Southampton defender Toby Alderweireld believes fellow Premier League newcomer Daley Blind will be a huge hit at Manchester United, having known the Dutchman since he was a teenager at Ajax.
After progressing through the club’s famed youth academy together, the pair both featured in the first-team from 2009 to 2013, before Alderweireld sealed a £6 million switch to Spanish champions Atletico Madrid.
While the Belgian international’s La Liga stint did not go as planned, leading to a season-long loan move to Southampton this week, Blind would go on to win the Dutch Football of the Year award after helping guide Ajax to their fourth-consecutive Eredivisie title.
A starring role for the Netherlands at the World Cup would then see him reunite with his ex-national team boss Louis van Gaal at United in a £13.8 million deal, and Alderweireld believes his former teammate has all the right attributes to become a standout performer for the Red Devils.
‘I of course went to the Ajax academy with him, but also to normal school in Holland, so he was a good friend of mine and I’m very happy for him,’ he said.
‘He sees football very well. He’s very smart. Technically, his first touch is his best asset I think. He can play left-back and he’s developed very well over the past few seasons.
‘If he can play left-back or in midfielder then he’ll be great, no question.’
The son of Ajax and Netherland legend Danny Blind, the 24-year-old Blind featured in the holding role for the Erevidisie champions last season, before spending most of the World Cup at left-back, but it remains to be seen where Van Gaal plans to use him in the United lineup.
Regardless, with the team desperately needing cover in a number of defensive positions, his prized versatility and familiarity with the new 3-5-2 system should see him become a hugely valuable asset at Old Trafford going forward.