x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Transfer talk: United’s Van Gaal plays with Di Maria rumours: ‘Maybe Vidal or Messi’ too

Louis van Gaal has flashed his sense of humour regarding the much-rumoured move of Angel di Maria to Manchester United, while West Brom completed the signing of Silvestre Varela from Porto on loan on Sunday.

Manchester United manager greets Sunderland manager Gus Poyet before their Premier League match on Sunday. EPA Photo / August 24, 2014
Manchester United manager greets Sunderland manager Gus Poyet before their Premier League match on Sunday. EPA Photo / August 24, 2014

Manchester United

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal refused to confirm his interest in Real Madrid’s Angel di Maria as speculation mounted that he is on his way to Old Trafford.

Speaking after seeing his side only manage to claim a point from a 1-1 draw at Sunderland on Sunday afternoon, the Dutchman remained tight-lipped.

Van Gaal said: “I cannot say anything about transfers, you have to understand that. When a transfer has been finished, then we can say something. But now you have to wait and see.

“When the moment is there, Manchester United shall announce it.”

He added with a smile: “It is not only Di Maria – maybe Vidal or Messi. We are a big club.”

What is in little doubt is that United need reinforcements and quickly if they are to belatedly launch their season.

A point was the most they deserved to take out of their trip to Wearside as they laboured despite taking an early lead against the run of play.

Van Gaal said: “We lost a lot of balls in situations I don’t expect it. When you do that, you have to run after the ball to win it back and then you are not in the match. That was the first-half problem, I think.

“In the second half, we were dominating. But you need creative passing in the last third and that was also not so good. We were dominating without creating any chances.

“That is the purpose of the game, to create chances and make goals. But we didn’t create so many. That is disappointing.”

West Bromwich Albion

West Brom have continued their squad overhaul by signing Porto winger Silvestre Varela on loan.

The Portugal international has joined on a season-long deal to become Albion’s 10th new recruit of the transfer window.

Club head coach Alan Irvine said: “Silvestre is a vastly-experienced player, both with Porto and his national team, and I’m delighted we’ve managed to secure his services.

“He’s got pace and power, gets his fair share of goals and is also a creator of chances for others.

“He’s a fantastic addition to our squad.”

Varela played for his country at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, coming off the bench to score in their group game against the United States, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

The 29-year-old right-sided player has won 26 caps in total and netted five international goals.

Varela came through Sporting Lisbon’s youth system and had spells on loan from the club at Casa Pia, Vitoria Setubal and Recreativo Huelva.

He made a permanent move from Sporting to Estrela Amadora in the summer of 2008 before sealing a switch the following year to Porto.

Hull City

Steve Bruce expects a busy final week of the transfer window for Hull, with Tottenham’s Michael Dawson moving closer to signing and plenty of work to do on a deal for Jordan Rhodes.

Bruce, whose 10-man Tigers drew 1-1 with Stoke on Sunday, wants to build a larger squad than last season, partly due to the possibility of a Europa League group campaign if his side overturn a play-off deficit to Lokeren in the return leg on Thursday.

Dawson, whose brother Andy used to play for Hull, has been on Bruce’s wanted list all summer but progress has been slow.

But having been marginalised by new Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, a deal now exists “in principle” between the clubs.

There is work yet to do to complete the signing, but Bruce is hopeful.

“We’re close to one in particular that we hope we can get over the line. Michael Dawson, we hope we can get,” he said.

“There’s a deal in place anyway, in principle, so hopefully, touch wood, we’ll see what develops.”

His pursuit of Rhodes has proved more troublesome.

Blackburn are strongly opposed to selling their prize asset and have firmly rejected two bids from Hull, the second thought to be worth £10 million (Dh60.8m).

They insist he is not for sale but it would be a surprise if Bruce does not return with a new offer.

“I thought I had Jordan Rhodes 24 hours ago and it seems to be further away than it’s ever been,” he said.

“We’ve been in negotiation for a week. We don’t know 100 per cent just yet. We have to wait and see.”

Swansea City

Swansea skipper Ashley Williams is hoping the club can build on a perfect start to the season by keeping star striker Wilfried Bony.

Garry Monk’s men made it two wins out of two on Saturday by backing up the shock opening-day win at Manchester United with a 1-0 home victory over newly-promoted Burnley.

Monk added to his squad last week by signing £8m Napoli defender Federico Fernandez and Spurs midfielder Tom Carroll on a season-long loan deal, but it is the potential loss of key personnel which Williams is concerned about after putting six points on the board.

Bony has been linked with Liverpool and Tottenham after his goal-scoring exploits in the Premier League last season and for the Ivory Coast at the World Cup in Brazil – and Williams knows the importance of keeping the muscular 25-year-old frontman beyond the September 1 transfer deadline.

“It’s not for me to say who comes in, but I don’t want to lose anyone,” said the Wales defender after celebrating his 30th birthday with a first home victory of the season.

“I think we have got a lot of talent at the moment with depth on the bench and the more quality players we have in our squad, the better.

“Bony looked the best I have seen him in pre-season. He is hungry and disappointed when he doesn’t score.

“We are really glad to have him, especially after the speculation about him. It just shows how important he is to our team.

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