Manchester United have had a poor start to their new season. Despite being handed an easy set of fixtures early on, United find themselves languishing 10th in the table, having suffered three defeats already. Even David Moyes had a better record at this stage than new manager Louis van Gaal.
Yet, there is a strong feeling around Old Trafford that the Dutchman is the right person to turn things around. While the results have been poor, United are at least playing an attractive brand of football that leaves some space for optimism. Although, that should be the minimum requirement for a club of United’s stature, considering the amount of money they have spent on buying top players this summer.
The ongoing injuries have made life further difficult for Van Gaal. Manchester United board have made a sizeable war chest available to him, but according to reports from Guardian today, the Dutchman is not planning to strengthen his squad unless a key-target becomes available.
Manchester United have been heavily linked with Roma’s highly rated Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman for quite sometime now. Van Gaal remains his keen admirer but he said in the summer that he would monitor the Dutchman’s recovery from injury before deciding whether to make a move for him in January.
Strootman has been sidelined with injuries since March, as a result missed the World Cup in Brazil. The 24-year-old has been on the verge of recovery and could make a timely return as early in November. Mark Ogden of The Telegraph writes:
“Roma had anticipated Strootman being available again by the end of November and the player’s progress has led to the Italian outfit arranging a B team game for the 24-year-old this Sunday.
And if Strootman emerges unscathed from the run-out with Alberto De Rossi’s reserve team, Roma coach Rudi Garcia is ready to restore him to the squad for the fixture against Atalanta on November 22 or the Champions League clash with CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital three days later.”
Although his return from injury will boost the United camp, it remains unclear whether United can prise him away from Roma in mid-season. The Giallorossi are strong contenders for the scudetto (2nd in the table, 3 points behind Juventus) and are favourites to progress to the knock-out rounds of Champions League as well. So, it hardly make any sense for Roma to part ways with their talisman midfielder who himself seems unwilling to to move.
However, there are conflicting reports as well in the media. As per Goal.com’s Greg Stobart, Strootman has asked Roma to allow him to join Manchester United.
British tabloid Daily Star claim that Manchester United officials will even travel to Rome this weekend to watch Strootman in action.
Roma are aware of United’s interest, but time and again, they have made it clear that the club won’t listen to any offers for Strootman.
James Pallotta, the Roma owner, said back in October, that Kevin Strootman will not be sold to Manchester United.
“It is just not happening,” Roma’s billionaire owner told BBC Sport at the Leaders in Football Conference.
“I have told the papers that they should stop wasting paper. We don’t have any interest in selling Kevin.”
He says that if United want to discuss about his transfer, they would be courteous to listen to it, but even a €80m bid won’t be enough to price him away from Roma.
“If United wants to talk, we will sit down and listen to them. Yet even with a bid of €80 million, we will not agree,” he added.
Roma are financially in a strong position now having sold Mehdi Benatia to Bayern Munich in the summer. Although, Roma were equally unwilling to sell Benatia at any price in the beginning, similar to their stance for Strootman now, but they were forced to bow down under pressure from the European heavy weights. Roma could be tempted again to sell their star player, provided United offer a large sum of money for the Dutch midfielder.