longer around to execute his approach, somebody who can play between the forwards and Michael Carrick is needed … not that the team doesn’t already have Shinji Kagawa and Juan Mata.
As Manchester United found out last fall, converting transfer targets into signed players isn’t as easy as handing a list to Ed Woodward, but without Spain’s buyout clauses to worry about with this group, the prohibitive parts will be the fees. The cheapest amongst these players could be anywhere from $20 to $27 million (unless you really believe a left back is worth $40 million), while the most expensive (Müller) could end up over $50 million. And the clubs could very well ask for more.
In total, we’re looking at over $200 million worth of players, a total that would make Florentino Perez blush. Given what’s already in the squad, Müller, Hummels, and Shaw alone would plug a lot of holes.