• Reuters


Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal on Friday played down the club’s interest in signing Pedro from Barcelona after the Spanish international decided to join Premier League champion Chelsea instead.

He also defended executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, who was widely reported to have flown to Barcelona to tie up the deal, and said goalkeeper David De Gea would be staying.

Van Gaal stressed that United was still an attractive option for any player it wanted to bring to the club.

“I think when Manchester United wants a player he shall come, besides when a club is not selling. It is the same with us. We are not selling De Gea.”

He blamed the media for exaggerating his interest in Pedro.

“When you ask me if Pedro is fitting in the profile, I cannot lie, then I said yes, but I don’t say I am interested in the player, that’s the difference,” the Dutchman told a news conference.

“I think if we want Pedro it was not any problem because there was a (release) clause in his contract. It was the easiest transfer,” he added.

“What is written in the newspapers is not true, you cannot know it. Only the players know it and the clubs know it.

“I have the idea you want to separate Ed Woodward from me. Never. Never. Every day I’m updated by him and I trust him.”

The Dutchman would not comment on speculation linking United with Southampton’s Senegal forward Sadio Mane, saying that with a squad of 28 players he was not under any pressure to make new signings.

Memphis Depay, recruited before the start of the season, was impressive as United beat Bruges 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League qualifying round match on Tuesday, giving the team a third win out of three.

United hosts Newcastle on Saturday, when Van Gaal said De Gea would again not feature.

He has not played this season after the manager said the stopper was not focused because of transfer speculation linking him to Real Madrid in his native Spain.

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