Why would Manchester United sign Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben?

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Manchester United are being increasingly linked with Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben, with reports suggesting a £20M move could be in the offing in the January transfer window. United manager Louis van Gaal has recently cited the need for more pace and creativity in the wider areas, but there are many reasons Robben wouldn’t be the best fit for the Red Devils, so why would Manchester United want to sign him?

It’s not the first time the Dutchman has been linked with a move to Old Trafford, and with former Netherlands manager Van Gaal currently in charge in the North-West, it’s not a surprise to see the rumour mill in full force again. Robben was meant to be one of the marquee signings made in Van Gaal first season at United, but it was former Real Madrid midfielder Angel Di Maria who was their biggest import in 2014.

Reports have suggest discontentment between Robben and teammate Robert Lewandowski, but still a move away from the Allianz-Arena seems highly unlikely for the Dutch winger. He turns 32 in January, so has little to no resale value if United were to sign him, let alone how much his wages would set the club back. Robben is a known injury risk, and would want contractual protection as a result.

Signing a player with his track record for muscle problems would be a suicidal move by the scouting team, especially considering how many other players they could sign for the same amount of money and receive many more years of uninterrupted service. Southampton’s Sadio Mane was subject of a bit from United in the summer, and a renewal of interest is expected when January comes around.

Mane has lit up the Premier League in his short time at St Mary’s, but looks a player with a bright career ahead of him, rather than being in the eve of his career like Robben. There are certainly many more like the Saints winger that Van Gaal will be considering, making it all less likely that Robben is on the shortlist.

Defensive contribution is one key attribute Van Gaal asks of his players, and one area Robben has notoriously struggled in throughout his career. Many will argue the Dutchman successfully operated as makeshift striker under Van Gaal in the 2014 World Cup, but playing him in such a position for United would not only tread on the toes of Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial, but defeats the point of signing a known winger.

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