During his inaugural press conference as Manchester United boss, Louis van Gaal shared an interesting perspective on Dutch football, describing the Netherlands as the best in the world tactically.
With a population of just 17 million, a rather weak top flight and by no means privy to a golden generation over the last decade, perhaps LVG has a point, considering Oranje have reached the final four or better at three of the last five World Cups.
Thus, it seems only natural suggest that an influx of Dutch talent would be a proactive step in helping van Gaal implement his much-anticipated attacking philosophies at Old Trafford.
With that in mind, here’s a list of FIVE Dutchmen, all realistically available this summer, that could aid him in that cause.
Manchester United are in desperate need of added quality and pace out wide. Rather luckily, Louis van Gaal has been nurturing Oranje international Memphis Depay for some time.
Although not a natural fit for his country’s 3-5-2 formation, the PSV winger became the Netherlands’ resident impact sub at Brazil 2014, claiming two goals and one assist in four World Cup appearances, including this swerving strike against Australia:
…as well as this far-post finish against Chile:
The 20 year-old produced strong form in the Eredivisie last season too, finding twelve goals and seven assists in 32 appearances. Here’s a look at his campaign highlights:
Often dubbed the Dutch CR7 for their shared style and free-kick technique, Depay has been billed as a future United star for some time. But recent speculation suggests Tottenham Hotspur have been the most proactive in sourcing the Ghana-born attacker’s signature:
— Hotspur Lane (@HotspurLane) July 20, 2014
The centre-back department is another area of the Manchester United squad that requires Louis van Gaal’s drastic attention this summer, following the bosman departures of veteran stoppers Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Providing another potential Oranje solution is Feyenoord prodigy Stefan de Vrij, who featured in all-but 13 minutes of his country’s impressive World Cup campaign. He also finished the tournament as it’s highest-rated centre-back according to Whoscored.com, as detailed below:
Taking a closer look at the 22 year-old’s statistics from Brazil 2014 and you can see they’re nothing short of remarkable:
That mixture of defensive stability and quality on the ball is exactly what LVG looks for in his centre-backs – and is exactly what United’s defence has decisively lacked since Rio Ferdinand’s pace began to evaporate a few years ago. Here’s a short clip of de Vrij dominating the Eredivisie:
And according to the Metro, the 6 foot 3 centre-back is already in the Red Devils’ transfer crosshairs:
Stefan de Vrij could be Louis van Gaal’s first signing since arriving at United http://t.co/6RpTt7UVJ6
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) July 20, 2014
Netherlands international Kevin Strootman may have missed the World Cup through injury, but the industrious midfielder remains a key factor in Louis van Gaal’s alleged transfer plans. The 24 year-old has emerged as one of Serie A’s most dominant forces since joining Roma from PSV last summer, claiming five goals and six assists in 25 league outings, as well as this wonder-strike in the Coppa Italia… But the Oranje international’s utility to the Red Devils in a box-to-box capacity is better represented by the impressive statistics below… LVG has continuously championed three-man midfields throughout his career with the use of a controlling anchor. Often referred to as ‘The Dutch Roy Keane’, Strootman is seen by many as the ideal candidate for that role. He’s a big favourite of the United boss too, even wearing the Netherlands armband on occasion. But still sidelined for the next few months with an ACL injury, it’s believed the Red Devils may wait until the January window to get their man:
After an impressive World Cup campaign, Manchester United have been strongly linked with Ajax utility man Daley Blind.
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) July 19, 2014
Indeed, the 24 year-old excelled in a rather niche left wing-back role under Louis van Gaal, with his highlights of the tournament being this assist to Robin van Persie:
…and this goal against Brazil in the 3rd-place play-off:
Capable of playing at left-back, centre-back or in defensive midfield, the Oranje international would be a smart addition to the United squad. Furthermore, son of former Netherlands assistant Danny Blind, LVG knows the Ajax Player of the Year well. But recent speculation suggests Blind could be about to make a surprise switch to Barcelona:
Then again, he could just be on holiday.
Feyenoord midfielder Jordy Clasie is considered to be one of the Netherlands’ most impressive young talents, often dubbed ‘The Dutch Xavi’.
The 23 year-old’s World Cup exposure was relatively limited, but he thoroughly impressed in the warm-up friendlies with this sensational assist to Robin van Persie:
The two have an interesting bond…
…and if Louis van Gaal can capitalise on that at Old Trafford, he could quickly be onto a winning formula.
Don’t be fooled by Clasie’s 5 foot 7 stature; as well as claiming one goal and seven assists last season, he was one of the Eredivisie’s toughest tacklers:
The midfielder is known to be a favourite of van Gaal, but Feyenoord have sought to quash rumours that they’ll sell this summer:
Feyenoord’s Jordy Clasie will not move to the Premier League amid interest from Manchester United, Liverpool and… http://t.co/dL2KNk4Nz4
— News This Second (@NewsThisSecond) July 18, 2014