As Manchester United seemingly move closer to the acquisition of creative talent, Thiago Alacantra, rumours have been bubbling that Manchester United are similarly close to striking a deal for the Netherland’s Under-21 Captain, Kevin Strootman. Valued at £15 million, Strootman is a well rounded midfielder who has developed greatly over the last few years at PSV. Tough in the tackle and useful with the ball, the Dutch enforcer could well be a much needed addition to United’s midfield.
Following a solid tournament in Israel and some suitably coy interview answers, most bookies, including bet fair, seem confident that David Moyes is prepared to splash the cash this summer to ensure he hits the ground running. With the likes of City and Chelsea already strengthening in midfield, he will be well aware that new faces are needed to combat their challenge.
Having moved in from the left, Strootman has become an accustomed central midfielder. Experienced beyond his years, he is the captain of the U21s and has already made 18 appearances for the senior side. In doing so, he has developed an assured presence on the pitch, who gets forward when possible whilst always providing defensive cover in the form of a tackle, interception and clearance when needed. Despite the fact he is not the quickest, Strootman uses his reading of the game to foresee threats and opportunities, even though he picks up more than his fair share of yellow cards.
Strootman’s agent recently proclaimed that he has ‘the physique, the character and the fitness for’ the Premier League and nothing suggests that he could not make the step up. Indeed, he certainly seems to be an improvement on Tom Cleverley and Anderson, both defensively and offensively.
As shown for the Dutch senior side, Strootman is already a formidable talent. Physically imposing, tactically astute and technically sound, Strootman has all the makings of a top midfielder. He has a strong left foot, aerial ability and no previous history of injury problems. The main question over his potential therefore revolves around his mobility. He has a large 6ft 1″ frame and he will need to sharpen his senses, as Michael Carrick has done, if he is to avoid being caught out in the highest echelons of the game.
Having gravitated in from the left, Strootman has now settled into his groove as an old-fashioned centre mid. As one of a midfield two, he shows good teamwork and timing with his midfield partner and is willing to share the defensive burden. As one of a midfield three, he is more adapt further back, preferring to leave the more intricate play makers to make the magic happen.
Going forward, Strootman most recently had a great season with PSV, scoring 5 and setting up 11 goals, and is therefore seen by many nowadays as a traditional box-to-box midfielder, in an age when deep lying playmakers and the like seem to be the norm. Primarily left footed, Strootman would rival Anderson and Tom Cleverley for a starting spot next to Michael Carrick. In doing so, he would Moyes a more physical imposing combination whilst providing much needed cover if the influential Englishman was to pick up an injury.
Furthermore, if Moyes decided to adopt a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation, Strootman would prove a useful tool in either tactic. Able to sit deep alongside Carrick or move slightly to the left to link up with someone like Kagawa ahead of him, there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t get a lot of game time next season.
With his manager’s blessing, Strootman could find himself leaving the Philips-Stadion for approximately £17 million this season—a steal in the current climate. Seemingly, Strootman has his heart set on a move to Manchester United and the odds are therefore in Moyes favour.
The Glazer’s seem willing to back Moyes in his first summer in charge, wary of the problems a shaky start to the transition may cause, and may be one of two midfielders he brings in over the next few months.