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Louis Van Gaal Wants A Galactico, But Whom?

Louis van Gaal has been having immense fun with the world’s media this off-season. Last week he told a throng of salivating journalists that he had a “surprise” signing in the pipeline, leading all and sundry to waste copious amounts of ink/cloud space pontificating about said surprise's identity.

This week the Iron Tulip is at it again, whipping the Fourth Estate into an SEO-frenzy with the announcement that United need the “speed and creativity” of a Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar or Hazard. You won't be surprised to hear that the British tabloid media nearly went into meltdown at the prospect of a semi-legitimate reason to put Manchester United, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo all in the same headline. Click-bait ambrosia!

Here at The18, we’re normally loathe to jump into the “Galactico to United” media circle jerk, but beneath all the fluff lies a kernel of truth in van Gaal’s statement. For all the money spent, Manchester United managed just 62 Premier League goals last season; their lowest return in EPL history. Against the likes of Aston Villa and Burnley they often looked ponderous, bereft of ideas and the incision required to pick through the labyrinthine locks devised by more defensively minded teams. So while they’re never going to sign any of Ronaldo, Messi or Neymar, there are certainly a number of players out there who could deliver the speed, creativity and/or goal-threat LvG thinks his side requires.

Kevin de Bruyne

While not in possession of truly express pace, few players were better at picking apart obdurate defenses than Kevin de Bruyne last season. The Belgian international registered 10 goals and 20 assists in 34 Bundesliga appearances, and if it’s creativity and goal production that van Gaal’s after, he could do worse than shell out the $80 million or so price tag that Wolfsburg have reportedly hung around the 24-year-old’s neck.


The Spanish International has, understandably, struggled for game time in a Barcelona squad that contains three of the greatest attacking threats currently playing the game. Six goals and as many assists in just 15 starts, however, tells you that Pedro has the pace and creativity that van Gaal desires, just as the 15 league goals and eight assists he managed the season before do. Luis Enrique stated a week or so ago that Barca would be powerless to stop the 27-year-old from leaving if a team meets his surprisingly low - $35 million – release clause, and teammate Sergio Busquets has also admitted that Pedro could leave this summer.

Of all the attacking midfielders realistically available this summer, Pedro surely represents the best value-for-money (in case such things are of concern to the richest sports team on the planet).

Andre Schurrle

Anyone who says Andre Schurrle doesn’t have what it takes to tear defenses limb-from-limb is out of their tiny mind, and that includes Jose Mourinho. During his stop-start 18-month Chelsea career the 24-year-old managed 11 Premier League goals at a rate of one per 160 minutes: that’s fully 80 minutes a goal more prolific than the supposed gold standard Eden Hazard managed for his 14 EPL goals last season. Throw in three goals and an assist from six substitute appearances at last year’s World Cup, and it’s clear the German international has the pace and attacking threat van Gaal desires.

If the aforementioned de Bruyne shows us anything, it’s that Chelsea rejects should not be discounted lightly. Would Wolfsburg sell having only acquired Schurrle this January? If the price was right, yes.

Antoine Griezmann

Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi scored more La Liga goals than Antoine Griezmann last season, whose 22 strikes came at a rate of one for every 112 minutes played. Pedants might argue that the lion’s share of them were scored against lesser opposition, but that’s exactly van Gaal’s stated need: A flat-track bully. While the French international only joined Atletico Madrid at the start of last season, reality is that the Rojiblancos are a selling club, and they’d be unlikely to turn down a sizeable – if not galactic – offer.

Thomas Muller

Perhaps the closest thing to a “realistic” Galactico, Thomas Muller would deliver everything van Gaal is in search of: speed, incision, creativity and crucial, match-winning goals. The 25-year-old has spoken previously of a relationship with the Dutchman that “goes beyond what is normal between a player and a coach”, but for all that Muller may welcome a reunion with van Gaal, Bayern Munich big-wig (his official title) Karl-Heinze Rummenigge insists that, like the wares in a high-end fashion boutique, Muller doesn’t even have a price tag. Probably still a long-shot, then.

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