When Louis van Gaal took over as the new Manchester United manager earlier this summer, a period of major change for the Premier League giants was set in motion.
Last season’s project, which saw the club aim for consistency by smoothly transferring power from the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson to his appointed successor David Moyes, had failed. Now, Van Gaal was asked to destroy and rebuild.
Consequently, United parted ways with some of the club’s most experienced and loyal players. Nemanja Vidic, one of the club’s best defenders, and Rio Ferdinand, who had been constitutive at the back for so long, moved on to different clubs. A little while later, veteran and vice-captain Patrice Evra also left.
Young and talented players were purchased. Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, from Athletic Bilbao and Southampton, respectively, joined the club, while rumours about more transfer business—incoming and outgoing—started to crop up more and more.
But Herrera and Shaw were players the club had been following for a while. Reportedly, they were targets pinpointed in the previous season, under David Moyes, as per David Anderson of the Daily Mirror. Of course, Van Gaal will have given his OK, letting the club know these are players he can and will use. They are not, however, players he identified himself.
With a few more weeks to go until the transfer window closes, the expectation is that Van Gaal will still go after players of his own choice, and while it has remained quiet on that front so far, it is also expected he will at least look at some of the players he had under his wing when he was Netherlands boss during the World Cup.
Out of all the players who represented Oranje in Brazil, Daley Blind would be the target that fits Manchester United the most. There are a couple of reasons to make this assertion.
First of all, Blind can play as a left-back, the position he used to play when he first broke through at Ajax. During the World Cup, Blind showed what he was capable of in that role, constantly providing width and delivering the assist for Robin van Persie’s wonder goal against Spain.
Since Evra’s and Alexander Buttner’s departures, United need a player in this position. Of course, new signing Shaw will likely feature heavily as a left-back, but the 19-year-old will need back-up, especially since his manager seems to think he is struggling with some fitness issues.
Second, Blind can play as a defensive midfielder, the position in which Ajax manager Frank de Boer usually deploys him these days. As a defensive midfielder, Blind became Dutch player of the year last season, constantly winning balls in midfield and setting up new attacks like a true midfield general.
Finally, Blind can play as one of the three centre-backs in a back three. Blind did this during the World Cup, after Bruno Martins Indi suffered an injury and Dirk Kuyt had been deployed in the left-back position. With Van Gaal currently using a 3-5-2 at Manchester United, the club is in need of an extra defender capable of functioning in this role.
When Blind was brought on from the substitutes bench during the second half of Ajax’s match against title rivals Vitesse this weekend, the Ajax crowd went wild. They welcomed their hero back with open arms after his impressive World Cup campaign.
The Amsterdam based club will not look forward to letting their man go. Without a doubt, Blind is one of their best players in multiple positions. He came through the ranks of the club’s academy, he is the son of club legend Danny Blind, and what’s more, after this summer’s performance, he has reached maturity as a player.
During the World Cup, Van Gaal got the most out of Blind, and should the versatile defender and midfielder desire a move, Manchester United seems like the perfect destination for him.
From all perspectives, it makes perfect sense: Blind should be the next Eredivisie player Van Gaal targets for Manchester United.
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