Manchester United have ample funds to dedicate to repairing their squad this summer. However, the Red Devils would be wise to shy away from a proposed move for Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The Germany international midfielder will be the subject of a mega-money bid from Old Trafford, per Daily Star reporter Gary Jones. He claims new United boss Louis van Gaal will pay up to £23 million to lure Schweinsteiger away from the reigning Bundesliga champions.
There's an obvious connection between Van Gaal and the 29-year-old Bayern pass master. Van Gaal coached Munich from 2009-11, during which time he was credited with furthering the player's development.
The Dutch coach apparently remains very keen on the player, according to Jan Aage Fjortoft:
I understand Man UTD have already talked to Bayern about Schweinsteiger. - van Gaal loves him.... #mufc 2/2— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) June 6, 2014
Yet, while Schweinsteiger is undoubtedly an exceptional player, United should take the opportunity to court a younger option. Relying on youth has often been a club trademark.
A dismal season that culminated in a seventh-placed finish represents the ideal time to get back to that core value. Van Gaal has the chance to craft a young team, one ready to spring a few surprises next term.
Trying to lure a player on the eve of 30 away from the UEFA Champions League to a club without European football next season seems a frivolous pursuit.
Even if they managed it, United would be getting a player whose form took a mild dip last season. Schweinsteiger struggled to stay healthy, particularly toward the end of the campaign, as Fjortoft noted:
Germany will start with Lahm in midfield in this Tournament. Bad news for Schweinsteiger who hasn't been 100% though— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) June 10, 2014
Of course, one indifferent season doesn't condemn a player's potential to return to form, particularly one of Schweinsteiger's obvious talent. But, with a host of other needs, Van Gaal might be better served by targeting a younger alternative.
Those options aren't in short supply. In fact, a pair of Van Gaal's fellow countrymen fit the bill nicely and have already been linked with moves to Old Trafford.
Young Netherlands international Jordy Clasie has been mentioned as a possible target, per the Manchester Evening News. The 22-year-old Feyenoord ace is a classy passer who recycles possession intelligently and efficiently.
Clasie would offer similar skills to Schweinsteiger, skills Van Gaal needs to make his quick and expansive passing game work in the Premier League.
An alternative to a possession maestro would be Dutch international Kevin Strootman. The stylish, but physically imposing enforcer is another midfielder Van Gaal admires.
However, the AS Roma star has been laid low by a knee injury. But that hasn't stopped speculation that Van Gaal still intends to make his move.
Jamie Jackson of The Guardian has stated United will tempt Strootman and Roma with a £30 million bid in January:
Louis van Gaal has made Kevin Strootman a £30m January target for Manchester United – and the midfielder would be open to the move should Roma consider it, although there is yet to be any official contact between the clubs.
While Strootman is content at Roma and has four years left on the contract he signed last summer, he is aware of Van Gaal’s interest, with the manager having selected him regularly for the national squad. However, Strootman’s agent, Chiel Dekker, insisted that only if Roma were minded to sell would the transfer occur.
As a player who can anchor the base of midfield and shield a defence, Strootman answers a greater need for United. The team has ample quality ball players in the form of Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj and Shinji Kagawa, but it lacks a competent enforcer.
Strootman certainly fits the bill and represents a smarter investment than paying a similar amount for Schweinsteiger.
United need to build a platform for sustained success, not fall into the trap of leaning on experience for too long, which is why they should avoid Schweinsteiger this summer.