Louis Van Gaal Drops Big Hint Robin Van Persie Will Be Manchester United Captain

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 06:  Robin van Persie of Manchester United celebrates scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Hull City at Old Trafford on May 6, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Louis van Gaal had admitted Robin van Persie is "a good captain" for the Netherlands' national side, suggesting he may install the Dutch skipper as Manchester United's armband wearer if he takes over at Old Trafford.

Van Gaal is widely expected to be unveiled as the new United boss this week, per Martha Kelner of the Daily Mail. The departure of Nemanja Vidic means he will have to select a new captain upon arrival, and right now, his comments surrounding Van Persie's leadership hint the 30-year-old is among the forerunners.

Van Persie netted during the Netherlands' recent draw with Ecuador, a timely goal considering the expected announcement surrounding his international manager. Van Gaal's quotes, which outlined RvP's suitability for the United captaincy, were reported by Ben Burrows of the Mirror:

He plays very well. Now he is coming from a bad injury and he scores a fantastic goal—unbelievable—and he was pressing, so I was happy with him, but he is also a good captain.

Always, you make a player captain when you have more or less the same philosophy, not only about football tactics but also about life. So I think that's very important. I believe that Van Persie and Van Gaal [have] the same philosophy.

United's lack of candidates for the captaincy say an awful lot about a squad that is lacking leaders. Van Persie's experience within the game marks him as a strong choice, with Wayne Rooney the only other realistic option.

Players such as Phil Jones and David de Gea represent the next most likely after the two forwards, but neither of these youngsters possesses the leadership skills to command a team of this size just yet.

Rooney previously suggested he'd grab the opportunity "with both hands," per Inside United and via ESPN.co.uk. He is perhaps a more natural captain than Van Persie—his aggression, work-rate and willingness to battle pushing his suitability beyond most—but the Englishman may be considered too temperamental to hand the armband.

Although this was often seen as a plus when Roy Keane patrolled the midfield, Rooney's occasional ability to overstep the line may count against him. Rooney has captained England when Steven Gerrard isn't on the pitch, but Van Persie's experience as full-time leader of the Dutch side will likely count in his favour.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Manchester United at Boleyn Ground on March 22, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Rooney took the armband for United's recent Premier League match with West Ham, a win that saw the Englishman score a memorable 45-yard thwack against Adrian. He performed admirably that day, with previous manager David Moyes saying the forward "took a wee bit of pride" in his added responsibility, reported by Chris Wheeler of the Daily Mail.

Both Rooney and Van Persie have major roles to fulfill across the coming year, no matter who receives the captaincy. United's squad remains limited and undeveloped, but as the club prepares for a major spending spree, the aforementioned duo's influence will endure. Injuries limited their output across the season, but both will be called upon to drag United out of their recent slump.

Perhaps Van Gaal's toughest management job, should he take over, is getting the best out of both players when they start together.