Louis van Gaal: Manchester United had to sign Memphis early due to PSG interest

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Early May is a curious time for a transfer swoop, and Friday found Louis van Gaal discussing the Red Devils’ $40ish million move for PSV Eindhoven star Memphis Depay.

The move will go through in June, and Memphis could’ve easily wound up in France if not for Van Gaal’s connections at PSV. Paris Saint-Germain was in hot pursuit, so Van Gaal broke from routine to pick up the Eredivisie’s leading scorer.

“He’s a goalscoring winger and there aren’t so many of them in the world,” Van Gaal said on United’s web site. “[Lionel] Messi is one of those but now I think we have to talk about the game against Crystal Palace and we have to focus on this and the coming three games. That’s more important.

[ MORE: Depay talks “dream move” | Highlights ]

The 21-year-old winger has 21 goals this season, and was on Van Gaal’s World Cup side for the Netherlands last summer. After the tournament, reports came out that Van Gaal wanted Memphis to spend one more season at PSV before joining him in the Premier League.

From the Associated Press:

“Because of the market, I have to handle – I must handle – (the transfer) because otherwise he had signed for Paris Saint-Germain,” Van Gaal said.

Van Gaal knows Depay well from his time as Netherlands coach and suggested the player’s motivation for moving to United was their relationship.

Asked why Depay would have wanted to join PSG ahead of United, Van Gaal said: “At that time, he wasn’t reached by me.”

“I don’t want to speak to players before the season has ended (but) because of the close relationship I have with the management of PSV, I could handle (the deal),” Van Gaal said.

It’s a worthy buy for United, as Van Gaal knows the player well enough to assume he’s mitigating a lot of the risk in bringing a free-scorer from Holland to the stingier Premier League. And Depay has that electric quality which can be so hard to find in the world.

United will need more depth for Europe next season, but could this be a precursor to the presumed sale of Angel Di Maria?