There was always going to be a strong cause for the media significantly speculating about Manchester United’s transfer plans once a new manager was appointed.
As was to be expected thanks to the poor fortunes of the Red Devils' last campaign, the majority of the focus on the issues Louis van Gaal needs to address has been centered around the need for squad improvement. Certain first-team stars are to be shipped, numerous European talents are being eyed for Old Trafford arrivals and a good deal of attention is being paid to the potential transfer battles which may ensue during the summer window.
For Van Gaal’s part, it seems that the veteran manager is primarily occupying himself with affairs that concern the players he currently has at his disposal. Rightly or wrongly the 62-year-old has already made the decision to hand both Patrice Evra and Antonio Valencia new contracts, and there’s a fair chunk of speculation which claims the Dutchman already knows who he wants to be his captain next season.
Then there’s the subject of his three stars players; Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata. Reports yesterday alleged that Van Gaal has already made his mind up with how to succeed where David Moyes failed and get the very best out of one of the most potent attacking trios in the Premier League. Moving Rooney back into a deeper midfield position and handing Mata the coveted No.10 role is what he supposedly has in mind. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but on face value it’s as good an idea as is likely to be forged this summer.
Firstly there’s Rooney’s versatility to consider, and whether or not the England international could influence the game as much from the middle of the park. Though many have tipped the 28-year-old to make the transition as his years advance, the idea of him being pushed back whilst technically in the prime of his career could baffle those who argue that he’s at his most dangerous with the goal at his mercy.
That being said Van Gaal knows that Rooney’s passing range is well above that of an average striker, and his work ethic makes him a perfect candidate to hold things together defensively whilst promising a lethal link up between the midfield and attack.
MATA’S KEY AT NO.10
The crux of Van Gaal’s decision however will surely centre around getting the best out of Mata. The Spaniard was in decent form following his shock January switch from Chelsea, but a fair assessment would conclude that he has plenty more to offer if United can get the best out of him. At his scintillating best Mata is capable of unlocking the tightest defences with his extraordinary eye for detail and Tiki-Taka flair, but when pushed out wide his edge is somewhat blunted.
For Van Gaal to get the absolute best out of his trio he needs to stand by his rumoured decision to make Mata his first-choice playmaker directly behind Van Persie, and allow the Spain international the opportunity to impact creatively upon games in the same way he did for Chelsea prior to Jose Mourinho’s reign.
IMPORTANCE OF THE TRIO
There can be no understating the importance of the aforementioned trio next season, particularly as it looks as though the acquisition of defence minded players is what Van Gaal appears to be fixated on. When on song Mata, Van Persie and Rooney are more than a match for the majority of back lines they will expect to come up against, and fans will be expecting them to fire them back up the Premier League table.
For Van Gaal to give them the best chance of doing that however, he needs to make a big call and solidify Mata’s position at No.10.