‘When I make a mistake, it can leave me sleepless at night. Luckily, I am hardly ever wrong’. Louis van Gaal is a man who is confident of his decisions. So when he sees something in a player, he is not shy to give them a chance on a higher stage than what other people deemed would be fitting. With his regard for the Eredivisie (in February 2013, he stated that the Dutch top tier was of a similar level as the Italian Serie A) and his in-depth knowledge of the competition it would not be a surprise to see the future Manchester United manager bring in some unproven talent from the Netherlands. In Clasie, Janmaat and Depay the Eredivisie possesses a trio of players that together probably would be obtainable for a mere 30 million pounds and could well add something to a Manchester United coached by Van Gaal.
Jordy Clasie – Feyenoord
Van Gaal has little to no regard for height and power when looking for new midfield options, but is all the more focused on tactical nous, secure passing and discipline. Proof of this is the way he brought through an 18 year old Xavi at Barcelona, who wasn’t exactly a muscle machine in that position. Jordy Clasie his nickname in the Feyenoord youth academy was ‘the Dutch Xavi’. A great passer, but one whose future at the club was in doubt from time to time because of his lack of physical presence. After a loan spell at Excelsior, Ronald Koeman (a former assistant of Van Gaal) handed him the chance to become a starter at Feyenoord and the Haarlem-born didn’t disappoint. His intelligent passing, discipline in his role and a surprisingly good and fierce tackler made him a key player for the Rotterdam club. Clasie impressed so much that Van Gaal decided to hand him his debut. On September 7 2012, he earned his first cap and while he did look a bit shaky and overwhelmed at first, he gave good account of himself against Turkey (2-0). Almost two years later, he is now the crown jewel of Feyenoord and with Manchester United in desperate need of his type of player, Van Gaal might well take a punt at the 22 year old. Jordy Clasie can sit deep in a midfield role, but is also comfortable a bit higher up the field. His vision shone through in the Netherlands – Ecuador game on May 17 this year, where he picked out Robin van Persie to score the equalizer with a beautiful through pass. The only worry for the current Feyenoord captain is that at 1 metres 69 he might struggle with the physicality of the Premier League as well as the pace. At 22 year old though, there’s still enough time to improve.
Daryl Janmaat- Feyenoord
Over the last years, Feyenoord’s youth academy have seen many top talents leave due to bigger clubs offering them big contracts. With the now 24 year old Daryl Janmaat, things went slightly different. After being dropped out of the Feyenoord youth, Janmaat picked himself up and moved to ADO Den Haag, where he made his debut age 18. After impressing there in a year that was quite frankly a struggle for the resident club, he was transferred to sc Heerenveen to succeed the West Bromwich Albion bound Gianni Zuiverloon. 2008/09 wasn’t exactly his year, suffering from injuries and racking up only 10 league appearances. But just as he did after a torrid time in the Feyenoord youth, he recovered and went on to become a very important player for the team from Friesland. In 2012, he returned to Feyenoord on a free and immediately proved he was a Feyenoord calibre player and beyond. Louis van Gaal made his debut alongside the aforementioned Jordy Clasie on the 7th of September 2012 against Turkey. Louis van Gaal installed Janmaat as his first choice at rightback, above options such as Gregory van der Wiel (PSG), Paul Verhaegh (FC Augsburg) and Ricardo van Rhijn (Ajax). A tremendous sign of faith and one that Janmaat has fully repaid. Physically strong, a decent dribbler and possessing a good cross, the fearless man from Leidschendam has shown that he is tailor-made for the right back position. He has the pace to go forward and through that can make up for mistakes defensively. It left not only Van Gaal is impressed by the youngster, as his progress is being tracked by Juventus and Napoli among others. Given Van Gaal’s love for a full-back with a desire to come forward and the lack of one at Manchester United, one must not be surprised to see the new boss make his move.
Memphis Depay – PSV
The new Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s a nickname you get when you’re either Portuguese, have the looks of a male model, look physically indestructible, possess a lot of flair, like shooting from long range or have a very impressive technique and acceleration. For Memphis Depay, the first two may not apply, but the former Sparta youth academy player has plenty of the other four. Memphis Depay only turned 20 this year, but has all the attributes to become a world class player. In a tough year for PSV, he was one of the bright lights for the Eindhoven club. With twelve goals from 32 league appearances (seven of which came from outside the box), Depay showed himself a potent threat and he only finished behind Dusan Tadic in terms of creating chances, racking up nine assists in the process. To top it off, the man from Moordrecht was the only player in the Eredivisie to complete over 100 dribbles in the 2013/14 season. Apart from the obvious potential, he has shown in an incredible eagerness to improve. In an interview with Voetbal International, he admitted that learning from the likes of Van Gaal, Robben and Van Persie was very inspirational and despite his ditto season, he wasn’t half satisfied with his own performance. ‘A player like me should score 30 goals a season,’ he told the Dutch magazine. He has likened himself to Cristiano Ronaldo too, insisting that he did everything to remain in shape. ‘I used to do 200 abdominal exercises every day to keep myself fit last season, and this season I still work out almost every day before training’. With his lethal dribbles, his thunderous right foot and what looks like the right mentality, Memphis Depay is a star in the making. Back in his early teens, he wasn’t always this committed, but nowadays, he has his own diet coach (for which he pays himself) and he seems adamant to reach the top. Accidentally, he named Manchester United as one of the teams that he would consider where he to leave PSV as he sees chances to get in the team there and Depay would offer a directness, pace and power that Manchester United presently lack. Given the presence of Van Persie and Van Gaal, it might well be a match made in heaven.