Imagine a world where Manchester United aren’t a super-power in world football. That is exactly what would happened and would have continued to happen had David Moyes been allowed to continue his ill-fated tenure as Manchester United manager.
Enter Louis Van Gaal, the saviour. The tactical genius. The man who masterminded the destruction of reigning World and double European Champions, Spain, at this summer’s World Cup. We’re told he is also the man to mastermind the return to dominance of Manchester United. And I believe it.
However, having made two early strides in the transfer market by way of signing both Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, he still needs a combative, ball winning, box to box midfielder. He seemingly has three options (if we discount Paul Pogba on the basis that he doesn’t seem to want to come back), all of which will cost somewhere North of £30 million.
Strootman is undoubtedly an excellent player; he can tackle, pass and up until he got injured had already begun to gain the love of the fans at Roma for his dominant displays in a midfield that helped Roma to make a Serie A record of ten straight wins from the opening game of the season. On the down-side, he is still recovering from a serious injury and providing there are no set-backs, won’t be fully fit until November. If United’s paucity of options in midfield from last season are anything to go by, United and Van Gaal can’t wait that long to put some steel alongside Herrera in midfield.
An undoubtedly talented player with youth on his side, his performances for Sporting Lisbon, who United have a well-documented excellent relationship with, this season forced him into the Portuguese World Cup squad.
Paulo Bento seems to have faith in him, giving him his World Cup debut against the USA, during the match he completed 97% of his passes, misplacing only one. These passes weren’t just 5 yard balls along the floor either, only centre-backs, Pepe and Bruno Alves had a higher average pass distance than him in the game, showing that as well as a ball winner, his distribution is pretty impeccable too. He also has a tremendous physique and impeccable ball control, despite his relative youth and comparative lack of football at the highest level, he would be just what United need.
Vidal is imposing. Imperious. His ball winning skills are second to none. Antonio Conte sees him as his embodiment on the pitch for Juventus. He is a midfield general of the much clichéd ‘mould of Roy Keane’.
He may also be the hardest of the three midfield targets to acquire. But, United and Van Gaal undoubtedly should. Van Gaal himself is a keen admirer and has tried to sign Vidal before. Conte not only sees something of himself in Vidal, but also considers him more integral to the Old Lady’s midfield than even Paul Pogba. Vidal is a box-to-box midfielder of the highest order.
Coming in at around £40 million depending which media outlet you believe, he is well worth the money. He tackles, and if he doesn’t manage it on the first attempt, has the determination and athleticism to follow a player like a malevolent shadow until he does. He scores; 18 last season, from a defensive midfield position. He can pass. And most of all, he has, alongside another reported target of Van Gaal’s, Alexis Sanchez, shone throughout Chile’s involvement on the grandest stage of all. He is the man Van Gaal should buy, not only for the undoubted instant bite and goals he would add to United’s previously lacklustre midfield, but also, because his acquisition would send a message … Manchester United are back.