Since the beginning of the season, rumours have been circulating that Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal was targeting his former Oranje player, Kevin Strootman for the Red Devils, and the January transfer window may actually see that come to pass. Despite public statements to the contrary, Serie A club Roma may be finally willing to make the deal after being knocked from the Champions League by Manchester City. The preliminary discussions have been reported for some time now, and United are optimistic now that the current circumstances may prompt Roma to re-open negotiations for the midfielder. The price tag for Strootman is expected to be in the neighborhood of £30 million.
Not everyone is agreed that Strootman is the best choice of additions for United, with a couple of reasons cited for that thinking. Former midfielder, Owen Hargreaves, gave an interview to The Independent where he indicated that he did not believe the Netherlands star was the right fit for what the club needs at the moment. He indicated that while van Gaal is targeting midfielders at the moment, more focus ought to be put on shoring up the defense. Despite their recent success, the defense has been often pointed out as the weak link in the United armor. Given the lackluster performance that allowed Aston Villa to take a lead in Saturday’s match and hold on for a draw, his observations are not without merit. It has also been suggested that the nature of the knee injuries which have sidelined Strootman for much of this season at Roma, it may be optimistic to believe that he will be fully fit and able to contribute significantly by January. Some believe that United would be better served to target Strootman for the summer transfer window instead.
Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels, also heavily featured in rumors surrounding possible United transfer window moves, has emerged as a favorite target for fans and pundits alike. Reports are that his time at Dortmund is coming to an end, and despite reported interest from both Barcelona and Real Madrid, United continues to be suggested as a leading contender. Premier League competitor Arsenal has also expressed an interest, though Hummels’ projected £47 million price tag would be a record expenditure for them, more even than Mesut Ozil’s contract last year, and they are not considered to be a serious suitor at tht moment. Hargreaves also weighed in on the possibility of adding Hummels, saying despite his talents, that his style would add to the passing game, but did not add enough to the defensive side to justify adding him now. Opinions differ greatly on that score, but Hummels remains a frontrunner in the minds of many observers close to the clubs according to reports. Hargreaves did not suggest any players that he would prefer specifically, only mentioning his opinion that the club should be looking for a player with a style similar to Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic instead.
With Boxing Day and the year-end schedule still to go before the transfer window opens, the conversation is just beginning about who van Gaal and Manchester United will or will not be targeting. This is the tiie of year, however, that fans begin their frenzy of speculation and rumor-mongering, looking to see how their club will be positioned for the final leg of the season. With expectations high for United to end the season better than last year, van Gaal is not likely to miss any good opportunity.
Commentary By Jim Malone
Image courtesy of Calcio Mercato – Flickr License