Why Kevin Strootman Is the Ideal Fit for Manchester United and Louis van Gaal

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterMay 20, 2014

ROME, ITALY - JANUARY 18:  Kevin Strootman with his teammate Dodo
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Kevin Strootman is a target for Louis van Gaal and Manchester United—don't doubt it for a second.

The new Red Devils boss was quizzed on the likelihood he pursues the Dutch midfielder by newspaper NOS, and he's quoted, via Alex Young of Goal.com, as being rather mysterious in his response.

"I gave my wishlist to the club," Van Gaal explained. "Is Kevin Strootman on it? A question for you, a fact for me."

Coy is the word, but it does more to grow the suggestions that Strootman is indeed on the list rather than off it. When the Oranje linchpin is fully recovered from ACL surgery, it's difficult to foresee a situation in which United won't pick up the phone.

He's a no-go for the summer, that much is clear, as a complete tear requires around nine months to heal. Jores Okore tore his ACL in September 2013 and didn't feature again for Aston Villa last season, while Radamel Falcao is a serious doubt to play in the World Cup following a similar injury sustained in January.

But the 2015 January transfer window represents an ideal time to begin courting him despite the fact that Roma have UEFA Champions League football and Man United do not.

Strootman was the key cog in Van Gaal's Netherlands side, the second name on the team sheet behind Arjen Robben, and much of the Oranje's switch to a 3-5-2/3-4-3 system has come about because of his absence.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 17: Holland manager Louis van Gaal during the International Friendly match between The Netherlands and Ecuador at The Amsterdam Arena on May 17, 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

There is no replacement, in all of the Netherlands, for Kevin Strootman.

That United let him slip through their fingers last summer was ridiculous; the club appeared to have him signed, sealed and delivered well before the end of the 2012-13 season, per Barry Glendenning of The Guardian, but the player instead ended up moving to Rome.

Van Gaal won't make that same mistake and will promise Strootman higher wages, the scene and the setting of one of the world's biggest clubs and an integral midfield role.

His final season at PSV Eindhoven was enough to convince that he was ready to make the step up; his defensive solidity, tracking of runners and tackling were impressive, but he could also open his legs up and attack space like a No. 10.

His all-round skill set was on show every week, and Rudi Garcia has decided to refine the defensive side of it, acting as a balancing midfielder in a Miralem Pjanic-Strootman-Daniele De Rossi trio.

The fact that both club and country played a 4-3-3 helped him maintain his incredible levels of consistency. His game isn't built on explosiveness, so the ACL tear is less of a worry than it is for Theo Walcott, and if he comes back swinging, he'll attract plenty of suitors.

The talk of a Dutch revolution at Old Trafford is legitimate, though, and although the club have dropped out of the Champions League temporarily, it still boasts immense pulling power.

If not January 2015, then the summer of 2015. If not then, the year after. Van Gaal adores Strootman and knows he's phenomenal. Of all the Oranje candidates to sign for the Red Devils, Strootman beats Daley Blind, Jordy Clasie, Bruno Martins Indi and Joel Veltman all ends up.