Louis van Gaal has reportedly blocked Manchester United's move for Toni Kroos, ending the club's lengthy interest in the Bayern Munich midfielder.
Van Gaal provided Red Devils chief Ed Woodward a list of transfer targets upon his appointment, per Jamie Jackson of the Guardian, but the latest reports indicate Kroos is not part of the Dutchman's selection.
David Anderson of the Mirror suggested Kevin Strootman is now a top priority instead:
Van Gaal is determined to take United in a different direction to [David] Moyes and has drawn up his own list of midfield targets.
He is a known admirer of Roma's Dutch international midfielder Kevin Strootman, while he could also revive United's interest in Cesc Fabregas.
Which midfielder do Manchester United need most?
Strootman was linked with a move to United during the last transfer window, but in a reoccurring theme under David Moyes, the English club missed out on their target. The same happened with Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara, Sami Khedira and Daniele De Rossi also failing to arrive.
Van Gaal simply can't afford to repeat this. United's squad was shown to be threadbare throughout the recent season, its midfield depleted and defence creaking. Michael Carrick, so often a key player for the club, was finally unable to carry a centre that lacks defining attributes. United's current midfield isn't particularly good at maintaining possession, scoring goals, or showing physicality or pace.
Strootman would have been an excellent signing last season. He is absolutely pivotal now. The Roma star possesses all of the attributes mentioned missing above and has a positive working relationship with Van Gaal in the Netherlands' international setup.
Sky Sports pundit Graham Hunter believes Van Gaal could manage to seal an alternate Bayern target to Kroos if needed:
People asking me about #Kroos all I'm sure of is that he was keen to sign for United, that club asked Bayern about him during Champs matches— Graham Hunter (@BumperGraham) May 22, 2014
@ShadeMUFC no boss, if you re-read I didn't say that at all. Utd were after Kroos that's all. IF LVG wants Schweini he'll get him— Graham Hunter (@BumperGraham) May 22, 2014
While Van Gaal's dwindling interest in Kroos is doing the rounds, reports are a long way from the previous suggestion that a deal was agreed, per David Wright of the Express. It is likely the new manager will need to publicly confirm his thoughts either way before the Kroos rumours are to die out.
Whether United opt for the talented German or not, Van Gaal's task remains the same. Sir Alex Ferguson's failure to substantially fill the squad with world-class midfielders, a mistake spectacularly repeated by Moyes, ensures Van Gaal has years worth of rebuilding to complete across the summer. He will be judged on those he brings in, and indeed, how they slot into United's ethos.
Strootman is an entertaining player, one who puts his body on the line for his club. He can score goals, pass with intent and keeps possession ticking over with a sense of assurance on the ball. The Dutchman is more geared toward defensive work than Kroos, perhaps highlighting him as a better fit. Both players offer the type of quality to mark a real improvement at Old Trafford, as right now, supporters will be clamouring for either.