Strootman & The 5 Midfielders Man United Must Target in January

Manchester United's defensive shortcomings have been well documented this season, but with Ander Herrera now ruled out for as long as a month with a fractured rib, thoughts return to Louis van Gaal's dearth of quality in the middle of his midfield.

United are adequately stacked with attack-minded players in that area, boasting the likes of Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj and perhaps even Wayne Rooney—when he drops back—but they have long lacked a central figure to both dictate play and shield a vulnerable defence.

Here are five midfielders United could go after in January—based on speculation and form, and with an estimated probability of a deal attached.


1. Kevin Strootman

Sources at Bleacher Report suggest United are working aggressively to bring Roma midfielder Strootman to Old Trafford in January. The Dutchman is obviously well known to his former national team boss Van Gaal, and would unquestionably add a layer of solidity to United's midfield.

Strootman is not a prolific goalscorer. What he brings is a physical presence to midfield and strong technique in possession. A player of Strootman's poise and power would undoubtedly make United harder to break down, while also ensuring they used the ball intelligently in transition from defence to attack. 

A recent quote from Roma president James Pallotta suggest the Italians are unwilling to part with Strootman this January, but with his club flying high without the 24-year-old—who is still recovering from the knee injury that ruled him out of the World Cup—they might yet be tempted.

Estimated chance of happening in January—7/10


2. Arturo Vidal

Vidal is a beast. You know it, I know it and everybody at United knows it. The big question is whether Juventus might countenance parting with him, or more succinctly how much money it would take for them to turn the other way while United stole one of their best players?

Juve won't want to lose the Chile international. He's a key figure in their midfield and we're talking about a team who are yet to concede a goal in five Serie A matches this season. Vidal's coverage is a big reason for that, not to mention the two goals he's scored at the attacking end. It's going to take a big pile of Glazer cash to make it even remotely feasible.

Estimated chance of happening in January—2/10


3. Nigel De Jong

Another Van Gaal favourite and thus a natural link to United, the 29-year-old De Jong was courted by the club this summer, but decided to stay at Milan instead.

The need remains, however, and with deals for many other targets complicated by Champions League football, De Jong could yet represent a plausible option. That said, based on his spoken desire to end his career in Milan it would surely take a hefty offer.

For United to make the deal happen they need to appeal to Milan as much as De Jong, distracting attention from his contract renegotiation with a sum that over-values the famously fierce midfield at this juncture of his career.

Estimated chance of happening in January—3/10


4. William Carvalho

Sporting midfielder Carvalho has a reported £37.5 million buyout clause, but when you consider he might be the next Yaya Toure that figure could eventually look like a bargain.

A player of immense power, with great passing range and an athleticism that would led itself perfectly to life in the Premier League, Carvalho might be the ideal signing for Van Gaal this January.

The bad news are reports saying he's set to sign a new deal at Sporting. And there's also the rumoured interest of Arsenal and Chelsea to compete with. 

The club's sporting director Bruno de Carvalho said it would take a "ridiculous offer" for them to part with their 22-year-old powerhouse. The question is whether United's desperation has them prepared to meet that demand.

Estimated chance of happening in January—3/10


5. Morgan Schneiderlin

Southampton midfielder Schneiderlin has enjoyed a fine start to the season in Ronald Koeman's team and is unsurprisingly a transfer gossip columns regular.

There are no reports to suggest United are interested, but Van Gaal will surely have noticed his influence in central areas for the Saints. At 24, Schneiderlin is one for the future and has many of the attributes necessary to reinforce United's midfield.

He reads the game well, makes a lot of tackles and interceptions, and can pick a pass. 

Schneiderlin has said he was "blocked" from leaving Southampton this summer, with Tottenham and Arsenal reportedly among the options, but his early form might push the offer price to a place where Southampton are content to let him leave. United could do a lot worse.

Estimated chance of happening in January—2/10

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