Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has confirmed that he is in the market for new defenders this summer, with Daley Blind, Mats Hummels and Thomas Vermaelen said to be his preferred choices.
The Independent today carries quotes from the Dutchman which indicate that he has prioritised the finding of long-term replacements for Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, and it looks as though the trio of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans will be forced to compete for their first-team places with external targets. It’s believed Blind, Hummels and Vermaelen are the individuals Van Gaal has pinpointed as being ideal for his squad moving forward, with the futures of all three having been called into question of late.
The German international is perhaps the most experienced of United’s targets when it comes to the highest level of the game, and could be persuaded to make the move if he has ambitions of competing for other major trophies. His World Cup-winning summer has been jam-packed full of speculation that he’s off, though Jurgen Klopp has laughed off such rumours at every turn.
The Borussia Dortmund star is exactly the type of defender Van Gaal covets, and his natural leadership would likely go some way to getting the best out of an otherwise inexperienced United back-line. Whether Hummels, rated at around £20million, would look to force Klopp into cashing in on him remains to be seen, but the interest from Old Trafford is definitely there.
A player who could well be bought in to provide competition for Luke Shaw in the wake of Patrice Evra’s departure, Blind’s potential arrival takes on a new significance following Van Gaal’s comments that Shaw isn’t fit enough. Having worked together for the Netherlands the United boss is all too aware of what Blind can do, and his relationship makes the idea of a transfer acutely feasible.
There’s undoubtedly bound to be those who question whether or not he’d be able to adapt to the Premier League, but Blind, who can double up as a midfielder, is a versatile option suited to Van Gaal’s preferred style of play.
The dust has now settled on United’s interest for signing Vermaelen, and the Arsenal club captain remains a hot target. Arsene Wenger is keen on the continuation of the Per Mertesacker/ Laurent Koscielny partnership, and as such the Belgian international finds himself somewhat frozen out.
Vermaelen’s ability means that playing in a 3-4-3 formation - which Van Gaal is tipped to implement - won’t be a problem, and he has plenty of Premier League experience to allay concerns over a player coming in and not being able to adjust.