Rumours that Holland regular Daley Blind will be joining former national team coach Louis van Gaal at Manchester United have been doing the rounds for some time, and intensified this week, but where the 24-year-old would fit in at Old Trafford is unclear.
Blind started the Oranje’s World Cup opener against Spain on the left and was many pundits’ man-of-the-match – including the BBC’s Thierry Henry – after laying on two strikes in the shock 5-1 win.
Of course, Man Utd have a new left-back after throwing the best part of £30m at Southampton for Luke Shaw at the end of June, but Van Gaal has questioned the 19-year-old’s fitness during the summer.
Shaw was ordered to complete extra training sessions, with Ashley Young repeatedly tried – with some success – at left wing-back on the Red Devils’ tour of the USA.
Van Gaal is expected to start the campaign with a 3-4-1-2 formation for Premier League matches, and there is a distinct possibility that the ‘Iron Tulip’ will choose to leave out Shaw if he feels the Londoner is unable to pace up and down the flanks for 90 minutes.
However, two marginally more likely scenarios are that Blind – should he sign – will either compete for one of the three centre-half spots alongside Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and/or Michael Keane, or be deployed as a sitting central-midfielder.
The son of former Dutch international stalwart Danny – who coached Daley and co in Brazil over the summer – has operated in deep midfield on numerous occasions for Holland and Ajax.
He isn’t particularly well-known for his centre-half prowess, but Van Gaal’s system should mean one of the back-three plays further forward than the other two, in a sweeper role not at all dissimilar to that of an anchorman.
Man Utd are 5/1 to win the Premier League for the 14th time this term and 3/10 to return to the top four – a feat Van Gaal has accomplished in his first seasons managing each of his four previous clubs.
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