Manchester United have again been warned off making a bid for Kevin Strootman when the Roma midfielder returns to fitness. Strootman was frequently mentioned as a transfer target for United over the summer, with manager Louis van Gaal having worked with the 24-year-old during his time at the Netherlands. Van Gaal was prevented from taking him to the 2014 World Cup by a serious knee injury that is expected to keep him sidelined until December. And, while it has been speculated that United will make a firm offer when the January transfer window opens, Roma have insisted that the former PSV Eindhoven man won’t be going anywhere.
“I have found that all of the lavish things that are coming out are stories that are all from England,” sporting director Walter Sabatini said, according to Sky Sports. “There is no issue with Strootman, who is one of our important players and who we miss very much. There have been months now without him and around him we had built a style of play. He will return soon and he is not on the market -- we will give him the time needed to recover to being the same as before.”
Strootman would certainly be a logical signing for the Premier League side. Van Gaal not only made him stand-in captain for the Netherlands when Robin van Persie was unavailable but also saw Strootman as so important to his plans that he changed his tactics for the World Cup as a result of his midfielder’s unavailability. Strootman would also undoubtedly help correct a long-time area of weakness in the United team. While Daley Blind has taken up a holding midfield role after arriving from Ajax, he lacks the physicality and dynamism of his compatriot.
Despite Sabatini’s comments, there looks set to be plenty more speculation over Strootman’s future going forward. The same is surely true of talk regarding Cristiano Ronaldo’s possible return to Old Trafford. Barely a day has gone by in recent weeks without a new twist being added to the saga. It has been claimed that Manchester United have assessed how much it would cost to take him back from Real Madrid, while last weekend a group of United fans paid to have a plane fly over Madrid’s match with Villarreal trailing a banner imploring Ronaldo to “Come home.” But while the reigning world player of the year admitted he had seen the banner and that he remains close to the club with which he spent six years, he has no plans to leave Real Madrid in the near future.
"How could I not see that plane? It went past 10 times,” he said, reports Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport. "I always said that I have a family to Manchester but I'm good in Madrid. I'm glad of the affection that United fans have for me, it means that I have left good memories."
While Ronaldo has declared his intention to stay put, Barcelona right-back Dani Alves has made it known he will soon be on the move, potentially alerting Manchester United. The 31-year-old has been linked with a transfer away from the Camp Nou for the past two summers, but has now stated that this will be his final season, with the Premier League his next chosen destination.
“Next year I am moving to England,” he told Brazilian publication O Globo. “I'm going to play in the cradle of football. This will be my last season at Barca.”
Back in Britain it has been reported that United will be one of the teams interested, something that is easy to imagine. While Rafael was excellent in a win over West Ham on Saturday, he has been an inconsistent performer over his United career and it would be hard to argue that Alves would not be a short-term upgrade. Alves’s ability going forward means he would also shift seamlessly into a wing-back role should Van Gaal return to a three-center-backs system.
If Alves does join next summer, it remains to be seen whether Nani will be at Old Trafford with him. The Portuguese winger is currently on a season-long loan back at former club Sporting Lisbon as part of the deal that brought Marcos Rojo to United. And, speaking after taking on Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday, Nani explained his future remains uncertain.
“I don't know. At the moment, I just want to enjoy the football,” he told Sky Sports, per the Daily Mirror. “I want to play, I want to be at my best and then let's see what happens in the future. But at the moment, I am a Manchester United player.”