‘He knows when it’s time to leave’ – the Dutch reaction to Donny van de Beek’s turmoil at Manchester United

Next month will bring a significant milestone for Donny van de Beek’s Manchester United career. It was last week in November last year where he started back-to-back matches for the club — something that has not happened before or since.

The 24-year-old played a full 90 minutes in the 4-1 home win over Istanbul Basaksehir and the 3-2 win over Southampton in the Premier League five days later, and it looked like his United career had begun to develop nicely.

Van de Beek had an immediate impact after his £ 35million move from Ajax, scoring on his debut against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, but it had been a bit of a slow burn after that.

But after three Champions League starts, the victory on the south coast was his first in the Premier League, and MEN’s player ratings from that game listed him as “the key to United’s early dominance”.

He came off the bench in the next match, the home defeat against Paris Saint-Germain, but started at West Ham the following weekend, and when we trace his United career back, maybe this match is something of a turning point. United were restless in the first half, with Van de Beek facing Bruno Fernandes.

This decision was reversed during the break, and Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side improved to 3-1 winners.

Since then, there have only been two more Premier League starts against Leicester City and Wolves at the end of last season, when wholesale changes were made and nothing could be read into the selection. This West Ham match on December 5 is still the last meaningful Premier League match Van de Beek started.

He has now sat on the bench without coming 25 times for United and his frustration boiled over when he was recently unused against Villarreal.

For some United fans who are desperate to see a change in midfield, he has become a cause of celebrity, but how do you look at his situation in his home country Holland? He was considered a rising star in the Dutch game two years ago and shone in Ajax’s race to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2019, but now he is not even a member of the national team.

Mike Verweij covers Ajax for De Telegraaf in the Netherlands and knows the player well. “It’s not that big [a story] as in England, I have seen all the headlines in England, but that is of course a problem on many football talk shows, they talk a lot about Donny, ”he said.

“I still believe that things can change because we know Donny as a slow starter and we have always known him as someone who never complains, in his Ajax time he had a period he did not play and he never complained so we were a bit in shock so we threw him his chewing gum, for me it shows that he is really getting frustrated. “

Ruben Jongkind is Ajax’s former head of talent development in academia and saw Van de Beek’s progress through their famous academy up close.

He expected the move to United to be a success, but remembers Van de Beek as someone who wants to play and is willing to fight for his place, so he has not given up yet.

But Jongkind believes there is no obvious role for Van de Beek in United’s 4-2-3-1 system at the moment, as his strengths do not necessarily marry the available positions in Solskjær’s system.

“[He’s played] as one of the controlling midfielders he often played No. 6, but in our academy we only had one controlling midfielder, for the most part it is 4-3-3 with the sitting midfielder, says Jongkind to Manchester Evening News.

“He played it quite a lot, but we saw his strengths higher up on the pitch. He can play it [deep midfield], he has a decent pass, but by controlling he does not really have the dueling strength and explosiveness that might be needed in the Premier League to prevent outbursts and counter-attacks, he is not really a vacuum cleaner in that regard.

“So in our system we have a six, eight or 10, he can play eight, he is a runner, he has a lot of endurance, he can cover box to box, a decent fit, a decent finisher but very good at running and get into these half-spaces.

“As a controlling midfielder in a 4-2-3-1, it’s very difficult to get into the spaces and then he’s just going to be a pass player who doesn’t really add anything special, he doesn’t want to lose a lot of balls, but he does not add anything extra to the team in this system.

“He can play six, but I think a more attacking midfield is the best position for him, at the academy in Ajax, and on the first team he scored many goals, he is a deadly finisher when he gets in those positions. “

Van de Beek celebrates scoring on his United debut

The problem for Van de Beek is that United have tended to play with two sixes under Solskjær, most regularly Fred and Scott McTominay and a No. 10 unbeaten, in Fernandes.

Solskjaer has used seven different midfield partnerships in 10 matches so far this season, with Van de Beek starting the defeat in the Champions League for Young Boys and the Carabao Cup exit for West Ham.

But shouts about giving the former Ajax prospect a run in games are growing, so what could he bring to United if that happened?

“He’s really, really good at positioning himself, he gets into the field the moment there’s something to pick up, he gets into scoring positions and gets into the halves,” Jongkind said.

“He has a very good feeling for the third man, so he is either the second or third man in possession games.

“At times, he knows how to orient himself, but the game has to be adapted to use the spaces, and if it’s more based on individual qualities, it does not really suit him. He is not a one-on-one player, who has to outplay his opponents or create something with an incredible dribble, his strength may not really be a strength for Manchester United in the Premier League. “

Although Van de Beek and United have not yet proved to fit naturally, he also moved to the club at a difficult time. It was the first time he moved abroad and he did it in the middle of a pandemic, moved to a city in lockdown and could not rely on the support of parents André and Gerdina.

“Donny comes from a really close family, his parents are really important to him and they could not support him because it was not possible to travel to England and it did not help him to adapt and settle,” Verweij said .

“His parents didn’t miss a game for years, so that made it a little harder, but that’s not why he’s not on the team, it just did not make things easier without that support.”

Cristiano Ronaldo has completed his return to Manchester United.

Manchester United enjoyed a sensational transfer window that secured the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, but Ole Gunnar Solskjær is now under pressure to deliver silverware after an uneven start to the season. United face some big matches after the international break.

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United rejected an offer from Everton to take Van de Beek on loan towards the end of the transfer window, but the perception in the Netherlands is that a temporary move could still revive his Old Trafford career.

“I heard the coach say that one of the reasons he could not go to Everton was because he trained really well and he was close to starting -11, but we can not see that now, and for to us, it’s weird because there’s a difference between starting and getting minutes, but if he does not get minutes, it’s weird, ”he said.

“If he lends to Everton with the coach and the technical director, who is Dutch, in Marcel Brands, and he knows what Donny can do, I think it can also be a good step to play a lot and so we hope and believe still that he can succeed at Manchester United. “

Jongkind also points out that time is on the side of Van de Beek, who only turned 24 in April.

“He is still relatively young, maybe in a couple of years it would have been easier for him, but I had expected him to play more and get more chances, but he will not get them. I think he knows when it’s time to leave, ”he said.

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