When the Netherlands reached the World Cup semi-finals in Brazil, two sets of fans had reasons to celebrate: the Dutch, naturally, and Manchester United supporters.
Not that the Old Trafford faithful have some kind of bond with the men in orange, but the way that soon-to-be United manager Louis van Gaal led a very ordinary team to the last four will bring endless encouragement to the Red Devils.
Far from an ordinary team in the Premier League era, Manchester United were made to look just that under the guidance of David Moyes last term, but with Van Gaal stepping in when the Dutch return from South America, the wind of change is blowing in Manchester.
United have already secured the services of Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera for the upcoming campaign, but you get the feeling that business is only just beginning. Here, we look at the two players rumoured to be in line for a move to the Theatre of Dreams when Van Gaal officially takes the reins.
Arturo Vidal, Juventus
The prospect of Chile international Arturo Vidal donning the famous red shirt next season has been dismissed by fans and pundits alike, but the move could well be closer than many expect.
As Rhys Turrell of the Daily Star reported, Chilean media claim that Juventus have accepted a £32 million bid from Manchester United for Vidal, with left-back Patrice Evra moving in the opposite direction as part of the deal.
Though the versatile midfielder has been a star for the Turin club since his arrival in 2011, he cast his own future in doubt in an interview with Sky Italia (h/t Goal.com's Vaishali Bhardwaj), saying last month that he is unsure where he’ll be next season:
"Will I stay at Juventus? I do not know. I just think about the World Cup and the national team now. After the World Cup we will see what will be my future."
Now that Chile’s World Cup campaign is over, Van Gaal will hope to pounce on the chance to bring Vidal to Manchester no matter the cost—and who could blame him?
The 27-year-old was outstanding for Juventus last season and brought his form into the World Cup with Chile, winning plaudits from ESPN’s Kevin Palmer in the process:
His ability to score and create goals while also being a tough tackler in the heart of midfield is what gives Vidal so much appeal, and Van Gaal is one of many who can clearly see that.
Angel Di Maria, Real Madrid
Why Real Madrid would want to part with one of their brightest stars of last season, Angel Di Maria, baffles even football’s brightest minds, but it’s not something that Manchester United are going to sit back and worry about.
Though linked to a whole host of clubs, the Argentina international looks odds on to join the Van Gaal revolution in Manchester, as Charles Reynolds of The Independent reports.
Reynolds writes that Di Maria has agreed personal terms with United, with his weekly wage rumoured to be around £150,000.
The Argentine scored seven goals and created 22 more across La Liga and the Champions League last year, according to WhoScored.com. He would undoubtedly be the kind of exciting player United need in their ranks.
However, with Champions League football not on offer at Old Trafford next season, the 26-year-old could be in favour of a move elsewhere, and John Cross of the Mirror revealed that Di Maria is ready to snub a move to Manchester.
Instead, the winger will reportedly be looking to move to one of his other suitors, Paris Saint-Germain or Juventus, though the latter are unlikely to have the funds to secure his signature.
It looks like bad news for United fans, but ESPN’s Jonathan Johnson has given them cause for optimism, revealing that Real are keen to avoid letting Di Maria head to the French capital—per AS:
Whatever the result of the Di Maria transfer saga, Real look keen to cash in on the highly rated star, and what’s their loss may well be United’s gain.
Vidal and Di Maria are two players of the most explosive calibre, and luring them to Old Trafford will prove a tough task. However, as Van Gaal has proved during his fruitful career, anything is possible under his guidance.
Rebuilding the squad will be job No. 1 on the Dutchman’s mission to restore the club’s elite status, and securing Vidal and Di Maria would go a long way to bringing back the glory days.