Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has denied reports that there is set to be a clear out at Old Trafford over the coming weeks, claiming that his comments were misinterpreted in the media.
Van Gaal was quoted last week suggesting that he would make decisions on which members of the squad had no future at the club upon returning from their pre-season tour of the USA, with the likes of Shinji Kagawa, Nani, Javier Hernandez, Wifried Zaha, Marouane Fellaini and Anderson all rumoured to be on the move.
However, the Dutchman has now clarified those remarks, stressing that no one at United will be forced to leave, despite strong competition for places.
‘I shall not say anything in the media,’ he told Sky Sports. ‘I shall tell the players what I think, and that’s a little bit different to what the media is making from what I said in the press conference.
‘I shall say honestly what I think to the players at Manchester United and they can choose, so it’s not that I come in with an axe to swing. It’s not like that.’
As Van Gaal looks to remodel the United squad for his first season in charge, the first-team departures at this point have been veterans Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, as well as Alexander Buttner.
Nevertheless, with no European football this campaign, after 2013-14’s disappointing seventh-place Premier League finish, the battle for minutes will be as fierce as ever, and it would be a surprise were there not to be several more names leaving before the end of the transfer window.
Van Gaal has also remained mum on the subject of potential arrivals at United, with just Athletic Bilbao’s Ander Herrera and Southampton’s Luke Shaw bought in thus far for a combined £56 million, and a rumoured deal for Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal up in the air.
The former Netherlands boss has had a successful pre-season at the helm, beating rivals Liverpool 3-1 to win the International Champions Cup, after previous victories over Roma, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, but one gets the sense that he is still keen to do a lot of business between now and the transfer deadline.
Which players should Van Gaal ship out of Old Trafford this summer?