Ander Herrera is the pass master, Di Maria the attacking flair. Luke Shaw is Evra’s replacement, and Marcos Rojo is trying to help fill the boots of Vidic and Ferdinand. But Daley Blind, who’s transfer to United was perhaps understated as everyone was so worked up over the Falcao move, could end up being the best signing by Van Gaal this summer.
It’s no secret that United have been crying out for a holding midfield player since the days of Roy Keane, and though many have tried to replace him, none have really come close to plugging the gaping hole in United’s midfield. Players like Tom Cleverley and Darron Gibson have come through the academy but failed to prove their worth as first team players, injuries hampered players like Owen Hargreaves and Darren Fletcher, and lack of talent has hampered others like Anderson and Marouane Fellaini, The only player to come close to Keane is our latest number 16, Michael Carrick, who has been quietly consistent since signing, but underperformed last year and was ruled out by injury at the beginning of this season.
Everyone is handing plaudits out to major signings Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera, who have given United 2 goals each and three assists between them, providing key attacking play from a midfield that lacked that it last season. However in his two games in the Premier League for United, Blind has completed over 150 passes, and more importantly for a player in his defensive midfield role, has made 10 key interceptions, won more headers than any other midfielder, also making his fair share of tackles and clearances.
The holding midfield role is the favoured role of Blind, and is the position he played for a majority of last season for Ajax, when he won the Dutch footballer of the year. However Blind can play in a number of positions, as shown in the World Cup when under Van Gaal he played as left wing back, centre back and in midfield. Blind is Van Gaal’s dream player, as he is as versatile and pragmatic as the manager, and playing for him at the World Cup Blind already has a good relationship with the boss, and should be aware of his famous philosophy.
At around £14 million, a minuscule fee compared to the cost of Di Maria, Herrera and Shaw, Blind could prove to be an absolute steal by Van Gaal. He not only provides help to the defence and midfield by sitting in between and helping to nullify danger, but also provides cover for injuries through his incredible versatility. By the end of the season I believe Blind will be one of the first names on the United team-sheet, and at only 24, he already looks a seasoned pro, but also has plenty time to grow and develop. Blind could be what many of us United fans have been craving for years- a strong midfield commander, and I believe he could go on to become a great player for United.