The United boss, who secured a deal for the 21-year-old from PSV Eindhoven on Thursday, insists he did not want to sign Depay or any other player before the end of the season but was forced to step in with the winger on the verge of joining the French Ligue 1 champions.
Van Gaal admits his strong personal relationships with PSV’s hierarchy allowed him permission to speak to Depay and convince him to move to Old Trafford.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of United’s game at Crystal Palace, which is live on Saturday Night Football on Sky Sports 1 HD, Van Gaal confirmed: “I have been forced to sign him.
“I didn’t want to sign him before the end of the season because we have to focus on our games. When you sign a player, you disturb the focus of your present group of players.
“The coming matches are very important for all of the players. But because of the market, I had to handle it, otherwise he would have signed for Paris Saint-Germain.
“When he was about to sign for PSG, he had not been reached by me. I don’t want to speak with players before the season is over. I have a feeling towards my players.
“But because of the close relationships that I have with the management of PSV, I could handle it.”
Van Gaal was subsequently asked whether managers are increasingly forced to step in personally to secure transfers, especially among Europe’s top clubs.
The Dutchman said: “No. it has always been like that. I don’t think there’s a difference now.
“It is only because of the media, and social media, that you can read everything and you cannot ignore that. But because of that I have to handle and manage it.”
Chelsea won the league last weekend with three matches to spare and Van Gaal declared his former apprentice Jose Mourinho a worthy winner.
The 63-year-old, who was Mourinho’s boss at Barcelona, opened his press conference on Friday with a tribute to the Blues and their manager.
“I have sent him a (congratulatory) text already, but I don’t know if the message has arrived because I know he changes his number a lot,” Van Gaal said with a smile.
“But I want to wish my colleague Jose Mourinho and Chelsea congratulations on a well-deserved championship.
“When you see the statistics, you cannot doubt that they are the real champion.”
Watch Crystal Palace v Manchester United on Saturday Night Football on Sky Sports 1 HD from 4.45pm.