Such was the tone with which Louis van Gaal delivered the news that Michael Carrick had sustained a surprise ankle injury, during his first Manchester United press conference, one might have been forgiven for thinking he’d only just heard it himself.
The dismay which resonated from the Dutchman was there for all to see, and instantly the web went wild with speculation over how long Carrick could be out for. Of course it took United little time to clarify that in fact the Englishman is only facing up to three months out of action, with 12 weeks being considered as the expected layoff.
And yet within those three months everything may have changed at Old Trafford. Van Gaal has huge plans for the club, and Carrick’s injury couldn’t have come at a worse time, on a personal note at least.
For if any fibre of United’s new manager was inclined to purchase a new central midfielder - as the media masses believe true - then it has now been amplified a thousand times over. Carrick may well return before next season has really started to pick up pace, but whether he’ll have a position to return to is another matter entirely.
Today Spanish sources have take the initiative and come out all guns blazing with regards to the man Van Gaal is supposedly keen on bringing into his Old Trafford fold. According to Sport Witness, citing Spanish publication Sport, Nigel de Jong could well be the subject of an £8million bid soon, as the Red Devils plan on acquiring a natural ball-winner to partner new signing Ander Herrera in the middle of the park.
The ex-Manchester City man is notoriously no-nonsense in his approach to his business, but his attitude and will to win could well make him a hit at United were he to consent to such a move. On top of that he remains just 29, meaning he’s around four years Carrick’s junior - hard to believe, I know.
And whilst many of United’s most passionate followers would frown at the idea of replacing Carrick while he lays on the injury table, there’s can be no questioning that De Jong wouldn’t significantly strengthen Van Gaal’s side defensively, which may be particularly key next term as they face life without Nemanja Vidic or Rio Ferdinand.
True, he’s nowhere near as promising a prospect as Paul Pogba, not nearly as able a threat moving forward as Arturo Vidal and perhaps not as well rounded as Kevin Strootman, but what De Jong can promise is a combative presence which would put an end to the idea of United being bullied in the midfield when they come up against the best teams in England.
A feasible transfer?
What’s more, De Jong’s position at AC Milan, which is hardly concrete, means that there is definite scope for this potential deal to happen should Van Gaal indeed be interested by it. The Italian giants have registered their own intrigue in Nani, which could give United room for manoeuvre, and the idea of returning to the Premier League would surely appeal to De Jong himself given Milan’s recent shortcomings.
All in all at the end of the day Van Gaal must now make the best of a bad situation with regards to Carrick’s injury.
Could it be though that the resolution brings about a better outcome than would have been possible prior to it happening? If De Jong is purchased you would certainly assume so.