Manchester United have failed to impress since the start of the season, despite having a new manager in charge and spending heavily in the summer transfer window.
The Red Devils have spent over £150m in the transfer market – having signed Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo, Angel Di Maria, Daley Blind and Radamel Falcao, with the latter arriving on a season-long loan from AS Monaco.
Despite several new faces making their way to Old Trafford, United have still struggled this season. They have just 16 points from 11 matches and are yet to win away from home under Louis van Gaal’s managerial guidance.
The 20-times English champions allowed three of their key players of the last few seasons, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra leave the club earlier in the summer. Their replacements were Rojo and Shaw.
This season, United have struggled with injuries and the situation has forced the Dutch manager to start with the academy graduates. Here I take a look at three players Van Gaal and United should sign when the transfer window re-opens in January.
1. Kevin Strootman
The midfielder has long been linked with a move to United over the past few seasons and was reportedly set to join the Premier League giants last summer. However, it is believed that the former United manager, David Moyes, did not rate the Dutchman.
Strootman, who was at his former club PSV Eindhoven decided to join AS Roma. He excelled in the first half of last season in the holding midfield position, only for an injury in March ruled him out of action for several months.
He recently returned to first team action and since United appointed Van Gaal as Moyes’ successor, Strootman has been constantly linked with a move to Old Trafford. This a move that could materialise as he could provide the much needed cover for the Red Devils’ back-four and can also be useful while going to attack.
The only concern could be his fitness as he is yet to prove he can regain his old form. Meanwhile, Strootman has remained coy when asked about United rumours and had earlier refused to give more update regarding his future at Roma.
“Immediately after the knee surgery I had only one goal in mind. I want to return to the pitch as soon as possible, but only when I am 100% fit and useful to the team. I train every day to become stronger and stronger,” Strootman said.
2. Ron Vlaar
The Aston Villa defenders had an impressive 2014 FIFA World Cup with the Netherlands under Van Gaal’s guidance. He was one of the centre-backs of the Dutch national side and was very impressive in Brazil.
Vlaar has already proved his worth in the Premier League and has enough experience of playing in England’s best league. In addition to this, the 29-year-old’s contract at Villa Park will expire at the end of the season and has already rejected a chance to sign an extension.
His agent recently said, “Ron is very ambitious. The situation is ideal for Ron right now. You can imagine that we are not in a hurry. I don’t want to react to the rumour that he will go to either Arsenal or Manchester United, but Ron is very ambitious.”
United and Arsenal are linked with a January move in signing the Dutch centre-back. Villa could offload him in the mid-season and cash in from his sale, rather than letting him leave for nothing next summer.
With Arsenal also in the frame, they could provide competition to United in signing Vlaar. However, Van Gaal can be difference and the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager can lure his compatriot to make a switch to Old Trafford.
3. Mats Hummels
The 25-year-old centre-back won the World Cup with the Germany and was one of the hottest properties during the recently concluded transfer window. However, Hummels continued at Borussia Dortmund as he was keen to continue at the Westfalenstadion.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are struggling in the Bundesliga as they sit one point above the bottom place Stuttgart. United have long been interested in signing Hummels and their poor league form could help the Premier League outfit to lure him to join Van Gaal’s side.
Should the deal take place, the addition of Hummels will not only lift the fans, but also the players. He has been the leader in Dortmund’s back four, something United have missed this season in their defence since they lost Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra.