Louis van Gaal insists he never said Manchester United would be signing Pedro before the player completed his surprise move from Barcelona to Chelsea on 20 August, and also provided public backing for much-criticised executive vice chairman Ed Woodward.

United were believed to be in negotiations over the Spanish international throughout the summer transfer window, with Woodward said to have flown out to complete the deal earlier this week.

A disagreement over the initial sum to be paid to Barcelona appeared to represent a significant hurdle to any deal, however, and Chelsea used this uncertainty to their advantage by swooping in and using the likes of Jose Mourinho and former teammate Cesc Fabregas to convince Pedro into completing a £21.4m ($33.5m) switch to Stamford Bridge.

Some reports have speculated that United actually ended their interest in Pedro after negotiations broke down, instead focusing their attentions on launching a tentative enquiry as to the availability of Southampton winger Sadio Mane.

Although Van Gaal did previously admit the 28 year old would be a good fit for his improved squad at Old Trafford, he claimed that rumours over an imminent agreement were simply a product of the media.

"When I said Pedro fitted the profile I could not lie," he said in a press conference held prior to United's Premier League clash against Newcastle at Old Trafford. "I said yes. You said I was interested. You put my comments into another context. I never said he was coming."

When quizzed over any further transfer plans that could be put in place before the current window closes on 1 September, Van Gaal added: "You have to wait to see. We have 28 players. We did it last season without Pedro."

As was frequently the case throughout David Moyes' disastrously short tenure at the club, during which a prolonged pursuit of Fabregas proved unsuccessful and United were forced into paying £4m more than was initially necessary for Marouane Fellaini, much of the scrutiny regarding the failure to land Pedro has once again fallen upon Woodward.

It was not so long ago that he was being praised in the aftermath of successful deals for Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger, however, and Van Gaal has been quick to reject any criticism aimed at the man who was appointed to his current role in 2012.

"No-one should doubt Ed Woodward," he added. "I have the idea you want to separate Ed Woodward with me. Never. Never, because every day I am updated by him and I trust him."