As Louis van Gaal prepares to switch his focus from the Netherlands’ World Cup campaign to his new job as Manchester United manager, the Dutchman will report for duty at Old Trafford after spending the past month watching some of the world’s best players.
With no European football on the agenda for United this season, van Gaal will need to convince any new signings to look beyond this year, where the Dutchman will be hoping to have led the club back into the Champions League. With fans still undecided over United’s potential this season, van Gaal knows he faces a big job on his hands to try and assemble a squad capable of challenging for next year’s title.
While Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera have already been signed this summer, United are expected to continue to be active in the transfer market in the run-up to the new Premier League season. With van Gaal reportedly looking at signing another four or five key players to bolster this United squad, the papers are linking the Dutchman with a number of players who caught the eye during the past month in Brazil.
In what appears to be a yearly pursuit, United are once again looking to try and sign Wesley Sneijder. The Dutchman played under van Gaal during this summer’s World Cup in Brazil and it looks as though this could be United’s best chance of signing a player they have held a long-term interest in. The Premier League club have tried to sign Sniejder on a number of occasions in recent years and it looks as though this summer could be their best chance of signing the 30-year old.
The playmaker was one of the Netherlands’ stand-out players during the World Cup, scoring the all-important equaliser in the 88th minute of Holland’s round of 16 clash against Mexico. While the former Real Madrid star’s tournament ended with a missed penalty in the semi-final shootout defeat to Argentina, Sneijder showed again that he is still one of European football’s best attacking midfielders.
Manchester United are one of a number of European clubs looking to sign Sneijder this summer, but van Gaal’s presence at Old Trafford could put the Premier League giants at the front of the queue. But with a transfer release clause of 20 million Euros, it looks as though United could face a battle on their hands to sign Sneijder. Ambitious Ligue 1 side Monaco have been public in their hopes of signing the Dutchman, but at the moment it’s Manchester United who are favourites.
Angel Di Maria
While much of the focus at this summer’s World Cup was on Argentina’s Lionel Messi, there is a strong argument to say that it has been Angel Di Maria who has been the South American’s stand-out player in Brazil. The Real Madrid midfielder has been the beating heartbeat in the middle of the Argentine body during the tournament, although a thigh strain kept Di Maria out of semi-final victory over Holland. Argentina will be doing everything they can to ensure the midfielder recovers in time to take his place in the World Cup final against Germany.
Blessed with strength and speed as well as exceptional vision and passing ability, Di Maria has everything needed to succeed in the Premier League. While Real Madrid have made no noises over selling the 26-year old, a bid of around £40 million is believed to be enough to tempt the Spanish giants to sell. Di Maria, however, has always maintained he is happy at the Bernabeu but the Argentina international was believed to be close to leaving Madrid last January.
The Germany international has been one of the best defenders in Brazil this summer, and the centre-back’s performances haven’t gone unnoticed at Old Trafford. Following the departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at the end of last season, the club know that defenders are high on van Gaal’s shopping list this summer.
The Borussia Dortmund star has been one of the Bundesliga’s most consistent defenders in recent years, playing a crucial role in his club’s success in recent years. While Dortmund would be far from keen on selling Hummels, an offer of around £30 million could be enough to tempt the German side to cash in on the defender and sell to United.
Van Gaal is well aware of Hummels’ ability after coaching the defender when both men were at Bayern Munich. The German international’s reputation has soared during the World Cup and there are believed to be a number of European sides monitoring Hummels’ situation at Dortmund. But while there won’t be any shortage of interest in the 25-year old, United are only one of a few clubs in the world who would be willing to shell out around £30 million to sign Hummels.
As it stands, United’s central defence will consist of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling next season. While both players have the potential to become very decent defenders in the future, van Gaal will be desperate to add some experience to his defensive ranks before the end of this transfer window as he looks to bolster a defence that leaked goals throughout last season.
Following their impressive performance in Brazil this summer, it’s a little surprising to see so many members of the Colombia squad in demand during this transfer window. While James Rodriguez took the majority of the headlines following his six goals in five games, winger Juan Cuadrado certainly caught the eye during the World Cup. The 26-year old only completed his permanent move to Serie A side Fiorentina last month, but the pacey forward could be on his move again before the end of the transfer window if United come calling.
