With the arrivals of superstars Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria at Manchester United, it is easy to overlook what was a shrewd signing in the acquisition of Daley Blind.
The signings of Di Maria and Falcao have received much fanfare, and rightfully so—Di Maria adds some much-needed pace and energy to the side, while Falcao looks to be a quality forward and a possible upgrade over Wayne Rooney.
However, while Di Maria and Falcao will certainly bolster a weak-looking United attack, Blind will anchor an even weaker midfield.
With this signing, United finally have that ball-winning defensive midfielder that fans have clamored for.
Last season in the Eredivisie, he averaged 2.7 tackles and 2.6 interceptions per contest, showing his defensive abilities.
While Blind is a very good player in his own right—he won 2013/14 Eridivisie player of the year—his appeal to United lies in the way he could unleash the talents of the players around him.
With the Dutchman anchoring a three-man midfield, Di Maria would be allowed to play on the left-side of central midfield, shuttling up and down the pitch with heavy contributions in the attacking third.
That defensive contribution does not come without playmaking ability, as Blind completed over 88 percent of his passes and notched 1.3 key passes per game last season in league play. His tidy play from a deep role will surely benefit Falcao and Rooney.
The latter has been chastised as of late for his uninspiring play, but he has had to play with the mediocre Tom Cleverley and Darren Fletcher as a midfield two recently. The addition of Blind will surely help his form.
As shown by his reasonable transfer fee of less than £14 million, Blind is by no means a superstar, although he may have been one of the best players in the Dutch league.
For Manchester United, Blind will be asked to contribute without much responsibility, but he will still be important to the team.
Manchester United are in the process of trying to build a super-team but every championship-winning squad in sports history has always had guys that weren't superstars.
If Falcao and Di Maria are to be United's Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of the future, then Blind is something along the lines of John Paxson.
Like Paxson, Blind will occasionally steal the show, but he will mostly be asked to perform his specialty of ball-winning and distributing, just as the former Chicago Bull provided sound defense and three-point shooting.
Not every signing United make can, or should, be a glamorous, headline-grabbing name, as XIs made up completely of newly-signed superstars often struggle to find chemistry.
Despite his talent, Blind will often be overshadowed by his immensely talented and popular teammates during his time at Manchester United.
With his strong defensive ability in the middle of the park, however, it will be Blind that allows his attacking teammates to roam freely, and he just may turn out to be the missing puzzle piece of United's problems.
Stats and info via ESPNFC and WhoScored.com
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