Manchester United's long-rumoured pursuit of Netherlands midfielder Kevin Strootman was no doubt handed a huge boost last night, with the Giallorossi's failure to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages putting the playmaker's long-term future in fresh doubt.
Roma director Mauro Baldissoni insisted in the immediate aftermath of a crushing 2-0 defeat to Manchester City that United have made no formal contact over a January bid for Strootman at this stage, but it's fair to say that without Champions League football to focus on it may be time to cash in on their prized asset.
Strootman could well already be a United player if it weren't for the cruciate ligament injury that ended his World Cup dream, although with the 24-year-old now finally back in first-team action he still has a very good chance of linking up with mentor Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford in 2015.
Strootman forced to watch Roma's CL exit
The 24-year-old made his first start of the season in Roma's 2-2 draw with Sassuolo last weekend, but wasn't deemed ready to do the same against City last night.
In the Dutch star's absence Roma failed to get the result they needed to make the knockout stages of Europe's premier club competition, forced to accept the consolation prize of a Europa League spot thanks to goals from City duo Samir Nasri and Pablo Zabaleta.
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City's 2-0 win does United a favour?
City's success in the Eternal City may have significantly improved United's chances of signing their top transfer target earlier than expected, although the Red Devils will have to do some serious negotiating with Baldissoni to get their man.
Baldissoni was unsurprisingly asked about Strootman's future at the Stadio Olimpico by Sky Sports reporter Bryan Swanson last night, claiming that Strootman remains part of their long-term vision to become Serie A's dominant force doing little to dispel the theory that United look poised to table a formal offer to make the linchpin a Premier League player.
Giallorossi could feel it's time to cash in
The next fortnight could prove vital to United's chase for Strootman, because quite frankly the box-to-box midfielder has a job on his hands getting his place back in Roma's starting XI.
Roma have coped just fine without a player once seen as irreplaceable, thanks to the midfield trio of Daniele De Rossi, Radja Nainggolan and Miralem Pjanic. With that in mind the Giallorossi's US owners may well decide it makes sound business sense to cash in on a player quite remarkably rated at around the €100m mark, despite his poor recent injury record.
Red Devils boss Van Gaal has made no secret of his desire to sign a player he trusts implicitly, so expect movement on this front when the transfer window finally opens next month, or next summer at the very latest.
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