In Signing Strootman, United Would Be Righting a Wrong of 10 Months Ago

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In Signing Strootman, United Would Be Righting a Wrong of 10 Months Ago
Lars Baron/Getty Images

Incoming Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is set to “go Dutch” upon his Old Trafford arrival, and already a handful of his countryman are being lined up for summer moves to the dethroned Premier League champions.

Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Van Gaal, who will finally be unveiled as Red Devils boss next week, as per the Daily Mail, is thought to be mulling an audacious swoop for Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben, according to ESPN FC, and the Manchester Evening News has also reported Feyenoord trio Jordie Clasie, Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi—all 22-years-old, currently at Feyenoord and heading to the World Cup—could be on their way as well.

But the Dutchman’s biggest acquisition stands to be Kevin Strootman, who was part of a stylistic revolution at AS Roma before a serious knee injury back in March ruled him out for the rest of the season.

On Wednesday, Italian outlet Il Tempo revealed that United were keen to sign the 24-year-old. A day later, the story was picked up by various English outlets, including the Express.

Now, the Premier League outfit’s interest in Strootman goes back at least until November 2012, when the Mirror reported then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson had made contact with the midfielder. In the end, it was Roma who snatched him from PSV Eindhoven for €17 million, a sum United would nearly triple to bring Marouane Fellaini east from Everton.

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images
Strootman suffered a serious knee injury in March and could be unavailable until October.

It’s yet to be seen what part—if any—Fellaini will play in van Gaal’s plans going forward, but the arrival of Strootman would almost certainly force the Belgium international to the periphery of the squad.

A tough-tackling midfielder who was nevertheless booked just once in 24 Serie A appearances this season, Strootman is far less volatile than Fellaini and also possesses the vision of a first rate ball-distributor.

According to Squawka, his average pass in 2013-14 was 17 metres in length, and he completed 88 per cent of every pass he attempted for Roma. Crucially, he also averaged more than an interception per match, an indication as to his instincts off the ball.

Squawka
Strotman's length of passes.

A prospective midfield partnership with the proficient Clasie is almost certainly what van Gaal has in mind, and the thought of the two of them playing together should be enough to get the dispirited Old Trafford faithful salivating.

But it all starts with Strootman and, in making him their summer priority, Manchester United would be righting a wrong of almost a year ago, when they let him pass between their fingers.

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