Considered one of the best Dutch players of his generation, Daley Blind has been a stalwart for the Netherlands national team. Since his national team debut in February 2013, Blind has become a mainstay in the playing XI and first caught international recognition with his ridiculous assist to Robin van Persie during the Netherland’s opening match against Spain at the 2014 World Cup. He also assisted Arjen Robben later in the match as the Dutch claimed a massive 5-1 win against the eventual winners. A highly versatile player, Blind is primarily a left-back, but can also function as a centre-back and a defensive midfielder, due to his immaculate vision.
The Dutchman’s massive performance at the 2014 World Cup, saw him earn a 13.8 million pounds move to Premier League giants Manchester United. With huge expectations from fans who anticipated him to be their defensive midfield answer in the post-Alex Ferguson era, Blind failed to live up to his potential, just like his other United teammates. After not quite impressing as a defensive midfielder, he began the 2016-17 Premier League season as first-choice center back, alongside Chris Smalling. But he lost his place to Phil Jones and Marcus Rojo. Blind then started in the Europa League final that season, where United defeated his former club Ajax 2-0.
After the Europa League final, Blind returned to Ajax on a four-year deal in 2018. He found his form once again and was part of their run to the 2018-19 Champions League semi-final with a team consisting of the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Dusan Tadic, Hakim Ziyech and David Neres. Fast forward to 2023, Blind is currently plying his trade in Spain with surprise package Girona, who are currently on top of the La Liga. Coming to Girona, he came with tons of experience, having also represented Bayern Munich for a few months this year.
City Football Group, who own Girona, also have a 65 percent stake in Indian Super League club Mumbai City. Other than Mumbai City and Manchester City (100 percent), they also own Girona (47 percent), New York City (80 percent), Palermo (80 percent) etc. With European clubs trying to expand more in the Indian market, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Girona decide to visit India and face Mumbai City in a friendly or during a pre-season tour. In an exclusive interaction with Hindustan Times, Blind explained that ‘if there is a connection’, there could be a possibility, which is good news for football fans in India.
“I think maybe, if there is a connection, it’s easier to arrange something. But again, I think it is not up to me,” he said.
Girona are currently in pole position in La Liga, with 31 points in 12 matches, packed with 10 wins, a draw and a defeat. They have scored the most goals this season (29), and are ahead of usual title contenders Real Madrid (2nd), Barcelona (3rd) and Atletico Madrid (3rd). Ukrainian striker Artem Dovbyk has been key the White and Reds, and is their top-scorer in La Liga this season with nine goals. The 26-year-old was in the scoresheet during their latest 4-2 victory against Osasuna. Blind pointed out Dovbyk’s importance to the team. “Dovbyk is very important to us. He is a real target man, he is very eager to score goals. He is a big talent,” he said.
Besides Dovbyk and their position in the table, Girona have also caught everyone’s attention with their playing style, which has drawn comparisons to Pep Guardiola’s Man City. They have managed to outfox teams with their possession-based strategy, and have proved to be a huge threat in transitions and counter-attacks. There have also been reports from Spain that Girona manager Michel is also considered to be Guardiola’s successor at City, by the City Football Group.
Commenting on Michel, Blind said, “If I think if Michel can be at the top, yes. I think so, he is a great manager, so yes. I think he can be a great manager in the future.”
Other than Dovbyk, even City youth product Aleix Garcia has been key for Girona. The defensive midfielder is their captain and has already registered four assists, which is third-highest in La Liga this season. Girona face Rayo Vallecano in their upcoming La Liga encounter on Friday, and a win will see them maintain their lead over Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico.