Jordy Clasie saw very little game time at the World Cup this summer, but the Feyenoord midfielder’s reputation continues to grow.
Described in the Netherlands as the ‘Dutch Xavi,’ Clasie is intelligent and moves the ball well. He may be a little short of taking over the reins of Manchester United’s midfield – regardless of the signing of Ander Herrera – but this is a player who would represent a smart addition to the squad at Old Trafford.
New manager Louis van Gaal will have a number of decisions to make with regards to who will be retained and who will be shipped off this summer. Two casualties could be Marouane Fellaini and Tom Cleverley, both of whom have done little to warrant a stay at United into next season.
The Belgian international serves very little purpose at the club, having been brought in seemingly as a defensive midfielder but lacking the positional intelligence and passing range to adequately occupy the deep-lying midfield position. Cleverley, similarly, offers very little inspiration or indication that he is on the brink of developing into a player that is worth the club’s time.
The England international offers little on the pitch and hit a wall during an interview with the Mirror last season in which he also failed to offer a clear explanation of his on-field duties.
Clasie, on the other hand, is far more clear-cut in what can be expected of him. While Herrera is the central midfielder the club have been crying out for, Clasie would replace 32-year-old Michael Carrick, who really failed to convince last season after an especially good run of form during United’s title winning season in 2012-13.
Van Gaal’s track record of developing young players also comes into play here. Clasie merited the right to join up with the Dutch World Cup squad this summer, but there are still steps that need to be taken in his football education.
Yet even with that in mind, the Feyenoord midfielder would still offer far more to the team than someone like Cleverley, who can retain possession but fails to produce anything noteworthy. A part of United’s problem last season was in creating chances, not just in the final third but in getting the ball from back to front.
Clasie could also be used in a system alongside Herrera and another defensive-minded midfielder, moving towards the 4-3-3 formation traditionally used by van Gaal. Herrera will make forward runs, he chips in with goals of his own as well as creating for others, but his tenacity will regularly see him press high up the pitch.
In such a case, Clasie would remain in the centre of the pitch, not only helping to retain possession and generating scoring chances, but also in helping to prevent opposition counterattacks. The midfielder registered an average of 3.2 tackles per game for Feyenoord last season.
What has always been the case about Manchester United this summer is that it would take far more than just a couple of world-class signings to address the deficiencies in the squad. It’s an ageing squad, it’s a squad that has lost Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes to retirement over the past two seasons, while Darren Fletcher’s future may also be doubt due to injury – and that’s ignoring the long-standing need for a midfield addition that can be deemed good enough.
Whatever happens with players like Cleverley and Fellaini, upgrading with high-reward squad additions like Clasie is a must at United.