Serie A side Roma face a huge challenge to keep midfielder Kevin Strootman at the club if Louis Van Gaal and Manchester United come calling.
The Dutchman, who was absent from the Netherlands side that finished third and unbeaten at the World Cup in Brazil with injury, had been linked with a move to Old Trafford last summer before David Moyes swooped for Marouane Fellaini instead.
Now, with Van Gaal at the helm, United are set to rekindle their interest in one of Europe’s most promising midfielders which could see Roma toil in his absence.
Many saw Moyes’ decision to opt for Fellaini over Strootman last summer whilst the 24-year-old was at PSV Eindhoven as baffling.
However United’s loss was Roma’s gain as the Dutchman soon fitted in at the Stadio Olympico, and up until his injury in March was a vital cog in Rui Garcia’s machine. Garcia’s comments that the midfielder would cost upwards of £70million show his determination to keep him out of United’s clutches, but his positive relationship with Van Gaal could yet prove the decisive factor.
United’s need for a snarling, bulldozing central midfielder is obvious, although up until now their focus had been mainly on Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal.
The Chilean, who has played a major role in his club’s recent domestic domination, has long been linked with a move to Old Trafford but Juventus’ stance is reportedly complicating matters.
Van Gaal has already signed Ander Herrera, but United miss a steely character such as Yaya Toure or Nemanja Matic who have the ability to not only dictate games but win them too.
Interest in AC Milan and former Manchester City midfielder Nigel De Jong has cooled, whilst Daley Blind remains another possible deal if he can be prised away from Ajax.
Sporting Lisbon’s William Carvalho had been thought to be a done deal whilst Moyes was at the club, but the Scot’s sacking in April has signalled an end to the club’s pursuit.
If United get their man then Strootman would be yet another player to leave Serie A for pastures new.
Ciro Immobile, who finished as the division’s top scorer last year in an outstanding campaign, has departed to Borussia Dortmund to fill the boots of Robert Lewandoski whilst question marks remain over the futures of Vidal and team-mate Paul Pogba.
Van Gaal is unlikely to meet Roma’s asking price for the midfielder, but a compromise could be struck if he offers one of either Anderson, Fellaini or Javier Hernandez to sweeten the deal.
The Italian giants enjoyed a fine campaign last season, but the departure of their midfield lynchpin may end their title challenge before the new campaign has even begun.