MANCHESTER, England (AP): Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was forced to personally intervene to clinch the signing of Memphis Depay ahead of schedule to prevent the Netherlands winger from joining Paris Saint-Germain.
Van Gaal said Friday he didn't want to sign Depay until the end of the season, fearing it would disturb his players' focus for their remaining Premier League games as United looks to secure a Champions League qualification spot.
However, the deal was pushed through sooner than planned to ward off competition for the player from PSG, the big-spending French champions.
"Because of the market, I have to handle I must handle (the transfer) because otherwise he had signed for Paris Saint-Germain," Van Gaal said.
United announced on Thursday that the club has reached a deal to sign Depay from PSV Eindhoven, with the move set to go through once the transfer window opens in June.
Van Gaal knows Depay well from his time as Netherlands coach and suggested the player's motivation for moving to United was their relationship.
Asked why Depay would have wanted to join PSG ahead of United, Van Gaal said: "At that time, he wasn't reached by me."
"I don't want to speak to players before the season has ended (but) because of the close relationship I have with the management of PSV, I could handle (the deal)," Van Gaal said.
Depay is this season's top scorer in the Dutch league with 21 goals.
United is fourth in the Premier League and occupying the final Champions League berth, four points clear of Liverpool with three matches left.
United will be without one of its most important players for the run-in after holding midfielder Michael Carrick was ruled out of the rest of the season because of a calf injury.
The England international was injured in the 4-2 win over Manchester City on April 12 and United has lost its three games since, without scoring a goal.
Van Gaal said "a virus in our dressing room" is disrupting preparations for Saturday's match at Crystal Palace.
"I have a little bit of pain in the throat," Van Gaal said. "A lot of players are suffering (from it)."