Tuesday 17 October 2017

Five players that could solve Louis van Gaal's midfield dilema

Paul Pogba
Paul Pogba

Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has revealed that his priority this summer is to buy a central midfielder. Here are five options for the Dutchman.

Kevin Strootman (Roma)

In an uncharacteristic move, Van Gaal publicly declared his interest in Strootman on the pre-season tour of the United States last summer.

Kevin Strootman is a reported target of Manchester United
Kevin Strootman is a reported target of Manchester United

Roma manager Rudi Garcia said it would take €100m to sign the 25-year-old, but after a year of injury problems, that fee is likely to have come down somewhat. Strootman was a regular in Van Gaal's Holland team during World Cup qualifying, but he tore a cruciate ligament in March and missed out on the World Cup.

He only made seven appearances for Roma this season, before another knee injury in January ended his season prematurely.

Paul Pogba (Juventus)

Alex Ferguson had some big successes in the transfer market, but letting Paul Pogba leave has to go down as one of the biggest mistakes of the Scot's reign at Old Trafford.

Ferguson failed to persuade Pogba to stay at United in 2012 and he joined Juventus on a free transfer. Three years later, Pogba is regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world. Dynamic, destructive and skilfull, he is exactly what United are lacking.

French international Paul Pogba has been linked with a summer move to Manchester City
French international Paul Pogba has been linked with a summer move to Manchester City

But whether the money men at United are willing to pay €90m for a man they let go for nothing a short time ago remains to be seen.

William Carvalho (Sporting Lisbon)

Carvalho was said to be high on David Moyes' transfer wish-list this time last year. The 22-year-old is similar to Pogba - a strong, energetic midfielder who covers a lot of ground.

His preferred role is as a defensive midfielder who protects the back four, but he can also operate further up the field or as a centre-back. Sporting signed Carvalho as a 13-year-old shortly after he moved to Portugal from his native Angola.

Four years later he made his debut and has been a regular first-team player ever since.

Sporting Lisbon's Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho has emerged as a target for Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
Sporting Lisbon's Portuguese midfielder William Carvalho has emerged as a target for Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

Arturo Vidal (Juventus)

The Red Devils were linked with Vidal at the beginning of last season, but opted against bidding for the Chilean after Van Gaal was appointed. Vidal is a key player for the Italians, playing alongside Pogba and Andrea Pirlo in a three-man midfield which is the envy of many top European sides.

The 27-year-old recently signed a new contract until the summer of 2017 and the Turin giants will demand a huge fee if they are to let one of their prized assets go this summer.

Arturo Vidal, pictured, had been linked with a move to Louis van Gaal's side
Arturo Vidal, pictured, had been linked with a move to Louis van Gaal's side

Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund)

United are aware Gundogan's contract runs out at the end of next season and the German club may cash in on him in the summer rather than risk losing him on a free transfer like they did with Robert Lewandowski.

The fact that Dortmund are 15th in the Bundesliga - some 12 points behind fourth place - means they are unlikely to be in the Champions League next year, which could work to United's advantage. Gundogan, 24, replaced Dortmund hero Nuri Sahin in their starting line-up in 2011 and has not looked back since.

Gundogan, who prefers to play as a deep-lying playmaker, did the double with Dortmund in his first year at the club and also scored a penalty in the Champions League final defeat to Bayern Munich two years ago.

Press Association

Independent.ie Comments Facility

INM has taken the decision to remove the commenting facility on its online platform Independent.ie to minimise the legal risk to our business that arises from Ireland's draconian libel awards system.

We continue to look forward to receiving comments through direct email contact or via social media, some of which may still be featured on the website Independent.ie


Editor's Choice

Also in Sport