Louis van Gaal has rubbished suggestions that he directly told Ajax defender Jurrien Timber to avoid joining Manchester United ahead of the summer transfer window.
Following Erik ten Hag’s appointment as manager at Old Trafford, United were almost immediately linked with a move for the versatile defender. Ten Hag had overseen his development in Amsterdam and his stock was high after winning Ajax’s Talent of the Year award last season.
United quickly identified Timber as their leading defensive target, but were forced to switch their focus to Lisandro Martinez after it became clear that the former would not be leaving the Johan Cruyff Arena. The decision was made not too long after former United manager Van Gaal, now in charge of the Netherlands national team, warned Timber that he should refrain from joining the Reds because it could impact his development and amount of regular minutes ahead of the World Cup.
Speaking during a press conference back in May, Van Gaal said: “I think a player of his quality can play in the Premier League. That is not a problem. If he has to make this big step now, that’s the question. It is not so wise I think (to move to United). He has to play.”
The Dutchman’s comments implied that he was sceptical of the prospect of Timber joining United. Earlier in the year, Van Gaal had also warned Ten Hag against taking the job at Old Trafford.
However, Van Gaal, who will step down as Netherlands boss following the World Cup, has moved to clear up his comments, insisting that his previous admission about Timber’s future was nothing more than advice.
“I want to set one thing straight: I have indeed called players, but I have always ended the conversation with: this is advice,” Van Gaal said. “You have to stay close to yourself and make the choice yourself.”
Earlier this month, Timber himself said of Van Gaal: “Many things that are written in the media are false. Like when people say that it was Louis van Gaal who told me not to go to Manchester United. He actually said I would make minutes there.”