Manchester United transfer news: Louis van Gaal confirms interest in Roma's Kevin Strootman but ignores Jose Mourinho jibe

Mourinho said signing Luke Shaw would've 'killed' Chelsea due to his wage demands

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The Independent Football

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has confirmed an interest in the Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman but insisted that he will need to assess how the 24-year-old recovers from a six-month lay-off before making a move for the Roma midfielder.

Van Gaal, whose side play Roma here today, had intended to take Stootman to Brazil with in his Netherlands World Cup squad but has only just begun light training after surgery on a cruciate knee injury he suffered in March.

The manager said that the length of the lay-off created uncertainty about him. “Strootman I can judge, but he is injured for more than six months,” the manager said. “We have to wait and see how he comes back. It is not easy to say how he comes back from injury, but we will wait and see.”

Van Gaal refused to discuss whether another Roma player, French-born Moroccan centre half Mehdi Benatia, might be a United target and also ducked the first missile lobbed in his direction from Chelsea Jose Mourinho, once a protégée of his.

Mourinho said that the wage demands of Chelsea-supporting Luke Shaw  had prevented him from signing the left back.


“If we pay to a 19-year-old boy what we were being asked for, to sign Luke Shaw, we are dead,” he said. “We would have killed our stability with financial fair play and killed the stability in our dressing room. Van Gaal replied: “I don't have to answer, I don't think I have to discuss things the media. It’s better to discuss it with Jose.”

Van Gaal, who confirmed that Rafael da Silva will miss today’s game with a groin strain, declared the biggest adjustment for the squad he has taken over is their learning to play more cerebrally.

Asked if British players found adjusting to his fast-moving passing game harder than his new charges at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, he said: “Maybe Barcelona was different at the time, but Bayern have always played 4-4-2 and I introduced the system they are playing now and it was a different thing for the players. The important thing is that I am training the players not in the legs, but in their brain. Brainpower. That is important thing. I say things how they are. It is my direct character.”

Van Gaal criticised the decision to stage the match at 2pm local time, when temperatures are likely to be fierce, resembling the furnace at Fortaleza where his Dutch players beat Mexico in the World Cup last 16. He made the unusual move of naming two players – Tom Cleverley and young left back Tyler Blackett – who will play the full 90 minutes.

“It is unbelievable that we play at two o’clock,” Van Gaal said. “We will adapt to the situation because all the players will play for 45 minutes except Cleverley. “For the players, it is very hard and I hope I can persuade the referee to have a drinks break as I did in Fortaleza. We have sports science department and it shall be done very well with the conditions, especially those players who will play 45 minutes.

Jose Mourinho and Louis van Gaal

The manager clearly believes that there is work still be done to bring United’s players to the standard he demands. “This morning was not a good session, it was 11 v 11 and we simulated an opponent and it wasn’t so good,” he said. “Tonight we saw set-play, yellow [bibs] were better than red [shirts]. They make the pitch big and then make it very compact when they lose the ball. I see progression every day, but also not good things. We are here to improve, though.”

The Dutchman was at the hub of training once again last night, blowing a whistle to command players when to deliver crosses and corners. There was less voluble criticism, with only Chris Smalling getting a public rebuke, and part of the session involved hi preparing for the penalty shoot-out which will come tonight of the sides are level. “Anyone want to take a penalty?” he asked. All the players put their spot kicks past Ben Amos.