Going against virtually every philosophical tradition at Old Trafford, Louis van Gaal has made no secret of his plans to implement a 3-5-2 system at Manchester United next season.
The formation was a major hit at the World Cup – not only did it see LVG’s Netherlands claim third place, but it also helped Chile beat Spain 2-0 and aided Costa Rica’s underdog march to the quarter-finals.
Whether it can be a success in the Premier League remains to be seen. But if van Gaal is to successfully apply it to the Red Devils next season, he needs at least a handful of signings to make it a reality.
Thus, being the kind bunch we are at football fancast, we’ve listed SIX players to help 3-5-2 succeed at Manchester United.
Manchester United are already on the verge of signing Arturo Vidal, having reportedly agreed personal terms with the Juventus star yesterday evening:
— IndyFootball (@IndyFootball) August 7, 2014
His transfer fee is yet to be agreed, but the 26 year-old is the perfect acquisition to implement Louis van Gaal’s 3-5-2 dream, having played an integral role in the formation last season with the Old Lady – who used it in all 38 Serie A fixtures to win the league title, as viewable below:
The Chile international also worked under the same system at the World Cup, albeit in a more advanced role, confirming his suitability to it.
That could have something to do with Vidal being perhaps the most complete midfielder in world football – just take a look at his incredible statistics from last season:
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 Red Devils’ 3-5-2 plans.
As previously stated however, United still need to wrap up a fee for the South American, and rumour has it that they’ve been pressed with a deadline:
— Héctor Garzón (@hfabian777) August 8, 2014
Whilst Manchester United’s right flank is well covered by Antonio Valencia and Rafael, the left is currently donned by the highly-talented but dangerously inexperienced Luke Shaw.
Rather fortuitously, LVG has just spent the World Cup making Ajax utility man Daley Blind look like a world-class left wing-back.
Following a Player of the Year award-winning campaign with the Eredivisie Champions, the 24 year-old finished Brazil 2014 with the second-most assists of any player, as detailed below:
That includes this sensational delivery to Robin van Persie against Spain:
Here’s a look at the Netherlands international’s stats from the tournament:
Well acquainted with 3-5-2 (Ajax have also utilised it on occasion) and also capable of playing in central midfield, Blind has a lot to offer the United squad.
It appears the Red Devils are already eyeing the 24 year-old:
— IndyFootball (@IndyFootball) August 8, 2014
But rumoured interest in the £17million-rated Dutchman from Barcelona could prove an issue.
Another left wing-back option the Red Devils should be strongly considering is a bid for Wolfsburg sensation Ricardo Rodriguez, who has been tenuously linked with an Old Trafford switch before:
[DAILY STAR] Man United table bid for Liverpool and Tottenham target Ricardo Rodriguez: MANCHESTER UNITED have… http://t.co/JR0A1urXKa
— Kicau ManUtd (@KicauManUtd) July 9, 2014
The 21 year-old absolutely destroyed the Bundesliga last season and transitioned his potent form into the World Cup, as shown below:
The Switzerland international lacks defensive awareness at times and may lack the athleticism to marshal an entire flank on his own. But technically, he’s perfect for the wing-back role. Here’s a look at Rodriguez in action:
But Die Wolfe are understandably keen not to part with Rodriguez this summer and have recently issued a hands-off warning regarding the €25million rated starlet:
— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) July 21, 2014
Of course, the most notable omission in the Manchester United roster in regards to a back three is a commanding centre-back that preferably can contribute going forward too.
It’s no secret that in this regard, Louis van Gaal’s desired purchase is World Cup winner Mats Hummels:
— Manchester Utd News (@ManUtdTS) July 31, 2014
Measuring in at 6 foot 4 and averaging five successful aerial duels per match last season, the Borussia Dortmund centre-back is a formidable force in the air. Here he is netting a ferocious winning header against France during the World Cup quarter-finals:
But the 36-cap international is better known for his ability to play out of the back and link-up with midfield, often leading to comparisons with Mannschaft legend Franz Beckenbauer, best represented by these attacking and passing statistics:
Here’s a vid showing Hummels’ impressive all-round game:
The 25 year-old is regarded as one of the top defenders in world football and knows Louis van Gaal well, having worked under him briefly as a youngster at Bayern Munich.
With Dortmund now eying Liverpool’s Tiago Ilori, Hummels could be allowed to leave this summer:
— Barclays League (@BarclaysLeague) August 2, 2014
But United would be wise to act quickly, with rumours that Arsenal have now entered the race for his signature:
— Fresh Arsenal (@Fresh_Arsenal) August 2, 2014
Another signing that would significantly boost the quality of Manchester United’s backline is Tottenham star Jan Vertonghen.
The Belgium international was rather quiet and subdued last season but his inaugural Premier League campaign heralded a spot in the PFA Team of the Year.
That was in no small part due to Vertonghen’s commitment to venture forward and join the attack, illustrated perfectly in the below video:
And as viewable below, his stats from the 2012/13 campaign are incredibly impressive:
Perhaps most importantly of all however, the 27 year-old is capable of playing at left-back as well as centre-half, making him an ideal defender for a back three. He’s also a product of the Ajax academy, implying he’d work well under Louis van Gaal.
If Manchester United want to sign the Spurs talisman however they’ll need to act quickly. According to the Daily Mail, the Lilywhites have offered him a new five-year contract:
— Addicted to Spurs (@AddictedtoSpurs) August 4, 2014
Fiorentina star Juan Cuadrado is primarily considered a winger. But the Colombian international is versatile and industrious off the ball, and was thus utilised at No.2, amongst other positions, by the Serie A side last season:
The 26 year-old absolutely destroyed the Italian top flight last year and had a significant impact at Brazil 2014, as detailed below:
In fact, nobody at the tournament bettered his four assists, including this set-up to James Rodriguez:
Combining pace, athleticism, trickery and netting prowess, this goal typifies what the South American is all about:
He could prove an inspired choice for the right wing-back role, having been also mooted as potential successor to Dani Alves at Barcelona.
The Catalans provide stiff transfer competition, but Fiorentina have admitted a move away this summer looks incredibly likely:
— Eurosport.com (@EurosportCom_EN) August 8, 2014
Recent speculation suggests Cuadrado’s Old Trafford arrival would come at a cost of £36million.