It’s safe to say that the sacking of Louis van Gaal as Manchester United manager would have hurt Daley Blind more than most people. Not only did Van Gaal bring the former Ajax star to Old Trafford in 2014, but he also worked with his compatriot during the Netherlands’ successful 2014 World Cup campaign.
After some initial struggles, Blind became an absolute revelation for the Red Devils in central defence and went on to have an outstanding season. The Dutch international made more passes, blocks, tackles, and played more minutes than any other United player in a season which ended in FA Cup glory.
His strong partnership with Chris Smalling ensured United conceded less goals than any other team in the Premier League, despite finishing fifth. However, it appears as though new boss Jose Mourinho doesn’t view Blind as a key part of his plans and is even content to sell him if a suitable bid comes in.
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Why is Mourinho willing to sell Blind?
In Mourinho’s first press conference as Man United boss, he expressed his preference for “specialists” over “multi-functional players”, and it can be argued that Blind falls into the latter category. As well as centre-back, the versatile 26-year-old can also play at left-back or as a defensive midfielder.
It is believed that Blind doesn’t fit the physical profile of what Mourinho looks for in a central defender. Despite his footballing intelligence and quality on the ball, the “Special One” prefers his centre-backs to be strong and powerful, even if they are young or inexperienced.
He has showed this over his managerial career, not only at Real Madrid with Raphael Varane, but also last season at Chelsea. He started to play Kurt Zouma ahead of John Terry, and his first acquisition as United manager was the quick Ivorian international Eric Bailly.
Why should Mourinho keep Blind?
During Van Gaal’s tenure, both he and his players were heavily criticised at times for the team’s slow, unimaginative build-up play. That said, Blind always looks to pass the ball forward and he was one of the team’s most creative players last term, despite his deeper position.
He isn’t the quickest or strongest player, but he plays to his strengths, which are his intelligence, his awareness on the pitch, calmness in possession and his wonderful passing abilities.
The Dutch star made 56 appearances for United last season and proved that he is a very consistent performer. Many United fans hailed Blind for his classy performances and the fact that Spanish giants Barcelona were reportedly lining up a move for Blind last month is a measure of how technically gifted he is.
How does Blind see his future?
Blind, who captained his country at Wembley in March, ended the season with a slight injury, but as the Netherlands weren’t involved in Euro 2016, he can fully recover ahead of the new campaign.
Last month, he signalled his determination to impress Mourinho and prove himself ahead of next season. “I’ve met Jose several times but don’t know him personally,” he said. “I think he’s a coach who’s achieved a lot and I’m very excited to work with someone like him. I’m going to do my best and work very hard.”
In Tuesday’s news conference, Mourinho also suggested that it’s vital to have players who can operate in different roles – a bill which Blind fits perfectly. As a result of Bailly’s arrival at Old Trafford last month, it looks as though Blind isn’t going to be a first-choice centre-back come August.
However, his versatility, technical quality and clever footballing brain mean that Mourinho should keep hold of Blind this summer and would be foolish to offload him.
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