Is Strootman the missing link in Manchester United's midfield?
It is clear to see that Manchester United have been lacking an anchorman midfielder for years now. With every transfer window came new names, and more false hope for fans across the country. One name that has appeared to stick however is that of Kevin Strootman. As long as three seasons ago, there were rumours in Holland when Strootman was with PSV, that Alex Ferguson was sounding him out ahead of a possible move to Old Trafford. Again, from January onwards the following season, Strootman was seemingly quizzed week in whether he would be making to move to Manchester.
However, with the retirement of long time admirer Sir Alex Ferguson, interest appeared to disappear. New manager David Moyes opted instead to splash £27m on Marouane Fellaini – a decision which may have contributed in part to his eventual sacking in April. Strootman though joined Roma for £14m in summer 2013 – and went on to be one of Roma’s top performers before his devastating Cruciate Ligament tear in March that has put him out of the World Cup.
The arrival of Holland manager Louis Van Gaal to Manchester United has again brought fresh rumours about Strootman, something which some Red Devils fans must be sick of hearing by now. Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport have reported this week that Roma Director of Football Walter Sabbatini is now willing to accept a bid in the region of £28m for the midfielder.
A summer move could be a risk though. Strootman is not set to return to relative fitness until around October, and even at that he will take a further few months to settle back into the thick of the action after such an injury.
For a deep Midfielder with the obvious Defensive qualities he has, Strootman also showed his attacking prowess with Roma last season. Despite missing over a third of the league season, Strootman managed the score 5 goals and register 6 assists too. Additionally, he averaged 2 key passes per league game, with a pass accuracy of 88%.
For a 24 year old playing in a position as key as Defensive Midfield, his composure and reading of the game is virtually unrivalled. One of United’s problems of late has been their inability to control a game in midfield. In that aspect, Strootman excels. In the opposition half, his pass accuracy is an impressive 86% – higher than any Manchester United player last season. He also completed more tackles than any Manchester United midfielder, and won more aerial duels too.
I have no doubt that a fully fit Kevin Strootman would be a resounding success if Manchester United did finally sign the Midfield man. If I was Van Gaal however, I would wait until January before moving in for him. All Cruciate ligament injuries are different, and each person reacts differently to the rehabilitation process. For that reason I would give Strootman time to sufficiently recover, and then regain his confidence in the opening months of the season in the Serie A with Roma, before making him the number 1 target in January.
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