Best XI: Players That Were Handed Their Debuts By Louis Van Gaal

REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

With Louis Van Gaal announcing his retirement recently, it is fair to say he has proved his worth as a manager by winning domestic league titles with Ajax, AZ Alkmaar, Bayern, and Barcelona, and also winning the Champions League with Ajax in 1995, among many of the trophies he managed to accomplish during his coaching years. His last match as a manager was also a title winning one, with Manchester United lifting the 2016 FA Cup.

Besides winning titles and being strict in his ways, Louis Van Gaal also built a reputation as a visionary towards young players and seeing a potential in many of them by handing a lot of them their debuts, and helping them rise towards and among the world’s greatest.

LVG promoted youth talent wherever he went, and left a huge impression on some of the current world’s best players during their early footballing days.

Paying tribute to Louis Van Gaal, here is a list of the Best XI team comprising of all players that were handed their debuts under the Dutchman’s reign:


Victor Valdes

Being handed his debut in 2002 by Van Gaal in Barcelona, Victor Valdes went on to become Barcelona’s main man between the poles for over a decade, and won numerous league, domestic and European titles with the Spanish Giants.

REUTERS/Albert Gea


Patrick Kluivert

A Dutch legend, a rock solid defender and an integral part of Ajax’s golden years since the early age of 18, Kluivert was handed his Ajax debut Louis Van Gaal in 1994. He went on to score the winning goal for Ajax in the 1995 UEFA Champion League final.

Carles Puyol

Possibly one of the best defenders during his time and playing days, Puyol was Barcelona’s skipper, and possibly the most crucial part of their team that went on and became the greatest under Pep Guardiola. However, that team was built from scratch by Louis Van Gaal, and Puyol earned his senior debut under him in the year 1999. The Spaniard further went on and become a leader and legend for the club.

David Alaba

Still a young talent and one for the future, David Alaba is one of the best left backs in the world, and has established himself as a regular in a star studded Bayern team, and seems certain to play that role for a long long time to come. The Austrian earned his Bayern Munich debut under Louis Van Gaal in the year 2010, and now, 7 years later, has surely made the faith shown by his manager worth it.


Reuters / Paul Hanna

Andres Iniesta:

A players that needs no introduction was given an introduction into the Barcelona side by Louis Van Gaal in the year 2002 at the early age of 18. Coming through from La Masia, it did not take LVG long to see the potential in Iniesta to become a great midfielder, and his vision and decision proved right, as the midfielder went on to form a formidable midfield partnership with Xavi and become of the world’s greatest ever players, and a club legend. He also scored the 2010 World Cup winning goal for his country Spain in extra time.


Iniesta’s partner in midfield, the second half of the world’s best midfield partnership for a while, Xavi is a Barcelona club legend. He guided them through many titles and European accolades before moving to continue playing football in Qatar. Xavi is claimed to be one of the greatest passers of the ball of the 21st century, and he was handed his debut by the Dutch mastermind Van Gaal almost 20 years ago, in 1998.

Edgar Davids:

Louis Van Gaal handed a debut to Edgar Davids back in the year of 1991. Davids further went on and proved his manager’s faith in him to be correct, and delivered countless important performances for Ajax over the years by also guiding them to the 1995 Champions League title.

Clarence Seedorf:

Another one of Louis Van Gaal’s visionary players, Seedorf made his first team debut under LVG in 1992, which coincidentally made him the youngest ever debutant for Ajax at that point of time. Seedorf was part of a young team which was being built by LVG, and further went on and helped his manager achieve the club’s golden years in the near future that followed.


Reuters / Carl Recine

Nwankwo Kanu:

Signed by Louis Van Gaal, Kanu made his debut for Ajax in 1994 and soon helped them win the Champions League in 1995. Being pushed onto the world football stage by LVG, Kanu went on and played for teams like Arsenal and Portsmouth, and also became the captain of the Nigerian National Team.

Thomas Muller:

Considered as the most influential part of his life by the player, Louis Van Gaal was the one to bring Muller to the stage of world football and have faith in him and his abilities at a very young age. Van Gaal might not have given him his first proper debut, but he surely included him in the Bayern Munich team at a very promising period and helped him become the footballer he is today – integral to Munich in today’s day and age.

Marcus Rashford:

The latest sensation to be brought into the footballing world by Van Gaal, Rashford burst onto the scene in 2016 and immediately provided a contribution of important goals to the Red Devils, and has since helped himself to become one of the best young strikers in the world at the moment.

Apart from these mega sensations, Louis van Gaal also gave debuts to Gabri Garcia, Nano, Jofre, Samuel Okunowo, Sergio Santamaria, Fernando Navarro and Sergio Garcia.

Furthermore, Louis van Gaal also gave debuts to the likes of Mario Melchiot, Nordin Wooter, Kiki Musampa, Martijn Reuser, Kofi Mensah and Denny Landzaat at Ajax.

With many more countless young stars being given debuts by LVG, 24 latest at United, he proved that despite being of age, strict with policies and stern in his footballing behaviour, he had a knack of eyeing out young talent ready to roar, and of never shielding away from giving worthy players a first step towards a mile long illustrious journey and career.

Also See:

Feature: Louis Van Gaal: From World Cup Brilliance To Getting Sacked

Four Reasons AC Milan Will Rise From The Ashes

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