Transfer talk: ‘I like him’ – Safe to say Van Gaal would take ‘fantastic’ Cristiano Ronaldo at Man United

'He is a fantastic, fantastic player but he knows that' said Louis van Gaal, both trying to bat away speculation about Manchester United and Cristiano Ronaldo and admitting it would be a dream signing.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid shown on Friday during his team's pre-season friendly against Manchester City in Australia. Robert Cianflone / Getty Images / July 24, 2015
Powered by automated translation

Louis van Gaal has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as a "fantastic player" after conceding he is in the hunt for a prominent signing to boost Manchester United's chances of challenging for the Uefa Champions League.

Van Gaal is hoping to mount a serious challenge for domestic and European championships in the coming year after qualifying for the Champions League in his first term in charge.

Despite spending more than £225 million (Dh1.3 billion) since taking over, Van Gaal is on the lookout for a forward who will help put United on a par with their domestic and European rivals.

“We need still more speed in front and also more creativity,” he said in an interview with British media on United’s pre-season tour of the United States.

“That is why I hope (Angel) Di Maria shall stay. But we don’t know that” he will, Van Gaal said.

Read more: The National's Transfer Talk page

When asked what kind of player he needs to make United leading competitors in the coming year, Van Gaal added: “I can give examples of champions. Bayern Munich have (Franck) Ribery and (Arjen) Robben; Chelsea have (Eden) Hazard and Willian; Real Madrid, Ronaldo and (Gareth) Bale; Barcelona have Neymar and (Lionel) Messi.

“Manchester United fans want us to compete with these teams.

“(Ashley) Young and (Juan) Mata had fantastic seasons, with assists and goals, but to win the Champions League you need speed also.

“That is why I think, maybe, we still have to buy a player with speed and creativity.”

Real Madrid superstar Ronaldo has maintained his status as one of the most destructive players in the world since leaving United in 2009 following six successful years at the club.

Van Gaal has been linked with a move for the two-time Ballon d’Or winner but he initially refused to discuss the idea of the Portuguese coming back to Old Trafford.

“I cannot answer this question. You can put it in another way and I shall say it the same,” he said.

“We cannot show our strategy in buying or selling players. When we shall buy a player and he has signed then we shall say it but not in the process, not in the strategy.”

But when pressed, Van Gaal dropped his guard.

“Now, I make an exception for Ronaldo,” he said.

“He is a fantastic, fantastic player but he knows that. I like him.”

Van Gaal’s preparations for the new season have gone well so far. United beat Club America and San Jose Earthquakes before defeating European champions Barcelona in Santa Clara on Saturday.

United, who finished fourth in the Premier League last season, round off their US tour in Chicago on Wednesday when they take on Paris Saint-Germain, who want to sign Di Maria.

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE