Manchester United 'could sign Kevin Strootman from Roma in January'

Manchester United could now have a strong chance of signing Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman in January due to the Serie A club's early elimination from the Champions League, Old Trafford sources have told ESPN FC.

Strootman's season only began last month following his return from a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained in March, and the Giallorossi's failure to progress from their group in Europe has led United to believe they have significant leverage to do an earlier deal for the 24-year-old.

The Red Devils' interest in the Netherlands international is long-standing and has only increased following the arrival of his former Oranje coach, Louis van Gaal, at the Premier League club in the summer.

The knee injury Strootman picked up not only ruled him out of the World Cup but also precluded any immediate possibility of a transfer following Van Gaal's appointment, although it had been anticipated at Old Trafford that a deal would eventually take place at the end of the 2014-15 campaign.

There had been extensive preliminary discussions between all parties, but Roma's initial positive results in the Champions League had meant they were totally unwilling to do business in January.

Manchester City may have done rivals United a favour by eliminating the Serie A club in last week's group decider at the Stadio Olimpico, which the Premier League champions won 2-0.

Now, United sources have told ESPN FC that they may be able to push the deal through in January, and Roma will be more ready to negotiate despite their public statements to the contrary. Strootman could cost upwards of 30 million pounds

The defensive midfield position is seen as key by Van Gaal, having failed to strengthen there in the summer, while United continue to offer opponents plenty of chances in games despite their recent significant upturn in form.

It is anticipated that the Red Devils boss will bring in at least two players in January, with an addition at centre-back also on the agenda.

Ron Vlaar -- another player to appear under Van Gaal for Netherlands -- remains an option. His contract runs out at the end of the season, but Aston Villa have been demanding up to 12 million pounds for any move next month.