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Manchester United transfer news: Mats Hummels, Daley Blind and Thomas Vermaelen on radar as Louis van Gaal reveals he still wants to sign defender

Manchester United beat Inter Milan 5-4 on penalties after their latest pre-season match ended 0-0 after 90 minutes

Ian Herbert
Thursday 31 July 2014 09:08 BST
The Manchester United team walk out ahead of the pre-season friendly between Manchester United and Inter Milan at FedExField
The Manchester United team walk out ahead of the pre-season friendly between Manchester United and Inter Milan at FedExField

Louis van Gaal has admitted that he is looking for new defenders and added to the sense that Javier Hernandez’s Manchester United days are all-but finished, after the side extended their unbeaten record under him to three games.

“We are doing well but we are looking for defenders,” said the manager, who still hopes that Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen can be brought in, with Ajax’s Daley Blind also on the radar. “Defenders have gone and we have to replace them.” Vermaelen looks the most likely purchase, with Dortmund reluctant to let Hummels go.

Hernandez was given only 12 minutes of game time against Inter Milan and saw Wilfried Zaha make a powerful case to Van Gaal for a future at the club. Asked, after the 5-4 win penalties which followed a goalless 90 minutes, to assess the Mexican and whether he be sold, Van Gaal replied flatly: “I can’t answer as he is a United player at the moment.” Hernandez, who has been linked to Tottenham Hotspur, does not seem to fit into Van Gaal culture in which players need to be multi-functional.

Zaha’s future also looks precarious, with the Dutchman having bluntly stated that he only sees him as a striker and not as the winger he was known to be at Crystal Palace. But he is not one to flinch from a challenge. Zaha was the only dangerous presence against Inter – a team whose contribution to the game was desultory.

Louis van Gaal during the pre-season friendly between Manchester United and Inter Milan at FedExField

Zaha, who played the second half, severely threatened the Italian defence, including ex-United skipper Nemanja Vidic, with his pace and trickery. He might have secured a win outright, had he not skewed a shot narrowly wide of the left hand post, having beaten two players on the Italian left flank in the last minute. Zaha’s United chances have been scarce but he has tended to take them. It was the same story in last season’s Carling Cup fourth round tie with Norwich, the only competitive match he has started for United in 12 months. “I was pleased,” Van Gaal said of Zaha, again offering no grounds for huge optimism. “We have to wait and see. He has a lot of competition with the other strikers.”

Ashley Young was the other stand-out player - dangerous when switched from first half left wing-back to second half right wing – and one who is perhaps salvaging his career under new management. Van Gaal seems to appreciate his versatility.

Van Gaal said that Luke Shaw was “lucky” to play in Manchester United’s fourth pre-season game and had only done so because 20-year-old Reece James was injured. Shaw left the stadium eating an apple last night and insisted there was no problem between him and the manager, who has said he is unfit.

The 62-year-old has certainly given United some belief with penalties. He was testing them out on spot kicks at open training on Monday night and Young, Chicharito, Cleverley, Kagawa and Darren Fletcher all converted here. Against Sunderland in the Carling Cup semi-final second leg, United’s four misses seemed to sum up where David Moyes had taken them.

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