Stats - Four areas Strootman would improve United's midfield

Manchester United have reportedly made an offer for Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman.

A report in Italy yesterday suggested that Manchester United had made an offer for long term midfield target Kevin Strootman.

United were strongly linked with the Dutchman last summer before he left PSV Eindhoven to sign for Serie A giants Roma, where he has continued to develop into a top class consistent player.

A bad knee injury has ruled him out of this summer’s World Cup and imminent new United boss Louis van Gaal seems to have urged executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward into making a bid for the 24-year-old.

It all makes for a very nice picture if you’re a United fan but where exactly can he help United’s midfield next season?

He added five goals and six assists for Roma in Serie A before his injury, which area areas United’s midfield struggled compared to their main rivals last season.

  Goal AssistGoalsPlayed
Manchester City 66 102 38
Liverpool 63 101 38
Arsenal 53 68 38
Everton 44 61 38
Chelsea 41 71 38
Southampton 41 54 38
Manchester United 38 64 38

United’s ability to control possession in midfield is unquestioned and they have very creative players in the form of Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj and Wayne Rooney.

What they don’t have is a midfielder in the Frank Lampard mould, someone who can burst forward and make intelligent runs across the midfield to get into good positions.

Another area he would clearly make a difference is in terms of his tackling.

  ClubPosTotal Tackle / appsAppsMins
Marouane Fellaini Man Utd MF 2.75 16 1,106
Tom Cleverley Man Utd MF 2.18 22 1,579
Michael Carrick Man Utd MF 2.10 29 2,413
Luis Antonio Valencia Man Utd MF 1.69 29 1,940
Juan Mata Man Utd MF 1.13 15 1,230

Strootman had an average of 3.3 tackles per game before his injury, which shows he gets stuck in and is aggressive under pressure in big games.

That’s a higher tackles per game rate than any United midfielder has managed this season, which suggests he’d add some real grit and fight into the middle of the team.

His long ball average per game is smaller than four of United’s current first team stars at 2.79 long balls per match.

  ClubPosTotal Long Balls / appsAppsMins
Michael Carrick Man Utd MF 7.52 29 2,413
Darren Fletcher Man Utd MF 6.50 12 779
Tom Cleverley Man Utd MF 4.86 22 1,579
Juan Mata Man Utd MF 4.47 15 1,230
Shinji Kagawa Man Utd MF 2.78 18 1,170

What that tells us is that he looks for the shorter pass to players in immediate advanced positions in the midfield.

It’s significant in terms of his defensive role and suggests he offloads the ball quickly when he wins back possession, which can utilise the pace United have in wide areas on the counter attack.

  ClubPosTotal Pass / appsAppsMins
Michael Carrick Man Utd MF 70.72 29 2,413
Juan Mata Man Utd MF 56.60 15 1,230
Darren Fletcher Man Utd MF 55.75 12 779
Tom Cleverley Man Utd MF 51.68 22 1,579
Marouane Fellaini Man Utd MF 50.50 16 1,106
Shinji Kagawa Man Utd MF 39.28 18 1,170
Luis Antonio Valencia Man Utd MF 36.34 29 1,940

In terms of the average number of passes per game he makes (58.8 per game before his injury), only Michael Carrick made more on average for United each match last season.

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