Although Patrice Evra's one-year contract extension at Old Trafford gives Manchester United cause for comfort at left-back, Daley Blind has risen as a potential target for the Red Devils this summer.
And after impressing in his World Cup debut for the Netherlands during their 5-1 routing of Spain last week, Louis van Gaal should be eyeing his countryman as not just cheaper, but a better alternative to Luke Shaw.
However, Blind isn't paying any attention to his summer prospects just yet, telling Dutch outlet NOS (h/t Sky Sports): "I entirely close out all that reports. I am now here at the Dutch national team and that is where I want to focus myself on."
Despite having played just one game, OptaJean shows that Blind has taken no time in ascending to the top of the World Cup assist charts:
2 - @Serge_Aurier is the joint-top assist provider at the 2014 World Cup, with Daley Blind & Juan Cuadrado. Instantaneous.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 15, 2014
Under Frank de Boer, the 24-year-old has received ample Eredivisie playing time and been heavily involved in Ajax's Champions League competition in recent seasons.
What's remarkable is that the player managed to spread his workload so diligently yet consistently between left-back and an anchoring midfield role, putting him above the rest of his team in terms of tackles made, per OptaJohan:
77 - Daley Blind made 77 tackles this season, more than any other Ajax player in the Eredivisie. #Oranje23— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) May 31, 2014
It's a versatility that Van Gaal undoubtedly finds alluring, not least of which because the utility player can occupy two areas in which United just happen to be in most desperate need of reinforcements.
Blind's performance against Spain has served as his announcement to a more global audience, a stamping on the international scene that STV's Graham Ruthven certainly didn't fail to recognise:
Daley Blind is a great player, and showed that against Spain. Surely better value than Luke Shaw?— Graham Ruthven (@grahamruthven) June 16, 2014
Whereas Luke Shaw has the magnetism that all young English stars tend to have when it comes to the Premier League's elite, there is now another attractive option on the Red Devils' table.
Who should United make bigger efforts to sign this summer?
And that's not to mention the fact that Van Gaal's links with the Oranje and KNVB will only boost the club's chances of landing Blind should they look to strike a deal.
Ajax will assuredly fight to keep hold of their malleable marauder, but the likes of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Gregory van der Wiel have all parted ways with the club in recent years, showing business can be done.
Depending largely on the system that Van Gaal will look to employ, Blind looks to be the kind of asset who could fit around most strategies, whether it involved a three, four or five-man defence.
What's more, there's little risk of the player becoming disillusioned at Old Trafford or forcing a rift with the helmsman, as he's already worked extensively under Van Gaal since coming into the international fold.
There aren't many factors in the deal that would paint Shaw as a more suitable target than Blind other than the six years age difference, but even then Blind is at a very acceptable period in his career to warrant investment.