Louis van Gaal will look to bolster Manchester United's midfield with the acquisition of Toni Kroos and Kevin Strootman if he is installed as Old Trafford boss, according to reports.
Currently favourite to permanently replace David Moyes, per Daniel Taylor of the Guardian, Van Gaal will look to quickly improve a Red Devils midfield that lacks pace, power or any defining characteristics, reported by Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star:
He will KEEP interim manager Ryan Giggs on his staff and will mentor the United legend to be his eventual SUCCESSOR. And Van Gaal has identified midfield as his top transfer priority.
His No.1 targets will be Bayern Munich’s Toni Kroos, 24, and Roma’s Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman, 24, currently recovering from knee surgery.
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United's links to Kroos have continued to develop since January, and they were heavily linked with Strootman during last summer. In March, Hetherington claimed Moyes has missed out on Strootman three times throughout his career, but his recent article indicated Van Gaal may have the luring power to land Roma's classy midfielder.
Before his injury, Strootman emerged as a rock in the centre of Roma's midfield. He flaunts great vision, can tackle powerfully, is strong in the air and even has an eye for goal. His five successful strikes and six assists—combined with a pass accuracy of 88.3 percent and average of 3.3 tackles per match—underline a player of multifaceted quality, reported by WhoScored.com.
Strootman has dropped no hints of leaving the club he joined from PSV Eindhoven in 2013. In fact, he appeared committed to the Italian side's future after Roma's 1-0 win over Fiorentina on April 19, as noted on his Twitter account:
A great result yesterday from the team!! Champions league, here we come❤️💛.. #ForzaRoma— Kevin Strootman (@Kevin_strootman) April 20, 2014
Kroos, meanwhile, continues to be the subject of mixed reports. He previously told German newspaper TZ, via ESPN: "I belong to Bayern Munich." He recently moved away from this suggestion by indicating he won't remain at the club if his contract demands aren't satisfied, saying: "It is my future, and my decision," per Bild and via Kit Holden of the Daily Mail.
The Bayern star is built further toward maintaining and distributing possession than Strootman, who is arguably less natural on the ball but stronger in the tackle. Imagining the two together is a mouth-watering prospect, as Strootman and Kroos boast the dominant style that would galvanise a currently lightweight United midfield.
This area has needed addressing for years. Sir Alex Ferguson's failure to beef up United's midfield was one of his greatest oversights, leaving Moyes little to work with when he was installed during the summer of 2013.
Individuals such as Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher haven't inspired confidence or creativity during the course of the season. Throw Moyes' signing of Marouane Fellaini into the mix and it's no wonder United have failed to click into gear this campaign.
Van Gaal, unlike the man before him, flaunts the kind of winning record that will get players interested in joining United. He is of excellent pedigree, having won major competitions with Bayern, Barcelona, Ajax and AZ Alkmaar, highlighting that he is used to performing well—no matter the level.
Currently Netherlands' national coach, Van Gaal knows Strootman well. The former PSV Eindhoven midfielder is likely to make the Dutch World Cup squad despite his injury, signalling his importance to Van Gaal's international plans.
Such ties could prove pivotal for United. The upcoming summer needs to be one of major change and investment. A manager like Van Gaal has the knowledge, strategical nous and brand power to get the club where it is expected to be.
Both Kroos and Strootman represent fine signings. United's ambition will be judged on the calibre of player they snap up during preseason, and indeed, the manager they hire. Van Gaal is a strong enough character to dance through the intense media spotlight without appearing overruled, unlike his potential predecessor.