Louis van Gaal says Robert Lewandowski, Neymar, Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez and James Milner were among the top talents he tried to take to Manchester United during his spell at Old Trafford.
The Dutch tactician was handed the Red Devils reins in the summer of 2014, with Premier League giants turning to a proven performer on the back of their failed experiment with David Moyes.
Van Gaal arrived in England with big ambition and wanted that to be mirrored by the club in their recruitment business, but he ended up being frustrated down almost every avenue explored.
Discussing those he targeted with FourFourTwo, Van Gaal reeled off a star-studded list of 10 names: “I wanted Robert Lewandowski, but when this proved difficult I tried to get Gonzalo Higuain instead.
“Before I had arrived, I also spoke with the board about Neymar. If you are at United, you have to think big. He was also interesting for the club in terms of selling shirts, and I wanted to have quick wingers. For that reason, I also tried to get Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez.
“Thomas Muller was on my wish list, too, and in central midfield I wanted N’Golo Kante. I even tried to sign James Milner, who was already quite old but very multi-functional and possessed leadership skills.
“For the defence, I wanted Sergio Ramos and Mats Hummels, because ours wasn’t the strongest in building from the back.
“Those were my top targets, but we couldn’t get any of them. I don’t know why, because as the manager I wasn’t involved in any negotiations. After I left, players like Mahrez and Kante ended up at Manchester City and Chelsea, while United couldn’t get them. I found that very odd.”