New Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal is planning to bring the man dubbed the “Dutch Xavi” to Old Trafford when he joins the Premier League side after the World Cup. Highly-rated Feyenoord midfielder Jordy Clasie – along with other United target Bruno Martins Indi – is currently away with van Gaal and the Netherlands’ senior players having been named in the provisional squad for the big event in Brazil.
The 22-year-old Clasie has come through the ranks at the Rotterdam club, having joined when he was nine. Clasie went on loan to fellow Dutch side, Excelsior, in the 2010/11 season before coming back a vastly improved player. Now he is set to win a place in van Gaal’s squad come the tournament in Brazil.
Although Clasie is not the strongest of players physically, he has been given the moniker of the “Dutch Xavi” [after Barcelona veteran Xavi Hernández] due to his other match-winning attributes. They include his clever positioning, precision passing and vision. Despite club record signing of Juan Mata, United lack a creative force behind the front two. Whether van Gaal keeps the Spaniard or not – there are reports the former Chelsea man’s United career could be short-lived – Clasie will give the United midfield a much-needed boost and extra creativity it has been in need of.
With Adnan Januzaj likely to be used in a wide role, Clasie will be up against Mata for that deep-lying role, with Shinji Kagawa playing around them. Fellow Dutchman and United forward Robin van Persie has described Clasie as “world class” and so will hope van Gaal brings the new Xavi to Old Trafford as part of the new look Red Devils. However, a host of Europe’s elite clubs are also monitoring the progress of the two players and so van Gaal will be keen to act fast
United incoming boss, van Gaal, is also said to be keen on Clasie’s teammate Indi, who plays in central defense. However, van Gaal will have to walk a very fine line if he is to secure one or both players. His immediate job is to coach the players ahead of and during the World Cup, not convince them to leave Feyenoord. Otherwise there will be reports of unrest in the Dutch camp, something that has plagued the national team over the years. Van Gaal has stated that he never gets involved in transfers and leaves it to the club’s money men, but how United’s negotiators manage to do that whilst the players are with van Gaal will be a story in itself. Nevertheless, it is no secret van Gaal wants to bring both fellow countrymen with him to Old Trafford now that deals to bring Toni Kroos, Cesc Fàbregas and Luke Shaw to Manchester have either ended or stalled.
If former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss van Gaal does bring the Dutch Xaxi and his teammate Indi to United in what is said to be a £30 million deal, Old Trafford will see the first stage of the £200 million rebuilding strategy designed to get them back to the number one spot. The odds on United winning back the title from neighbor Manchester City have already shortened following the exit of David Moyes and appointment of van Gaal. Now he Dutchman must start rebuilding in earnest.
World Cup Preview is a series providing commentary and analysis of the teams and players participating in this year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd