Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has doubts about the fitness of $80 million target Arturo Vidal, according to the Chile national team coach, Jorge Sampaoli. The Red Devils have been linked with the Juventus midfielder since the summer when he appeared for Chile in the World Cup. However, Vidal underwent knee surgery in May and the operation was blamed for the player not being at his best in the tournament.
In Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, Sampaoli referred to the potential transfer of Vidal from Juventus to United and pointed to the fact Vidal went under the knife just two months before helping his country reach the quarter-finals in Brazil. “The problem in Vidal’s transfer from Juventus to Manchester United for 80 million dollars is the doubt that Van Gaal has with respect to the improvement of Arturo’s knee,” Sampaoli said.
The on-off deal between United and Juventus appeared to reach a head last week when Vidal reportedly said the player was not for sale. However, it has since been reported this week that Vidal met with officials at his current club in order to force through a deal to allow him to move to United.
Meanwhile, van Gaal has dropped a major hint that he is keen to sign Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado, who impressed in the World Cup playing for Colombia. UK newspaper the Daily Star quoted van Gaal as saying: “I cannot talk about Cuadrado, because if I say something about him the price will rise.”
While there is a lot of focus on United’s pursuit of of $80m target Vidal, a host of European clubs will be waiting to see who van Gaal decides to sell. Prior to United’s 3-1 International Champions Cup final against Liverpool on Monday, the Dutchman said he would tell the unwanted players they could go almost immediately after the game. Although no names have come out, it is thought Javier Hernández, Marouane Fellaini, Anderson, Nani, Wilfried Zaha and Shinji Kagawa are just six of the names expected to exit Old Trafford during this transfer window. Van Gaal said he wanted to tell the players as soon as possible to make sure they could negotiate deals beneficial to themselves and the club. Spanish champions Atlético Madrid are reportedly interested in signing Hernández and Kagawa with Arda Turan moving in the opposite direction.
With Argentina and Real Madrid winger Ángel Di María looking most likely to join Paris Saint-Germain, van Gaal knows he must sign at least one more big name to add to the signings of Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw. Van Gaal admitted this week that signing the players he wants has become a more difficult exercise than he imagined and while he said he may start the season with the squad he has in place, he knows he needs to bolster his midfield and defense. A ball-winning box-to-box player like $80m-rated Vidal would be a welcome addition to United, in the style of former United captains Bryan Robson and Roy Keane. Yet with doubts over Vidal’s long-term fitness, van Gaal could be tempted to start looking elsewhere to fill the void.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd