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United prepared to break transfer records

ESPN staff
July 23, 2014
Keane: Van Gaal is the right fit for Manchester United

Louis van Gaal will be allowed to break transfer records when bringing in new signings at Manchester United, according to the club's executive vice chairman Ed Woodward.

Woodward endured a frustrating first summer in his position last year as mooted transfers for Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara, Gareth Bale and even Cristiano Ronaldo failed to materialise.

United have so far paid upwards of £50 million for Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera since Van Gaal was named as David Moyes' replacement but, as has been the case for the last few years, the biggest transfers have taken place away from Old Trafford this summer.

Woodward: I can take criticism

Ed Woodward endured a difficult summer after Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United © Getty Images
  • If Ed Woodward were to land two or three of Louis van Gaal's main targets for Manchester United, he would go some way to salvaging a reputation which took a hammering last summer when his only capture was £27.5m flop Marouane Fellaini.
  • The former investment banker, who joined United in 2005, admits he still has some work to do to persuade fans he is the right man to be responsible for the club's transfer and contract negotiations.
  • "You gain credibility through experience and through time," he said. "You can't expect credibility from day one and I wouldn't ask that of the fans. You keep learning on the job and I'll continue to learn for a long period of time.
  • "I don't mind reading [criticism] because it's extremely important for me to listen to the fans. Criticism can change into positive comments over a period of time."

Real Madrid signed James Rodriguez for £63m on Tuesday, while Barcelona splashed out £75m on Luis Suarez earlier this month.

When asked whether United would be willing to pay a similar amount for a player, Woodward said: "It is in our capabilities. The club are not afraid of doing that - spending significant amounts of money in the transfer market."

Such a move could see United break the £50m British record transfer fee paid by Chelsea for Fernando Torres in 2011. Woodward insists neither he nor the club would be fazed about being responsible for such a big deal.

"Whether it's a record or not does not really resonate with us," Woodward said. "What resonates is a top, top elite player that the manager wants that is going to be a star for Manchester United. We are in a very strong financial position. We can make big signings.

"I get pointed in the direction of a target that the manager wants and there is an assessment of what that might cost and I'll negotiate hard to do the best I can on the trade."

United are interested in signing Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund, though the club expect the Germans to fight hard for the centre-back, given that they have already lost Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich this summer.

Van Gaal is also interested in signing compatriots Daley Blind, Stefan de Vrij and Kevin Strootman, although a move for the latter may have to wait until January as he is struggling with the knee injury that kept him out of the World Cup.

United have been told that Angel Di Maria is for sale, which could prompt Van Gaal to make an enquiry for the Real Madrid winger.

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is also on Van Gaal's wish list, although United have not, contrary to reports, agreed a swap deal for the defender that would see either Nani or Chris Smalling heading the other way.

It is understood that Juventus' Arturo Vidal is not being considered as a potential signing.

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