Manchester United have approached AC Milan with an £8 million offer for Nigel De Jong, according to Goal.com. The news outlet, which is not the most reliable, reports that United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward discussed a move on Tuesday with De Jong’s representatives in London. Goal further reports that those discussions went smoothly and that ‘De Jong is desperate to link up with van Gaal’. Van Gaal has approved the move with De Jong being a key member of van Gaal’s Dutch squad at this year’s World Cup in Brazil. After Netherland’s 3-2 victory over Australia, van Gaal said:
“I don’t like singling out players, but Nigel De Jong was inspirational.”
In the post-match press conference after the match against Mexico, in which De Jong was injured, van Gaal said:
“Nigel De Jong was the head of incidental pressing. It’s not easy to replace him. He has characteristics others don’t have.”
Having been frustrated in pursuits for Arturo Vidal and Kevin Strootman this summer, van Gaal is clearly looking to add steel to a midfield that has been known as United’s weak point for years. And the signing of Nigel De Jong would check that box, at least temporarily. Van Gaal is a huge fan of AS Roma’s Kevin Strootman and signing De Jong on the cheap would provide a temporary solution until Strootman is healthy and fit.
If United signed De Jong, he would likely lineup alongside Ander Herrera in the centre of midfield. Like Vidal and Strootman, De Jong is a midfielder who can transition comfortably from defense to attack. Defensively, De Jong bossed the midfield last season, retrieving the ball from the opposition an average of 6 times per match and intercepting the ball an average of 2.8 times per match, which ranked him eighth among all players in Serie A. Not to mention he also managed 73 tackles with a success rate of 76%. Offensively, De Jong completed 91.5% of his attempted passes, a statistic which ranked him as fourth best amongst all Serie A players who logged at least 15 appearances. In his defensive half, he completed 95% of passes and in the opposing team’s half, he completed 88% of his attempted passes. Only three other players in Serie A managed a better completion percentage in the opposition half. On top of all this, De Jong carved out 20 goal-scoring chances from open-play.
Yet some United fans may not react so favorably to De Jong’s potential transfer because of his history as a City player. De Jong was a fundamental member of City’s team when they won the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League in 2012. But after a season of disappointment and misery, most United fans will likely care more about current results than the past. Like when former Liverpool legend Michael Owen signed for United in 2009 and scored the winning goal against Manchester City, we would happily embrace De Jong as a United player if he turned in a man of the match display in a win against City this season.
This article was written by Kush Govani, who is part of our Academy writing team. Please make your comment on this article if you agree or disagree with the comments raised in this article.