Manchester United have had a brilliant transfer window, bringing in the world class players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane. It’s the type of summer the Old Trafford faithful were craving for, to ensure they catch up and overtake their relentless rivals. However, the club have the reoccurring problem of not being ruthless enough when selling players, the individuals who do not contribute to the greater good of the team and or fit into the side’s style of play. And then you have Donny van de Beek.
A talented midfielder that came through the academy ranks of Ajax, who has played only 520 minutes of football in 20 league games for the club. The arrival of the Dutch international is a great example of how the board and owners are not on the same wavelength as the manager, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer showing no indications that he wanted the player as he continues to not be seen as a crucial member of his plans.
Nevertheless, the signing of 24-year-old van der Beek was more of a favour from Edwin van der Sar, who is a technical director at Ajax, as both the Glazers and Ed Woodward lack the capability of negotiating deals when badly required.
Furthermore, this is something that has been ongoing since after Sir Alex Ferguson’s time at the club came to an end, with Angel di Maria, Alexis Sanchez, Fred, Paul Pogba and Radamel Falcao all brought in without the approval of the coaches at the time. They are all big name signings but if they do not fit into the manager’s style of play and long-term ideas, then it’s a complete waste of time in making the actual effort to buy such individuals.
The issue with van de Beek is that, despite his qualities and strengths as well as his versatility in midfield, the only role suited for him in the Premier League is the number ten role, which is taken by Bruno Fernandes, who is simply irreplaceable. Although he has played as a deep midfielder/box-to-box midfielder in the Dutch league and Champions League for Ajax, he is unable to thrive in that role within English football due to his lack of physicality and how Solskjaer’s side are not setup to be a possession-based team, allowing the opposition a lot of time and space on the ball.
Not only that, but he is used to playing for an Ajax side that plays with a high tempo and are known for their quick movement and passing, which is something that he is currently not witnessing in England at Old Trafford. Also, with the manager preferring to keep central midfielder Paul Pogba and an inconsistent Jesse Lingard as the backup options for the attacking midfield position, the signs are quite clear that the Amersfoort-born midfielder will be spending most of the season on the bench.
At the start of the month, van de Beek’s agent, Guido Albers, shared his personal thoughts to the English radio station, TalkSport, in relation to his client: “Hopefully they will use him, if not we have to find other solutions. But I don’t think it’s necessary. In the next months, it will be clear that Donny can be a really good Manchester United.”
Since then, van de Beek has made a five-minute appearance from the bench on the weekend against Newcastle United, as the side had a comfortable lead at home. And he began the Champions League fixture away to Young Boys, though, he was harshly taken off at half-time due to a change of system and the side being down to ten men, which proves that he will not be utilised on a regular basis.
As the United squad is stacked with box-to-box and attacking midfielders, three options in each position, it would have made sense to sell the Dutchman and try to recover majority of the £35million they had paid for him in September 2020. The money received could have potentially been used towards West Ham’s Declan Rice, who has been a key target for Solskjaer in recent years and is the type of defensive midfielder who would help the team to become league title favourites.
Overall, the last thing the manager should be doing is keeping a player that is unhappy and not getting enough game time, at the club. Had he provided van de Beek with the option of leaving on loan or on a permanent basis, it would have resulted in the side making a final effort of signing a holding midfielder before the transfer window had come to an end, an area they are weak in.
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