After two successful seasons in the Ajax first team and a starring role at the World Cup, Daley Blind is set to sign for Premier League giants Manchester United. Michael Bell tells you all there is to know about the 24-year-old.

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Son of Ajax legend Danny Blind, Daley followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the Amsterdam club’s youth system at the age of four. After starting out as a central midfielder in his early days Blind was gradually moved into the left back role, and its at full back that he made his debut for the club against Volendam in 2008.

The early days at Ajax were not promising for Blind with the club’s fans even booing the youngster after a few poor performances, and most wanted him out of the club.

Then Ajax coach Martin Jol, who had Vurnon Anita and Urby Emanuelson to play at left back deemed Blind surplus to requirements, loaning him out to Groningen for six months at the end of the 20010/11 season. At the Euroborg Blind impressed, and after 17 appearances for the club Groningen attempted to make the loan deal permanent, but the left back rejected the chance in order to fight for a place in the Ajax starting eleven.

On his return to Ajax Blind was once again overlooked by Jol, but after a poor start to the season, the coach departed, and in came Frank de Boer.

De Boer gave Blind chances in the first team, and although it began at left back, the new coach saw his potential to play in midfield, just as he saw with Vurnon Anita, who was similarly switched from full back to defensive midfield before being sold to Newcastle United.

The rest is as they say history, with Blind going on to shine in his new midfield role, whilst improving at left back when asked to fill in for the injured Nicolai Boilesen. The turnaround for Blind was quite staggering, and after an excellent campaign during the 2012/13 season, he was named Ajax player of the year, with a place in the Dutch national team following.

After helping Ajax to their fourth straight title last season, and earning the Eredivisie player of the year award, Blind earned a place in Louis van Gaal’s World Cup squad.Blind made an instant impact in the competition, setting up Robin van Persie for his now famous goal against Spain with an incredible 30 yard pass, whilst adding another assist in the 5-1 win. Blind’s versatility was key for Van Gaal’s team which made it to the semi-finals, with the 24-year-old filling in at left wing back, central defence, and midfield during the tournament.

Blind’s successful World Cup started rumours of a move away from the Amsterdam Arena, and with Louis van Gaal taking charge at Manchester United, it was almost written in the stars that the two would be reunited at Old Trafford. Manchester United will pay €18 million for the versatile midfielder.

Strengths

Blind is like a metronome or a conductor, he keeps everything ticking over. At one instant he will be using his positional awareness to break up the play, and the next minute he will be using his vision to set his side on the attack.

He is not a goalscorer, and cannot dribble past people, but what Blind does is invaluable to a team, as he keeps everything simple, and rarely loses the ball. Blind is an intelligent passer of the ball, and Manchester United fans will enjoy seeing him link up with the likes of Angel di Maria, and Robin van Persie.

He is a team player, and will not stop running until the final whistle.

Weaknesses

Blind is not as strong as someone like Nigel de Jong, and he cannot break up the play by shrugging a man off the ball, or by flying into a tackle. He relies on his awareness instead of strength in front off the back four, and this can sometimes see him caught out if he is to mark someone who is physically dominant.

He is not the quickest of players and up against speedy opponents Blind can sometimes struggle, which was one of the reasons behind his switch to midfield.

Will Blind be a Premier League success?

Going from the Eredivisie to the Premier League is a massive step up and Blind will need to quickly adapt to the increase in pace from the Dutch top flight. Blind will not be given as much time on the ball as he is used to at Ajax and his first few matches may be a struggle.

However Blind is an exceptional player, who had clearly outgrown the Eredivisie, and Manchester United fans should fall in love with the player for his work rate, tenacious play and passing abilities.

I have no doubts Blind can quickly adapt to Manchester United, and provide the link between defence, and attack that the club has been missing so far this season.

Blinds rise over the past few years has been remarkable, from an unwanted man at Ajax, to midfield maestro, Dutch footballer of the year, World Cup star, and now an €18 million player. If Blind continues this rise over the next few years, then Manchester United and the Dutch national team have a real superstar in their hands.




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