“Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Those are the exact words Louis Van Gaal will be telling his Manchester United players. As good as the club were in the past couple of decades, the simple truth is that the current squad is nowhere near as good as it should be for a club of Manchester United’s stature.
One of the reasons why Van Gaal is having such a tough time implementing a new philosophy isn’t just a lack of suitable players, but a lack of top-quality players at his disposal. While it is true that it takes time to adapt to a new style and system, it can be made easier if you have quality players who are capable of adapting to different situations. But that is a luxury that Manchester United don’t currently enjoy and that is the main reason why the club have splashed over £100 million on new players this summer.
The status of the current squad is such that even the acquisition of Angel Di Maria for a British transfer record is unlikely to end the spending spree that the club have been on. Although the arrival of the Argentine adds pace and penetration to the attack, it still doesn’t address the immediate concerns in defense. Van Gaal’s insistence on playing a three-man defense after a summer that saw the departure of the two most senior central defenders at the club means that reinforcements are still required at the back.
One player that the club have been constantly linked with throughout the summer has been Ajax’s Daley Blind . The 24-year-old versatile defender shone for the Netherlands in Brazil and is someone that Van Gaal knows really well. The fact that United have shifted to a back-three and the Dutchman excels in that system has merely added onto the speculation. After the arrival of Di Maria, it now looks as though Blind is set to become Van Gaal’s fifth signing and reports from Holland are that the club have agreed a fee with Ajax with just personal terms and a medical remaining.
Now the question most United fans would be asking themselves is this. Is Blind what United need at the moment? Will he be the answer to United’s defensive and midfield woes? Does he fit into the club’s style of play and will he have an immediate impact in the Premier League?
The simple answer to all those question is yes, yes and yes. The 24-year-old Blind is as versatile as they come and can not only play in a variety of positions, but also has the technical ability to play in various systems as well. Whether it is operating as a left-sided center back in a 5-3-2, a left wing-back in a 3-4-1-2 or a defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3, Blind is someone who can not only play those roles, but do so with great ease.
The tactical versatility that he gives Van Gaal is enormous and he allows the coach to change formations not just between games, but during them as well. The 24-year-old is comfortable on the ball and can not only break up attacks but start them as well, whether from defense or midfield. While it is true that he doesn’t necessarily have the physique to thrive in the Premier League, he has the versatility and the know-how to adapt and act according to the situation, which makes him an invaluable asset to the side.
While Angel Di Maria might be the more flashier, more glamorous marquee signing that the club and the fans have been craving for, the arrival of Daley Blind for less than one-fourth of the amount is something that might in the long run prove to be equally as important, if not more. For it will mean that the club finally have a player who is versatile enough to slot in at defense or midfield, depending on what the situation is. For just £13.8 million, Blind is a fantastic buy and not only will he be the cheapest of Van Gaal’s signings so far, but also perhaps the most perfect signing in terms of how he wants the side to play.