Valued at around the £30 million mark, United would have to splash the cash to tempt Fiorentina to sell, but after his performances in Brazil this summer, van Gaal could be convinced that Cuadrado could be the man to replace Antonio Valencia or Ashley Young. Able to play on either wing, Cuadrado has all the attributes to be an extremely effective winger in the Premier League. His form in Serie A over the years proves that the World Cup was no fluke for Cuadrado, and a move to Old Trafford could be chance the Colombian needs to establish himself as top player.
While Patrice Evra has recently made the move to Italy with Juventus, Arturo Vidal could be set to go the opposite way. The Chilean attacker was a key reason behind Juventus defending their Serie A crown last year, but there have been murmurings suggesting the Italians could be convinced to cash in on the midfielder if a sizeable offer comes their way. Vidal was unfortunate to be struggling with an injury for much of Chile’s World Cup campaign, but the 27-year old did show glimpses of what he is capable of during the tournament.
Able to play anywhere across the centre of the park, United would be getting a player capable of creating chances, scoring chances and stopping chances. While his strength may lie moving forward, Vidal would add some bite to a midfield that seriously lacked fight during last season’s shambolic campaign. Now entering the prime of his career, United fans would be rightly excited about the prospect of seeing a midfield consisting of Vidal and Di Maria.
Another player would cost in excess of around £30 million, and it remains to be seen just how high on van Gaal’s list Vidal is. One possibility would be a cash-plus-player deal involving Portuguese winger Nani, who is rumoured to be one of the current United squad van Gaal would be willing to sell this summer as he looks to stamp his authority on the squad.
Another Dutchman van Gaal is looking at bringing with him to Old Trafford is Daryl Janmaat. The right back is entering the final year of his contract at Feyenoord and the Dutch club would be interested in a switch to Old Trafford. While most of United’s targets would set them back significant sums, Janmaat could be signed for a relatively reasonable fee now that he has made it clear to Feyenoord he won’t be signing a contract extension.
The 24-year old was a key part of Holland’s World Cup squad in Brazil, starting every game under van Gaal and showing himself to be one of the most consistent right backs in the tournament. As well as knowing how the new United manager likes to play, Janmaat would also add some valuable options at right back and provide competition for young Rafael de Silva. While both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are capable of playing at right back, neither can provide the sort of width that Janmaat brings to his teams.
Available for around £7 million, there won’t be a shortage of offers for Janmaat should he decide to leave Holland this summer. Both Manchester City and Arsenal are believed to be monitoring the situation and could be tempted to try and usurp United by making an early move for the wing back. But van Gaal’s presence at United could put them in pole position to sign the in-demand defender.
The 22-year old may not have hit the heights with Portugal this summer, but that hasn’t stopped the hype surrounding the young Sporting Lisbon midfielder. While signing a new defensive midfielder may not be the most pressing of issues for van Gaal, there is no doubt Carvalho is one of the most exciting prospects in world football. With a price tag of £37.5 million, United would have to pay over the odds for a player who was key to Sporting finishing last season second in the league ahead of Porto.
Whether or not United try and push forward with a move for the Portuguese youngster could come down to their success in signing Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal. Van Gaal has reportedly singled out Carvalho as his second choice option should the deal for Vidal fail to materialise. But while United appear to be umming and ahhing regarding Carvalho, there are a number of clubs throughout Europe who have sat up and taken notice of the midfielder over the past year. Still yet to reach his prime, United would be signing a player who is still yet to fulfil all his potential.
The final Dutchman believed to be on van Gaal radar is versatile wing-back Daley Blind. The Ajax star emerged as one of the Holland’s stars during their World Cup campaign, producing a string of impressive performances as the Dutch reached the semi-finals in Brazil. With Patrice Evra on the verge of sealing a deal to move to Juventus, van Gaal has singled out Blind as a player he wants to bring in to add competition for places.
While Luke Shaw has been signed as Evra’s replacement, that’s not to say van Gaal doesn’t want strength in depth and another option wouldn’t hurt the new United manager. And because Blind is capable of playing in a number of positions along the back line or in midfield, the Holland international’s versatility also makes him a very useful player to have in your squad. Plus, having a proven international challenging Luke Shaw for his place would only help the England youngster become a better player.
The son of former Holland star and current coach, Danny Blind, Daley finds himself on the shopping lists of the majority of European football’s elite following is showing in Brazil. Whether van Gaal’s presence at Old Trafford sways the 24-year old’s decision remains to be seen, but Daley would be a perfect signing for the new manager looking to make a mark on his new squad.