As hard as it is to fathom for many Red Devils supporters, Nigel de Jong is one of the best options available for Manchester United to bolster their struggling midfield over the summer transfer window.
Yes, that Nigel de Jong.
But now, Louis van Gaal—who is presently coaching De Jong for the Dutch national team in Brazil—is courting him to join the rival side in Manchester, according to the Mirror's Steve Bates:
Louis van Gaal wants to make Dutch World Cup villain Nigel de Jong a Manchester United player, writes Steve Bates in the Sunday People.
Holland coach Van Gaal has told the Old Trafford giants' executive vice chairman Ed Woodward to pursue a £6million deal for the AC Milan midfield enforcer – even though de Jong was a fan favourite at bitter rivals Manchester City.
But no club needs quality midfielders, especially those of De Jong's caliber and expertise, more than the Red Devils.
Manchester United's midfield is a mess. With an aging core of Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher, many younger players brought in—Marouane Fellaini among them—haven't fulfilled expectations.
Juan Mata was a big addition over the course of the season, but the best players alongside him in the midfield are attacking wingers. There's no true midfielder to stay home, play defense and keep things contained.
That's where De Jong comes in. As a big-bodied player, he excels at using his size and prowess to help his side control things in the midfield.
Football journalist Elko Born summed up what makes De Jong so vital to a team, in the words of Netherlands teammate Wesley Sneijder:
Plus, if there's one thing De Jong is known for above all else, it's his grittiness and his ability to impact the match with his physicality. United could certainly use an injection of that after one of the worst seasons they've ever had.
Manchester United's lineup is filled with the talent that suggests they can make a run at any title they choose to. But they won't do so without a staple in the midfield to keep things in control, and they simply did not have that last season.
Of course, De Jong has crossed the line once or twice. But as OptaJohan noted, his physical play has rarely resulted in his side going down a man:
De Jong has been taking to Twitter to share his experiences from Brazil:
At 29 years of age, de Jong has never been more relevant in the scope of world football than he is now. He has years of experience at the EPL level to lean on, is still a staple of his national team—that happens to be coached by the new United manager—and plays an integral role in any winning club.
On top of that, he can arrive at a relatively cheap price for a club that is still in financial turmoil.
Manchester United had a shortage of winners in 2013-14, and undoubtedly every move they make over the summer transfer window will be with a Premier League title in mind.
Getting De Jong may not be the only move United need to make in order to become title favorites heading into the upcoming campaign, but it would be a massive step forward for the Red Devils.
Follow Steven on Twitter.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!