Chelsea jumped in to buy the Barcelona star earlier this week while Valencia defender Nicolas Otamendi, another player strongly linked with United this summer, joined Manchester City for £28.5m.
It has led to criticism of Old Trafford chief Ed Woodward, who is understood to have flown to Barcelona on Monday in an attempt to sign Pedro, with the player’s agent Antonio Sanz yesterday claiming that United ‘fell asleep’ over the deal.
However, Van Gaal defended Woodward and gave a clear indication that United could have signed Pedro and Otamendi had they wished.
He said: ‘I have the idea that you want to separate Ed Woodward and me. Never. Every day I am updated by him and I trust him. I don’t think that people have to doubt him because he has proven for many years that he is the right person in the right spot.
‘When we wanted Pedro it was not any problem. There was a clause in his contract so it was the most easy transfer. What we are doing is guiding a process and in that process we make decisions.
‘I have never spoken about any defender and you are asking me about Otamendi. Also that Manchester City was quicker than Manchester United.
‘I think when Manchester United want a player he shall come, except when the club are not selling. It is the same with us when we are not selling (David) de Gea.’
Despite United’s hardline stance over De Gea in the face of persistent interest from Real Madrid, the goalkeeper’s future remains in the balance with 10 days of the transfer window remaining.
Van Gaal, who would not be drawn on his interest in Southampton’s Sadio Mane, reiterated that the decision to keep De Gea out of action would not be assessed until the window closes on the first day of September.
Mane has told Saints boss Ronald Koeman he wants to stay at St Mary’s despite interest from United. Asked whether Mane (left) had told him he wants to remain at Southampton, Koeman said: ‘Yes. He wants to stay. He knows that there’s no bid for the player. His agent knows. I know. Everybody knows.’
Meanwhile, Van Gaal praised Wayne Rooney for admitting that he has endured a poor start to the season after being restored to centre forward, but expressed surprise that his captain has been so candid.
‘It starts with the player himself as he has to admit that he is bad and then he can improve,’ said Van Gaal.
‘When you are saying so publicly that you are bad, then you know that you are very bad at that time. I think it’s fantastic that a player will admit that.
‘It’s also for me unbelievable because he is one of the few players who is saying those things because there can be a threat of pressure from the media after a few weeks. He takes a risk, I think.’
Rooney also received support from Steve McClaren, the Newcastle manager who hopes to end United’s 100 per cent start to the season at Old Trafford this lunchtime.
McClaren said: ‘Unfortunately, he is one of those types - whatever he does, he will be criticised. But believe me, he won’t give a damn about that.’
Original source: United can still attract anybody - LVG