Holland’s successful World Cup campaign has propelled some of the lesser-known Dutch stars into the limelight and with a new regime about to kick-off under van Gaal, a number of the national squad could follow their manager to Manchester United.
We take a look at three young Dutch prospects who could join United in the club’s attempt to build for the future after some high profile departures.
Stefan De Vrij
De Vrij was possibly the most strongly rumoured amongst the Dutch squad to be a Manchester United target, which is understandable given the versatile, composed and mature nature of the 22-year-old defender. He played in all seven of Holland’s World Cup matches in Brazil as a central defender by Van Gaal.
The Feyenoord captain has 19 international caps and with an impressive World Cup display behind him he could be in line to replace Nemanja Vidic in the heart of United’s defence.
However comments from Lazio’s Sporting Director, Igli Tare, suggest that De Vrij could be set to snub van Gaal for a move to Italy, although there has been no confirmation either way from the man himself.
United’s midfield has long been in need of strengthening and Daley Blind could offer protection to what will be a new-look back four at Old Trafford next season.
The Dutch Footballer of the Year is comfortable and has excelled in both midfield and at left-back and played a significant part in Holland’s World Cup campaign. He provided the assist for Robin van Persie‘s spectacular equaliser against Spain in their opening group match, was called upon to fill the void left by Nigel de Jong after the tough-tackling midfielder suffered a groin injury against Mexico and scored Holland’s second in their 3-0 victory against Brazil in the third place play-off.
The 24-year-old Ajax man is highly rated by Van Gaal and his versatility is an attribute that is particularly appealing to the new Manchester United boss. With Patrice Evra’s move to Juventus now completed, Blind would offer suitable cover in the left-back position and would also bolster United’s midfield options.
Another product of the Feyenoord youth system, Jordy Clasie is a small and not particularly strong midfield talent, but his ability on and off the ball, sharp turns and tenacity have established him as a Feyenoord regular.
Clasie played 148 minutes of Holland’s World Cup, coming on as a substitute in the semi-final against Argentina and started against Brazil in the third place play-off.
His relationship with Van Persie may influence Van Gaal when considering whether to submit a bid for the young central midfielder. He provided a brilliant assist for van Persie in a World Cup warm-up game against Ecuador and has long been an admirer of his senior international team-mate.
The 22-year-old would add a different dimension to United’s midfield as a more creative option over Tom Cleverley and a passing range that has earned him comparisons to Xavi and Andrea Pirlo.