With Manchester United’s midfield in desperate need of some fresh blood, the Old Trafford side have been linked with Roma star Kevin Strootman.
The 24 year-old missed the World Cup through injury, and will remain sidelined until November at the earliest. But that doesn’t appear to have deterred Louis van Gaal’s interest, having hinted earlier this week Strootman is on his radar.
Of course, the Dutch duo know each other well. The tough-tackling midfielder has been an integral part of the Netherlands first team over the last few years and is currently their official vice-captain.
Roma apparently want £79million for Strootman, who only joined the Stadio Olympico ranks last summer.
But regardless, we think the Oranje international would be perfect for Manchester United and resultantly have conjured up FIVE reasons the Red Devils must sign him…
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) September 26, 2012
— Eunan Doherty (@eunandoherty) June 1, 2014
Man Utd mulling move for Dutch ‘Roy Keane’ http://t.co/TUh0Qie5
— Emirates 24|7 (@Emirates247) June 9, 2012
Kevin Strootman is often referred to as ‘The Dutch Roy Keane’. So what better home for him than Old Trafford?
Indeed, like the former Red Devils skipper, the 24 year-old is tenacious and tough-tackling. He came 13th in Serie A’s challenges-per-match table last season, as detailed below:
United’s midfield has lacked that energy and bite for some time, especially amid Darren Fletcher’s long-term illness. Here’s Strootman putting his boot in (amongst other things) against Ajax during his PSV days:
He’s already taken skipper duties on a permanent basis for former club PSV, despite being just 23 years of age, and Louis van Gaal has even issued him the armband for the Netherlands on occasion too.
Interestingly enough, following the departure of Nemanja Vidic, Manchester United are on the prowl for a new captain.
Despite his freshness to the Carrington scene, I’m sure the Old Trafford faithful would much prefer Strootman donning the armband next season than Tom Cleverley, who was met with a tirade of social media abuse after being named skipper by van Gaal during United’s pre-season friendly against Roma:
WHAT? CLEVERLEY CAPTAIN!!! Is Moyes operating Gaal by remote of control?
— Evil Kagawa (@evilkagawa) July 26, 2014
Tom. Cleverley. Captain. Not a drill. Repeat. Not a drill.
— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) July 26, 2014
Tom Cleverley as captain might be the best banter in football history
— Elliot Lewis (@VivaElzayto) July 26, 2014
Despite what my adoration for Kevin Strootman’s tackling ability might initially suggest, the Oranje international is by no means a one-trick pony.
In truth, he comes with an excellent all-round game and his contribution going forward was vital for Roma last season as they staged a surprise runner up finish in Serie A. Here’s his attacking vitals for the campaign:
And a look at his equally impressive passing statistics:
As the stats suggest, the 24 year-old is a lot more than your generic holding midfielder. He’s competent on the ball and efficient in the final third, making him an ideal box-to-boxer from Manchester United’s point of view. Take this piledriver from last season for example:
That should see him fit into Louis van Gaal’s attacking philosophy perfectly as the deepest-lying midfielder.
Van Gaal: Most of the players are saying lovely things about me. There are also players who are very angry. Ribéry, Toni, Stoichkov &Rivaldo
— James Robson (@JamesRobsonMEN) June 3, 2014
Rivaldo “I want to play behind the strikers.’ Van Gaal ‘Right. that’s your decision’ and he sat on the bench – only the manager would decide
— Whitehouse Address (@The_W_Address) July 19, 2014
But the United gaffer is known to have a strong bond with Kevin Strootman, having made him a central figure in the Netherlands team and issued him 15 caps since taking the Oranje reins in summer 2012.
And as previously stated, LVG has even handed the 24 year-old the armband on occasion, officially making him vice-captain for Holland. And as the Manchester United gaffer has continually stated in regards to the Red Devils’ vacant captaincy, that basically means you’re the son he’s never had:
Van Gaal, “You make a player captain when you have more or less the same philosophy, not only about football tactics but also about life,”
— Dutch Football (@football_oranje) May 18, 2014
Louis van Gaal’s transfer targets have surprised many this summer, the most notable example being the Dutchman’s apparent reluctance to sign World Cup winner Toni Kroos for an incredibly cheap £20million fee, despite Manchester United’s obvious need for greater talent in central midfield and the potential move already set up by predecessor David Moyes:
Louis van Gaal pulled the plug on Toni Kroos’ Manchester United move http://t.co/H3IGtFQeNa
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) July 9, 2014
But the Red Devils gaffer has confirmed in the last few days that Kevin Strootman, despite being injured, remains on his radar:
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) July 26, 2014
Understandably so; LVG is planning major philosophical changes at Old Trafford and the Roma midfielder would be an ideal on-pitch general to help implement them.
Of course, the main issue – apart from Strootman’s fitness issues which will see him out until at least November – is price-tag, with the Serie A runners-up reluctant to cash-in on a player they signed only twelve months ago.
Rather ridiculously, they’ve reportedly placed a £79million valuation on Strootman:
— ESPN.co.uk (@ESPNUK) July 27, 2014