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45 mins: 2 key passes, 2 tackles: Strootman shows Manchester United what they are missing

Kevin Strootman playing for PSV, Jonathan Reis for Vitesse

Manchester United-linked Kevin Strootman gave an imperious display in Roma's weekend draw with rivals Lazio.

Despite heavy criticisms of the club's defensive problems, Manchester United's most recent performance, a 1-0 defeat to Ronald Koeman's Southampton, in which the hosts failed to record a single shot on target, created further questions regarding the club's ability further up the pitch. 

It's rather telling that the Red Devils have attempted more long balls - 1375 in total this season - than any other Premier League side. This is as good a sign as any, that Louis van Gaal's short-passing philosophy is failing to take effect.

Evidently, the club's players are facing a tremendous struggle in the transition between attack and defence; looking for a route one ball in behind the opposition back four, rather than opting for positive, assured build-up in the opposition half. 

If van Gaal has his way (as he usually does) this won't remain the case for long. It's no secret that the Dutchman admires Roma's Kevin Strootman, a player who would undoubtedly pose the solution to the club's current problem; the perfect link between attack and defence. 

Strootman has been working his way back to fitness following a knee injury from last season which saw him miss the summer World Cup, but he made his fourth league appearance of the season on Sunday afternoon, as he featured throughout his side's 2-2 draw versus capital rivals Lazio.

In a fiery contest Roma fought back admirably throughout the second period, with Francesco Totti netting a brace. At 2-0 down, Strootman's arrival proved the game-changer and, despite playing just 45 minutes, for the second time in the space of a week he gave a performance of the highest standard. 

He was imperious in defence, winning two tackles, one interception and one clearance, but it is with his attacking exploits that he most impressed. In a threatening cameo he made a joint match-highest two key passes, while managing one accurate attempt at goal.

The Netherlands international is clearly a player capable of dominating the game from the centre of the park, both with his domineering presence - shielding the back four - and his ability to contribute in the final third. His ability to distribute possession is a further string to his bow, as on Sunday he completed 85% of his 33 passes.  

Strootman would clearly suit United's playing style, but Roma have insisted he is not for sale, according to various sources such as the Mirror, and consistently state their desire to keep him in the Italian capital. There's no doubt the Dutchman would be a fantastic addition, but van Gaal may have to wait until the summer to get his man. 

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