Should Manchester United Risk on the Fitness of Kevin Strootman and Make a Bid?

Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2014

AS Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman, of the Netherlands, celebrates after scoring during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Roma at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

The marriage of Louis van Gaal and Manchester United has begun with a flourish with the Red Devils sparkling on their tour of the USA.

The Old Trafford club collected the Chevrolet Cup and the International Champions Cup trophies on their travels stateside, defeating luminaries such as Real Madrid and Liverpool.

But the honeymoon will soon be over as LvG looks to cement his starting line-up and prepare his team for the cold winter ahead.

During United's pre-season, experienced campaigner Darren Fletcher has impressed, with new signing Ander Herrera looking comfortable in his new midfield surroundings.

Tom Cleverley has also looked content with applying Van Gaal's 5-3-2 tactic and United's centre has looked solid.

However, there is still a lack of world-class quality to the team's core and this will surely be Van Gaal's main concern before the transfer window shuts down.

And as the chase for Arturo Vidal appears to have concluded, with the player declaring his allegiance to Juventus, per James Orr of The Independent, United are sure to review their big-name transfer target list.

It is no surprise that LvG is a big fan of Roma's Kevin Strootman—on whom he centred his Netherlands midfield—before serious injury robbed him of a starring role at the World Cup finals.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 04: (L) Ryan Giggs and manager of Manchester United Louis Van Gaal sit on the bench prior to the game against Liverpool in the Guinness International Champions Cup 2014 Final at Sun Life Stadium on August 4, 2014 in Miami Garden
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

And Greg Stobart of Goal.com believes that the new United boss is "desperate" to be reunited with his former player and says that he is the target that will sufficiently fulfil his tactical philosophy at Old Trafford.

Indeed, Strootman's injury made Van Gaal decide that he should scrap his famed 4-3-3 system for the Netherlands for a more solid 5-3-2—all because of Strootman's enforced absence. Van Gaal truly respects the player's influence and ability. 

And in United's absence of a world-class midfielder, LvG has carried on with the principle of 5-3-2 until he finds a player of Strootman's class—And he might have to purchase the real thing to take United in the direction he truly wants.

NAPLES, ITALY - MARCH 09:  Kevin Strootman of Roma lies injured during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and AS Roma at Stadio San Paolo on March 9, 2014 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

However, Strootman's recovery is a huge issue and it is questionable whether the United board of directors would sanction a move for a player who the Italians appear to value at £79 million, per ESPN.

It is highly unlikely Van Gaal will be granted the wish, with Strootman still to prove his health.

And Van Gaal himself admitted this point when he said recently, 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.

The deciding factor on an immediate move for Strootman will be directly linked to whether Van Gaal believes United can cope without a marquee central-midfield capture during this window.

The successful pre-season tour suggests that maybe they can—but this will mean that LvG will continue to employ 5-3-2 and alter his natural style—and this is something he looks willing to do.

Strootman is essential to the long-term rebuilding programme at United, but patience is needed at present.

The club has been stung in the past with the signing of Owen Hargreaves—it is no use having a top midfielder who is not fit enough to participate.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - NOVEMBER 19:  Kevin Strootman of Netherlands runs with the ball during the International Friendly match between Netherlands and Colombia at Amsterdam ArenA on November 19, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Gett
Lars Baron/Getty Images

Strootman needs another season under his belt in Serie A and then Van Gaal should move for him. This is not to say that United should not add another option immediate to their midfield stock, but if Strootman is the player that LvG believes in, then United should set the wheels in motion for his transfer and complete the deal in 12 months' time. 

The Red Devils still need a centre-back and auxiliary central midfielder, and both positional captures will need to be completed in the next few weeks. 

United's squad is not as dilapidated as their last Premier League position suggested, but the team will need to learn how to walk once again before it can run.

Last season was a nasty experience for the players and fans—success is by no means guaranteed in 2014-15. 

But Van Gaal has taken the first steps to recovery and he can make his side compete at the top level if his next couple of purchases are shrewd and well planned.