It's officially transfer silly season, but with Manchester United needing a squad revamp under new manager Louis van Gaal, the Red Devils are best placed to ensure a few rumours come true.
Kevin Strootman is becoming increasingly linked with an Old Trafford switch at the onset of a spending spree that could reach £200 million by the time September arrives, reported by John Edwards of the Daily Mail. Greg Stobart of Goal.com also outlines Strootman as a key target for Van Gaal, who has a profitable relationship with the Dutchman at international level.
Elko Born, writer for FourFourTwo and others, reported complimentary comments from Strootman upon Van Gaal's unveiling as United boss:
Kevin Strootman on Van Gaal: 'I wish him luck. And I'm sure he can achieve something beautiful, he has proven that at other clubs.'— Elko Born (@Elko_B) May 20, 2014
Despite missing much of the season through serious injury, Strootman established himself as a key player during his first year with Roma. The box-to-box midfielder, whose natural abilities allow him to tackle powerfully before spraying an accurate pass or testing effort on goal, is exactly the kind of player United need to patrol the centre.
Strootman offers greater intensity than Cesc Fabregas, also linked with a move to the club by Edwards. While the Spaniard's tidy pass-and-move style would improve United's ability to retain the ball, his arrival will overcrowd a spot in the team that should be reserved for Juan Mata or Shinji Kagawa.
Toni Kroos also remains a target, according to Jamie Anderson of the Daily Star, who believes Van Gaal is actively hunting the German star. Former Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves indicates waves of unrest from Kroos' camp "is more of a money issue than anything," per Enis Koylu of Goal.com.
Staying at the Allianz Arena, Simon Jones believes Arjen Robben and Holger Badstuber are on Van Gaal's wish list, per Edwards. Similar to Strootman, Robben has been a key player throughout the new United manager's Netherlands reign, while Van Gaal played a huge role in developing Badstuber's central-defensive game during his time in Germany.
The most likely addition to United's back four looks to be Luke Shaw, reported by Jones of the Daily Mail. A huge £100,000-per-week contract is allegedly being lined up for the teenager's services, but United may struggle to agree a fee with Southampton, per Jamie Jackson of the Guardian.
James Ducker of the Times highlighted why Shaw's arrival is so important:
With Luke Shaw in, Evra would be perfect for 20/25 games a season. Lose him and United will need two new left backs plus two new CBs.— James Ducker (@DuckerTheTimes) May 19, 2014
United's defence could also be improved by Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels, reported by Edwards, but this seems unlikely after the German centre-back recently suggested he will remain at the Westfalenstadion for the long run, per Bild and via Stephan Uersfeld:
When I end my career, I don’t need to win eight championships, I’d rather have done something special. And that has certainly been the case here. That’s why I don’t waste any thoughts on this [leaving Dortmund] at the moments. I rather win one championship as a key player than four championships as a part-time player.
Sebastian Jung, the 23-year-old Eintracht Frankfurt right-back who racked up seven assists last season, per WhoScored.com, is also touted for a move according to Edwards. It is certainly time Rafael had quality competition, as the Brazilian's tendency to switch off became increasingly apparent during the recently concluded season.
United are currently surrounded by a flurry of transfer rumours. With such a huge budget to spend and plenty of improvements to be made, expect the intensity to continue ramping up across the next few weeks.
Van Gaal will be wise to secure as many of his targets as possible before the World Cup, just in case prices increase dramatically. The experienced manager faces the exciting task of rebuilding one of England's finest clubs, a project made more difficult by David Moyes' poor tenure.
The new boss' knowledge, ambition and funds ensure it should be an eventful summer for supporters who watched on in despair last year.