Scouting Report: Manchester United Transfer Target Kevin Strootman
Imagine for a moment you're Sir Alex Ferguson. The Manchester United side which you have managed for 26 years have just qualified as group winners in the Champions League, you've beaten your fierce rivals and also domestic champions Manchester City, 3-2, to break their two-year unbeaten record at home and sit top of the Premier League as a result.
Yet somehow, the jigsaw doesn't seem complete without a midfield playmaker.
Sure, fans will point to the £13 million signing of Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund this summer. But with the Japanese star seemingly struggling to adapt to life in the Premier League and constantly hampered by injury, the enigma remains unsolved for Ferguson.
There's certainly not a lack of creativity in the side, with 37 goals so far this season in 16 games. However, it's evident that the legendary Scot is concerned that when Paul Scholes decides to hang up his boots (again), they will lose a midfield general. Now seems the ideal time to introduce you to PSV's highly-rated midfielder Kevin Strootman then, doesn't it?
For those of you who are rather unfamiliar with Dutch football, fear not. Strootman isn't exactly a household name in Europe...yet. But despite being just 22 years of age, he's been exhibiting maturity in the Holland and PSV midfield that's reminiscent of former midfielder Philip Cocu.
What Manchester United really desire for their next potential signing is the ability to work well with Michael Carrick, himself a deep-lying playmaker, spraying passes out to the wings while holding up the play.
Alongside Carrick, Ferguson has desperately tried to transform Scholes, Anderson and others into box-to-box midfielders, hounding the opposition midfielders while also getting into the box when attacking. With this in mind, Strootman ticks all the boxes.
Having only joined PSV from FC Utrecht in 2011 in a double deal worth €13 million with Dries Mertens, Strootman took no time whatsoever to adapt, quickly rising to the challenge and expectations at one of Holland's biggest clubs. Unusually for a central midfielder, Strootman is predominantly left-footed, but in any case, this makes him less predictable against the opposition and offers another dimension for both club and country.
A lethal finisher with an eye for a goal, Strootman has recently been assisted by the arrival of Mark van Bommel, who at 35 years old now sits in a deeper holding role. As a consequence, he currently holds an impressive record of seven goals in his 42 Eredivisie games for PSV, quite a record for a midfielder.
But his main ability lies within the midfield area, for Strootman's passing ability is second to none. As a result, Bert Van Maarwijk trusted him with the place in his side, and although the national team failed miserably at Euro 2012, Strootman was one of few shining lights.
With PSV sitting comfortably at the top of the Eredivisie, the January transfer window may come too soon for Strootman's arrival at Old Trafford. However, with the likes of Arsenal, Barcelona and AC Milan monitoring his progress at the Phillips Stadion, a summer transfer could well be on the cards for the former Sparta Rotterdam trainee.
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