Depay, Hummels and... Ings? LVG has earned the right to direct United's summer spending

The ‘Gaalactico’ policy drove the signings of the likes of Angel Di Maria & Radamel Falcao last summer – but Van Gaal does not need big names to challenge for the title

Image: Frank Augstein

IT WOULD NOT have gone unnoticed in the Manchester United boardroom that the two stand-out signings from last summer’s £150 million spending spree played a total of 16 minutes in Sunday’s derby victory.

Angel Di Maria, who cost £59.7m, came on as an 81st-minute substitute with the victory beyond doubt while £240,000-a-week Radamel Falcao came on only for the final seven minutes.

The ‘Gaalactico’ arrivals had watched on from the bench as the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Ashley Young and Michael Carrick did the hard work in setting up United’s 4-2 victory over rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford.

United are ready to spend another £150m in the summer transfer window and their financial firepower will be boosted by their imminent return to the Champions League and the start of a kit deal with adidas worth £750m over 10 years.

But they must back Louis Van Gaal sensibly by bringing in the players he really needs rather than big-names that will sell shirts but may not suit the manager’s plans.

Van Gaal wants five new players in the summer and will ask executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward to strengthen the squad by bringing in a central midfielder, striker, winger, centre-back and right-back.

The Dutchman’s wishlist may include some big names. It is no secret that he is a huge admirer of the likes of Mats Hummels and Paul Pogba, for example, but United must avoid the trap of signing players based on their reputation.

There is a sense that Di Maria and Falcao were ‘given’ to Van Gaal last summer by Woodward, rather than specifically targeted to improve the team.

Likewise, deals for Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera were more or less secured before Van Gaal’s appointment and then sanctioned by the 63-year-old.

Only Daley Blind particularly stood out as a new arrival identified and requested by the manager.

The rest were tied in with certain agents close to the club and the deals were driven by Woodward’s desire to prove that United still meant business despite last season’s seventh-place finish.

In Woodward’s first summer after replacing David Gill, he desperately tried to bring Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale to Old Trafford. United even outbid Real Madrid for Bale by offering £100m, but the forward had his heart set on a move to the Spanish giants.

The galactico policy at United is commercially driven just as much as it is about ensuring they have a star-filled team ready to compete for prizes on an annual basis. In an interview in Los Angeles during the pre-season tour last summer, Woodward insisted there was ‘no budget’ for the club and that they could break the £86m world transfer record set when Bale moved to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Spain Soccer La Liga Source: AP/Press Association Images

Van Gaal, though, has always insisted that he doesn’t need expensive signings to build title-winning sides and prides himself on his coaching ability.

The Dutchman has ignored reputations and transfer fees this season – and United’s run of six consecutive Premier League wins suggests they are ready to mount a genuine title challenge next season.

Now that Van Gaal appears to have settled on the 4-3-3 system he has used throughout his career, United can also target players specifically suited to the tactics that have brought success during a difficult run of fixtures.

A £20m deal for Memphis Depay would be a great start to the summer for United. Van Gaal gave the PSV winger his debut for the Netherlands national team and he has exploded this season with 25 goals in 36 matches.

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Nathaniel Clyne would be a sensible addition at right-back while a top quality central defender such as Hummels or Aymeric Laporte is a priority for Van Gaal.

tumblr_n00cz6wpP61rhs8mlo1_250 Hummels with girlfriend Cathy Fischer.

In midfield, Kevin Strootman’s ongoing knee problems means Van Gaal may have to turn his attention elsewhere, while United will be in the market for a striker.

Radamel Falcao will return to Monaco in the summer after his poor campaign and Van Gaal wants more movement and pace in his attacking options, especially with Robin Van Persie’s powers on the wane.

While PSG striker Edinson Cavani has been linked with the club, maybe the quick feet of Burnley’s Danny Ings – available for around £3m in compensation as his contract expires – would be more suited to the manager’s requirements this summer.

The Van Gaal revolution is starting to come together and the title race will surely be more exciting next season, with Arsenal also in fine form and Manchester City sure to spend as they look to challenge Chelsea’s dominance of the last eight months.

This summer, there is no need for a raft of changes and the arrival of several superstar names. If United box clever in the transfer market, they can give Van Gaal exactly what he wants.

- Greg Stobart,

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