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Manchester United Transfer News: Kevin Strootman Fuels Barcelona, Madrid Rumours

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 29, 2014

ROME, ITALY - JANUARY 12: Kevin Strootman of AS Roma in action during the Serie A match between AS Roma and Genoa CFC at Stadio Olimpico on January 12, 2014 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Just when it seemed Manchester United may hold a lead in their pursuit of a primary target, Kevin Strootman has left the club slightly concerned by the admission he'd love to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Eighteen months after arriving in the Italian capital, Roma general Strootman told Dutch newspaper Voetbal International (h/t Goal.com's Tom Webber) of his desire to play at one of Spain's top institutions.

"I do not see Roma as an intermediate point in my career," Strootman said. "Of course, a player who plays well here can showcase themselves sooner. Everyone wants to play with Real Madrid or Barcelona, but these big clubs are not scouting in Netherlands."

Riccardo De Luca/Associated Press

Strootman contradicts himself in a way. He first assures Giallorossi fans Roma isn't merely a pit stop, but he then suggests Eredivisie stars must move to bigger leagues if they're to be noticed by the true elite.

After suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the build-up to the 2014 World Cup, Strootman is gradually making his way back to full fitness at the Stadio Olimpico.

Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe recently pondered just what impact the Netherlands international can have if he were to move this January, questioning the player's transfer value and chances of moving:

Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal may have felt he held an edge in the race to sign the player, given the fact he once handed Strootman the Oranje captain's armband, but the allure of Real and Barca may prove superior even to United's draw.

Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid are currently the closest thing to an official world champion of club football, having recently won the FIFA Club World Cup to cap off a 2014 in which they also won the Champions League.

Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

Barca are constantly looked upon as one of the finest institutions in the sport, but United's fall from grace in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era has seen their renown suffer in recent years.

It's for that reason Van Gaal may not be so assured regarding his chances of landing Strootman's services in 2015, who Greg Johnson of Squawka sees as something of an ideal acquisition:

Greg Johnson @gregianjohnson

@MaxHarrington93 Or someone like Strootman, with Carrick going CB full-time. I can see Van Gaal doing that.

Greg Johnson @gregianjohnson

@MaxHarrington93 Strootman is both pretty much. That's why Van Gaal loves him. He creates, he protects, he drives, he tackles, he scores...

However, Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News suggests the anchor's lack of pace could be a drawback for United as they seek to add more speed in midfield:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Notable lack of pace in United squad without Di Maria and Januzaj. Drawback of probable Strootman signing is he's not the quickest, either.

Despite their struggles of late, Van Gaal's side are on the rise once again. Manchester United are currently enjoying a nine-game unbeaten streak and are third in the Premier League, albeit still some margin off the likes of Manchester City and leaders Chelsea.

The road to being considered on level terms with the likes of Real and Barcelona has many twists and turns remaining, but convincing Strootman of their future potential will be an important quest for the English giants in 2015.

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