Louis van Gaal's remodelling of Manchester United's ranks means the club are already preparing for January's transfer window, with a move for Roma's Kevin Strootman in the works.
An anterior cruciate ligament injury has seen the Dutchman sidelined since March and ruled him out of the 2014 World Cup, but the Daily Mail's Chris Wheeler writes that a winter move is on the agenda.
Although six players have arrived at Old Trafford — including Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria — United expect to be busy in the next few transfer windows, according to senior club sources.
There are concerns that Louis van Gaal’s squad still needs strengthening in defence and midfield, and Roma’s Kevin Strootman has already been lined up as a £25m target in January when the Holland star will have fully recovered from a serious knee injury.
Van Gaal may have looked to solve his midfield woes with a move for Strootman this summer were it not for his long-term lay-off, but it's expected the "next few transfer windows" will each see United conducting further big-money business.
The Guardian's Jamie Jackson echoes the belief that, despite spending more than £150 million this summer on the likes of Angel Di Maria (£59.7 million), Ander Herrera (£28 million), Luke Shaw (£27 million) and Radamel Falcao (£6 million loan), the Red Devils will be busy in January.
Back in June, Jackson quoted Strootman's agent Chiel Dekker commenting on the Old Trafford speculation:
The first thing is it’s all between the clubs. And it’s also a very difficult decision because he has to choose between a fantastic club in Rome, a club that bought him and supported him while he was injured and [then] you have his personal coach of the national team at United.
The clubs have to decide. He’s very happy at Rome, he’s happy to stay because they play Champions League next season and happy to recover [from] his injury, so at this stage we are not part of any discussion.
The midfielder was a respected figure upon leaving PSV in 2013, but a maiden campaign in Serie A proved Strootman is a capable asset on Europe's elite stage, and one the Giallorossi will assuredly hope to retain.
Despite his injury, Roma have placed great faith in the Dutchman's return after ESPN FC's Julian de Martinis confirmed the sidelined star had been included in their Champions League squad:
Set for a return in October, Strootman will then have a three-month window in which to prove his fitness to Van Gaal, although the ex-Netherlands national team coach may be willing to invest in the existing knowledge he possesses of his former charge.
BBC Sport's Howard Nurse and Miguel Delaney of ESPN FC both see Strootman as a realistic mid-season recruit:
Howard Nurse @howardnurse
@thedavidbyer Strootman possible in Jan.9/2/2014, 6:53:58 PM
Miguel Delaney @MiguelDelaney
@Carlabrien Strootman I'd say9/2/2014, 10:10:03 AM
Coming back from an anterior cruciate ligament injury will likely stunt the anchorman's progress somewhat, but having mentored his development in the national side, Van Gaal will be familiar with the talent in his sights.
The deal will indeed be affected by how each side are doing in January, of course. Roma are hoping to challenge Juventus for Scudetto honours this term, while United simply hope to escape their recent mediocrity.
Of this summer's signings, Di Maria, Herrera and Daley Blind will look to have an impact on the Reds' midfield, but the side still didn't sign the elite box-to-box presence they've lacked for some time now.
In time, Blind could prove his worth in that regard, but Van Gaal may wish to utilise him more extensively in defence, and Strootman would be the more natural asset in the engine-room role.
Linked with a switch to Old Trafford for several years now, Strootman's ties have only intensified now that a figure like Van Gaal, so closely intertwined with his career path, is involved in a potential deal.
That advantage in personal connection may pay dividends in January as United go in search of further reinforcements, Strootman topping the list of those likely to arrive.
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