It was all going so well for Louis van Gaal until the season actually started.
The Dutchman warned it wouldn’t be a smooth ride for Manchester United as they transitioned towards a new 3-4-1-2 system, but few anticipated the former Premier League champions would be without victory in their first three games of the season – including a shock 4-0 defeat to MK Dons in the Capital One Cup last night.
Quite obviously, the quality of the Red Devils squad needs to be improved. And although there’s just five days of the transfer window remaining, that’s still more than enough time to get some business done.
So, with that in mind, here’s a list of SIX stellar signings to turn United’s form around and keep Louis van Gaal in the job.
Why aren’t Manchester United smashing down Daniel Levy’s door, trying to work out a deal for Jan Vertonghen?
The Tottenham centre-back is one of the Premier League’s stand-out defenders and further showcased his qualities at the World Cup with Belgium, but the only rumours we’ve heard this summer are in regards to a new five-year contract.
Fortuitously, there’s been a lot of talk but the 27 year-old is yet to sign on the dotted line. After missing out on Mats Hummels, who is now Borussia Dortmund captain, Manchester United need to weigh in – Vertonghen is not only proven in the top flight but represents exactly the style of defender the Red Devils should be looking for this summer.
Firstly, the former Ajax product – extra brownie points with van Gaal – can play at centre-back or left-back, as he did for Belgium at the World Cup to great success, making him theoretically ideal for the left side of a back three.
Secondly, Vertonghen is a front-footed defender who gained his standing in England by playing out of the back and scoring goals during his first season at White Hart Lane, the vitals of which are detailed below:
Thus, he would suit the central berth in a back three well too. Here’s a look at the Spurs star in action:
In my opinion, Vertonghen would be perfect for United, adding top quality and perhaps most importantly, leadership, to their struggling defence.
Admittedly however, this late in the transfer window, Tottenham will demand a small fortune for their key defender.
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Another centre-back worth Louis van Gaal’s consideration is Brazil international Dante.
Manchester United have taken a look at the Bayern Munich defender before, and now that the German champions have secured a deal for Roma sensation Mehdi Benatia, the timing is right for the Red Devils to revive their interest.
Since moving to the Allianz Arena in summer 2012, the 30 year-old has claimed an incredible eight trophies, including back-to-back Bundesliga titles and the Champions League, whilst he also made it into the 2013 ESM Team of the Year.
Dante endured a disappointing World Cup, as he found himself at the heart of Selacao’s 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany, but his club form over the last two years has been incredibly consistent, as detailed below:
Here’s a look at the 6 foot 2 defender in action:
As you can see, his greatest gift is winning the ball back and quickly moving it in the right direction. Manchester United need a defender like that right now, who can give a consistent supply to midfield.
Clearly however the German champions will only sell at the right price – they issued Dante a one-year contract extension in March to protect his value. How much can United justifiably spend on a 30 year-old?
What I find most concerning about this current Manchester United side is the overall lack of pace and threat in-behind. Prior Red Devils teams have been filled with explosive wide-players or poachers, whilst Louis van Gaal had Arjen Robben stretching play for Oranje at the World Cup.
In my opinion, the best remedy for that would be Fiorentina road-runner Juan Cuadrado, whom the Old Trafford outfit have been strongly linked with for much of the summer:
Man Utd to make £32M bid for Fiorentina star Cuadrado today http://t.co/LhcH9Hdxuk
— Tribal Football (@tribalfootball) August 21, 2014
United’s interest follows an impressive World Cup campaign, where the Colombia international claimed four assists – the most of any player at the tournament – including this set-up to James Rodriguez:
His form in Serie A last season was equally proficient, as detailed below:
Combining pace, athleticism, trickery and netting prowess, this goal typifies the South American:
He’s also incredibly versatile and was utilised in a plethora of positions by the Florence outfit last season:
Mooted as a potential successor to Dani Alves at Barcelona, the 25 year-old would be perfect for the right wing-back role in United’s 3-4-1-2 system.
And the summer window may be drawing to a close but the £32million-rated midfielder has offered Manchester United great hope in signing him after revealing a move could still happen before September 1st:
Juan Cuadrado won’t rule out a Manchester United move in this transfer window http://t.co/gpwqlzlrWD
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) August 25, 2014
There’s no two ways about it, Manchester United NEED to sign Juventus midfielder Aruto Vidal this summer. Not least because his aggressive, relentless box-to-box style, as shown in the below stats, is exactly what United have lacked in midfield for the last few seasons: That ability to contribute in both defence and attack, whilst possessing the stamina to compensate for a lack of numbers in midfield, will be vital for the Louis van Gaal’s 3-4-1-2 plans. His goals are important too – Tom Cleverley, Marouane Fellaini, Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher netted just twice collectively last season but no midfielder has bettered Vidal’s 28 goals in Serie A since joining the Old Lady in 2011. Perhaps most importantly, Vidal’s emergence as one world football’s most complete midfielders has come via his dominant, all-action displays at the heart of Juve’s 3-5-2 system: The 26 year-old performed well in the same formation, albeit in a more advanced role, with his country at the World Cup too. That experience in a three-at-the-back system could prove vital amid Louis van Gaal’s philosophical revolution at Old Trafford. Here’s a look at Vidal in action: It’s no secret that the Red Devils have been chasing after his signature all summer, and recent speculation suggests talks with Juventus over the £50million-rated midfielder’s future are finally underway:
Louis van Gaal needs an ally, a player who understands his direction and philosophy perfectly, and Manchester United need someone who can fill the multitude of gaps in their squad.
Netherlands international Daley Blind fits both requirements perfectly. Following a Player of the Year award-winning campaign with Ajax, he excelled in the left wing-back role at the World Cup, as detailed below:
His defining moment being this assist to Robin van Persie against Spain:
But in truth, Blind is a utility man, capable of featuring in a variety of positions across the midfield and defence: The 24 year-old’s arrival would significantly bolster the depth of Manchester United’s squad. Recent speculation suggests Ajax are prepared to let the Oranje star leave this summer:
But the Daily Mail claim the Red Devils are yet to make an official offer:
Manchester United have not made a bid for Daley Blind, according to his agent http://t.co/AnLGUC2HFg
— Daily Mail Football (@MAILfootball) August 27, 2014
Jurgen Klopp has once again dismissed reports that Marco Reus will be allowed to leave this summer, but until Borussia Dortmund tie down their star forward to new terms, top clubs including Manchester United will be determined to prize him away from Westfalen. With the exception of missing the 2014 World Cup through injury, the 25 year-old’s career has continually soared since joining the Black-Yellows in summer 2012. Last term he was absolutely lethal in the final third, as detailed below, earning him the Bundesliga’s Player of the Year award: The Germany international creates and scores goals, but his technical qualities are underpinned by his blistering pace. Here’s a look at Reus in action: The former Monchengladbach star can play anywhere across the front or as a no.10. That would allow Louis van Gaal to switch to his more favoured 4-3-3 formation and also offer him another option up top. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie undoubtedly remain first choice but Reus poses a different, more penetrating threat. Furthermore, as previously stated, Reus’ rumoured contract situation is incredibly enticing. The Mannschaft forward allegedly has a bargain-rate £20million release clause:
That’s not set to come into effect until next summer, but Dortmund will be well aware that they’ll get a much bigger mark-up on Reus if they sell now.