Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria was a double signing no Manchester United fan would have guessed in their wildest dreams could happen this summer.
One of the world’s most prolific centre forwards and a player who creates goals for fun will add so much potency to United’s attack but despite that, neither are United’s most important signing this summer.
If you asked United fans what the prerogatives were in this summer window, midfielders and defenders would have been the answer. In Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera, United brought in some much needed new faces in those positions but it is Daley Blind who brings something that United have tactically been missing for so long.
Louis van Gaal summarised exactly why when Blind was announced as a United player. “I am delighted Daley has signed for the club,” Van Gaal said.
“He is a very intelligent and versatile footballer that can play in many positions.
“Daley is a great reader of the game, he has played under my philosophy over a number of years and he will be a great addition to the team.”
Blind is going to be United’s pivot midfielder this season and Van Gaal pointing towards his intelligence as a player is a key reason as to why he’s going to be so important. Instead of a tough tackling midfielder, Blind is refined and will look to intercept the ball first by reading the game. He’ll protect the defence, regain possession and start United’s attacks.
Back when he was 17, Blind discussed what type of footballer he was and where his strengths lay. “Strengths? My left foot. I’m a good kicker of the ball and have vision.
“I often read the situation and I know where to move. I’m strong tactically. I know that if an opponent plays like ‘this’, we have to ‘that’. I’m good at recognising certain situations.”
Blind can do what Michael Carrick did in his pomp in terms of winning the ball back and beginning attacks but he won’t be responsible for carrying the ball forward like Carrick was. He’ll be able to focus purely on protecting the defence, safe in the knowledge that Herrera and another player will be buzzing around and squeezing the space. That’s not to say Blind will be stationary but his focus will be on reading where the pass is going rather than stopping the pass from happening.
Added to all of this is that Blind knows Van Gaal’s philosophy. He knows how to play under the Dutchman and United have lacked direction in games so far. Blind should be able to be a vocal presence in midfield and make sure Van Gaal’s philosophy translates onto the pitch.
United had a fantastic summer in terms of players that came into the club but for what he adds to United that has been so desperately lacking, Blind could turn out to be the most important arrival of them all.