Former Manchester United player Andy Cole feels Louis van Gaal will have to ensure a top four finish this season, if he hopes to attract any players in the summer transfer window.

The Red Devils are currently third in the league table, six points behind second placed Manchester City and look steady on their course for a return to the Champions League, after they missed out last year, owing to a disappointing seventh place finish under David Moyes.

But on the down side, United are a mere one point ahead of Southampton and Arsenal, who occupy the fourth and fifth rung respectively, while eighth placed West Ham United are just seven points away.

And Cole, who has made 275 appearances with 121 goals to his name for the English club, feels that making it to the top four of the Premier League is more important than winning the FA Cup, a trophy that has eluded Manchester United for 11 years.

But after beating Yeovil and Cambridge and now facing Preston next in the last 16, they are being considered the favourites to lift the trophy this year.

Despite being out of the Champions League this season, the Old Trafford club managed to land names like Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao in August last year, but the striker insists that the club will have to end the season on a better note if they want to bring in more talented players in the future.

a I think most people recognise this is a new Manchester United taking shape, so it’s important that the club quickly wins some silverware, and the FA Cup is an ideal opportunity to do soa , Cole said via the Mirror.

a If I’m honest, I would view it as a massive bonus this season because, personally, I still think the main objective has to be to finish in the top four in the Premier League in order to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

a I think that is the best way to keep enticing top players as the manager continues to shape his squad to try to get where Manchester United are accustomed to beinga , the former English international explained further.

a Ideally we can do both, though, because winning the FA Cup is a platform for bigger and better things.

a If we can do that and achieve what we want to in the league, it will build momentum to carry us into next season and beyonda , the 43-year-old added.