Under David Moyes, United struggled immensely in midfield. The £27.5m capture of Marouane Fellaini was an unmitigated disaster, whilst the usually dependable Michael Carrick had something of a down season. Out wide, Nani, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia continued to disappoint, leaving new manager van Gaal with plenty of work to do.
He's already started planning for next season with the £29m capture of Athletic Bilbao star Ander Herrera, whilst speculation this week has strongly linked the Red Devils with £30m and £32m bids for Sporting Lisbon's William Carvalho and Fiorentina's Juan Cuadrado respectively. With money to spend, United could certainly complete both deals - and signing the duo would finally give them the perfect midfield they've been craving for some time.
With van Gaal likely to go with a 4-2-3-1-like formation at Old Trafford, he certainly needed to bring in new faces in order to fit the system and improve the squad ahead of a top four challenge. That had to start with adding a creative central midfield player having witnessed Carrick, Fellaini and Tom Cleverley struggle to create anything through the middle - and they now have that with the addition of Herrera, whose skill in possession will be a welcome boost.
Alongside him, the ideal player would be someone physical, someone who can break up the play and do the dirty work in the middle, allowing Herrera to create. We've already seen how vital a player like this is for van Gaal given Nigel de Jong's key role in the Netherlands side, and whilst he's just 22, Carvalho is the perfect player to play that role. The Portuguese international plays far above his years, directing team mates and being positionally aware at all times to prevent attacks.
Then with so many underperforming players out wide, there has to be an injection of pace and direction. After starring at the World Cup, Colombian international Cuadrado appears to be the perfect addition. The 26-year-old racked up 14 goals and 12 assists for Fiorentina last season, establishing himself as one of the most sought after wingers in Europe.
With the additions of Carvalho and Cuadrado, United would have the perfect balance. Power and physicality from Carvalho alongside the skill of Herrera, as well as the combination of blistering speed from Cuadrado and the guile of Juan Mata on the left. That would then allow Wayne Rooney to play in his preferred No. 10 role behind Robin van Persie. Those six players working in van Gaal's system could finally give United what they've been looking for - the perfect, balanced midfield.