Piece by piece, Louis van Gaal's trial in taking Manchester United's squad back to its previous standards of world-class quality is coming together this summer.
The Dutchman is focused with the Red Devils' preseason preparations at present, but is also well underway in his bid to recruit superstar talents for his 2014-15 campaign.
The latest speculation sees Van Gaal's efforts centralised around Serie A and Bundesliga talents, with new developments emerging around those powers being linked with an Old Trafford switch.
United's central midfield ranks have been boosted by the arrival of Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao already this summer, but Kevin Strootman is once again a major target for the English giants.
Prior to United's friendly win over Roma on Saturday, Van Gaal disclosed his admiration for Strootman, still contending with the injury that ruled him out of the Netherlands' World Cup campaign, per Sky Sports:
I never say anything about individual players - it's my vision that we have to be about the team and not individual players. Other players, not at Manchester United, I can't judge - I am not there. Strootman I can judge, but he has been injured for more than six months.
We have to wait and see how he comes back. It's not so easy to come back out of an injury, so we'll wait and see.
Strootman of course isn't the first Oranje star allegedly drawing the attention of his former national team coach, but the Telegraph's Mark Ogden quoted Giallorossi boss Rudi Garcia in hinting that it would take a fee of more than £100 million to prise the anchorman away:
Roma coach Garcia on Utd / Strootman - "What can I say about rumours? Maybe after a three digiit offer we'll sit down and think about it.— Mark Ogden (@MOgdenTelegraph) July 26, 2014
Since arriving from PSV last summer, Strootman has become a vital cog in Roma's machine, and it's unsurprising that the Italians are protective of a player so essential to their hopes of overturning Juventus' hold on the Scudetto.
Manchester United may have to move on from their pursuit of 2014 World Cup winner Mats Hummels after Borussia Dortmund reiterated an unwillingness to sell their star defender.
The departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have left United's defence somewhat lacking in pedigree, and a source close to the German outfit is quoted by the Mirror's Tom Hopkinson as saying:
"We’ve spoken with the player and it is true that some clubs are interested, but we have rejected the chance to negotiate. Mats is happy in Dortmund and will be with us next term."
Hopkinson goes on to report that United's valuation of the player is £7 million short of his £23 million release clause, but Peter Hall of Sky Sports suggests that the centre-back would be worth splurging for:
Said it before, but in 3-5-2 formation, Hummels would be perfect. Vermaelen on the cheap excellent cover. Daley Blind also an option. #MUFC— Peter Hall (@PeteHall86) July 25, 2014
Th Red Devils have long been associated with Hummels, who left Bayern Munich in 2009, just as Van Gaal was assuming the club's helm, but may have to give up their chase in order to assess more promising options.
Who's the better value option for United?
Despite recent comments from the midfielder inferring that he won't be moving to Old Trafford this summer, Manchester United will not give up their chase for Juve talisman Arturo Vidal.
The Chilean faced Van Gaal's Netherlands side in the group stages of this year's World Cup, with the Mirror's Steve Bates and Tom Hopkinson writing that a £35 million move could be finalised this week.
This comes after the player was quoted by Sky Sports Italia in saying that he won't be moving to Old Trafford, and when asked if he was heading to Manchester United, replied: "No, no."
Eredivisie writer Michiel Jongsma suggests that while Vidal is a superb box-to-box performer, the aforementioned Strootman could be a more rounded option for Van Gaal:
@PeteHall86 More of a playmaker. Vidal is a typical box-to-box man and wonderful at that, but Strootman adds a bit of tactical nous.— Michiel Jongsma (@JongsmaJongsma) July 26, 2014
Antonio Conte's shock exit from Juventus has seen the club's management void filled by Massimiliano Allegri, and it's not yet apparent what effect, if any, the change is having on star members of the squad.