Daley Blind - Player Profile

Blind Eyes United Top 4 Finish

Personal information 
Full name: Daley Blind
Date of birth: 9 March 1990
Age: 24
Place of birth: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Playing position: Defensive midfielder/Left-back

Club information 
Current team: Manchester United
Number: 17

Youth career 
1995–1998 Amsterdam Football Club 
1998–2008 Ajax
Senior career2008–2014: Ajax 146 Appearances, 3 goals
2010 → FC Groningen (loan) 19 Appearances, 0 goals
2014– Manchester United 16 Appearances, 2 goals

National team2004: Netherlands U15 1 Appearances, 1 goal
2006: Netherlands U16 4 Appearances, 0 goals
2006–2007 Netherlands U17 13 Appearances, 3 goals
2007–2009 Netherlands U19 16 Appearances, 0 goals
2009–2013 Netherlands U21 23 Appearances, 0 goals
2013– Netherlands 25 Appearances, 2 goals 

Daley Blind’s ascent to the top of Dutch football has been a story of patience and persistence both on and off the field. From being awarded Ajax’s prestigious Talent of the Future award in 2008 to a standout showing at last summer’s World Cup, the son of Netherlands legend Danny Blind has made a name for himself domestically and on the global stage.

Deployed at the base of a diamond, Blind is tasked with breaking up opposition attacks and starting his own. It’s a job he’s extremely comfortable performing. He’s never flustered, never fazed and he’s integral to United’s style of play. Opposing teams are starting to realise that much of United’s play goes through Blind, so it’s a compliment as much as anything that they pay close attention to him. However, if he manages to engineer his own space, he will thrive. Blind has unquestionably brought a semblance of calm to United’s midfield. There’s a leisurely style about his play that is very assuring. He's a versatile footballer. He's comfortable at left-back or at left wing-back. At a shade under 6 feet, he can fill in at centre-half, too. Not since 2008, the year of their last Champions League success, have United had a midfield to rival the best in Europe. Blind has been given the task of keeping the opposition out. It's not as glamorous, but vital nonetheless.

The 24-year-old’s footballing tutelage came from Ajax’s hugely respected youth academy, where he graduated with a reputation as one of Dutch football’s brightest talents, signing his first professional terms with his hometown club at the age of 17. A winning debut against FC Volendam soon followed in 2008 but the versatile youngster, determined to continue his development, spent a half-season loan spell at Eredivisie side Groningen to gain valuable experience outside the salubrious surroundings of Ajax. It was to be a crucial step in Blind’s upward trajectory, with the youngster returning to Amsterdam and establishing himself as an important member of the squad as left-back under manager Frank de Boer, who led the Dutch giants to four league titles in a row. It was not until the 2012/13 season, however, in which Blind became acknowledged as truly pivotal to De Boer’s side as he was voted the team's Player of the Year in a title-winning campaign. International recognition inevitably came in tandem, with Louis van Gaal rewarding the midfielder's superb showings with his debut for the Netherlands in a friendly against Italy in February 2013. Blind has not looked back since, with one more league title, a Dutch Footballer of the Year award last season and 19 international caps accrued, none more memorable than his and Netherlands’ opening game in Salvador last summer. The 5-1 hammering of reigning world champions Spain produced an unforgettable piece of play when the Ajax man set up a stunning diving header from Robin van Persie. It was fitting that Blind became, in many ways, a poster boy for Van Gaal’s Oranje side in Brazil. A young, versatile talent totally committed to the cause, he was the archetype total footballer for a team who surpassed expectations and then some. Now Blind seemingly at the top of his game, continuing to make an impact at Old Trafford.

The responsibility has almost solely been on Blind to shield a back four that also contained somebody who is still considered an orthodox winger: Antonio Valencia. Not all players can have the mandate to make things happen, take people on and look good on the ball. There has to be a balance, as the manager keeps reiterating, and his summer recruit provides this beautifully with a touch of class too. At a time when United were being criticised for lacking sparkle and a cutting edge, it was wrong to pick on Blind for any of these faults. He is mature beyond his years and has important versatility, switching to a three-man defence and left wing-back with minimum fuss and maximum efficiency so far in his burgeoning Reds career. It is easy to see why he is so relied upon by his manager and long may it continue. It is safe to say, the Dutchman could be a vital cog in van Gaal's Red machine for years to come.