The mystery of Donny van de Beek, Manchester United’s player non grata | Manchester United

Donny van de Beek’s membership profession statistics: Ajax (2015-20), 41 objectives, 34 assists, 175 appearances – 90 in central midfield, 68 attacking midfield, 14 defensive midfield, one vast left and two within the closing moments. Manchester United (2020-), two objectives, two assists, 50 appearances, 18 in central midfield, 14 attacking midfield, three defensive midfield, three vast left and 12 too brief to matter.

This cliff-face fall-off in numbers between Van de Beek’s first and present golf equipment level to the mysterious case of a Dutch-schooled Netherlands first-choice with Champions League quarter- and semi-final objectives on his CV who joined United and immediately turned player non grata.

It’s exhausting to grasp what occurred to go away the 24-year-old obtainable as a winter-window loanee; why, when United have failed to amass an elite-level schemer since Michael Carrick signed in July 2006, Van de Beek has not had a concerted run to find whether or not he may be ok.

A false impression has developed that Van de Beek is solely a No 10, not an 8 or 6. The logic runs that having to compete with United’s incumbent trequartista and de facto chief, Bruno Fernandes, is the rationale why his profession has been mothballed. This delusion is busted by the looks stats above (the bulk are available midfield), by how Fernandes is working as an 8 in Ralf Rangnick’s 4-3-3 (if the Portuguese can, Van de Beek can) and by Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s appraisal of the player when signing him in September 2020.


“His capability to see house, time his actions and browse the sport will actually complement the qualities that we’ve in midfield,” mentioned United’s then supervisor. High quality of the very best echelon, although, isn’t related to a division that, since Carrick’s pomp ended a couple of decade in the past, has featured the modest abilities of Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ander Herrera.

Donny Van de Beek in happier occasions with Ajax, celebrating after scoring towards Chelsea in November 2019. {Photograph}: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Photographs

When Van de Beek took the No 34 shirt for the membership his opponents have been Nemanja Matic, Fred, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay. Pogba and McTominay could have an argument for choice forward of Van de Beek however every could be erratic and so they have suffered ample accidents for the Dutchman to have loved greater than a solitary run of two consecutive appearances – in November 2020, versus Istanbul Basaksehir and Southampton.

On debut as a 67th-minute substitute two months earlier than, Van de Beek scored in a 3-1 loss at Crystal Palace however by the shut of his first season there had been solely 15 begins in 36 appearances with a complete of 1,460 minutes, and two assists. This time period the numbers are 4 begins in 14, the second of his two United objectives – within the 4-1 defeat at Watford that brought on Solskjær’s sacking – and no assists.


The downward graph is a puzzle. If up to now 12 months and a half United had been a formidable, trophy-winning drive whose aspect chosen itself this might be an evidence. United will not be. Solskjær piloted them to final season’s Premier League runners-up spot, then noticed his workforce bomb in Might’s Europa League closing towards Villarreal. A shootout defeat adopted a 1-1 draw wherein Solskjær deployed 4 substitutes however in two hours of play didn’t name on Van de Beek, who had 20 minutes’ expertise of the showpiece as a substitute when Ajax misplaced the 2017 version to United. Solskjær took off each central midfielders – Pogba and McTominay – and most well-liked Dan James (now at Leeds) and the unreliable Fred.

The present marketing campaign threatens to be far poorer. Within the autumn, United descended right into a rabble who misplaced a fourth supervisor since Might 2013 – Solskjær – and after the winter break they may stand fourth, 19 factors (with a sport in hand) behind Manchester Metropolis. Their Champions League last-16 tie with Atlético Madrid begins subsequent month however solely a fantasist would wager on a fourth competitors triumph. The FA Cup – Friday-week’s fourth-round guests are Middlesbrough – could finish the four-year trophy drought however even when so 2021-22 would be the newest muddled 12 months in United’s annals.

Donny van de Beek is fouled by Chelsea’s Jorginho in November’s Premier League gameDonny van de Beek again at Chelsea with Manchester United in November 2021, being fouled by Jorginho. {Photograph}: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Photographs

Van de Beek may assess all this and marvel what he has achieved to deserve his season and a half within the chilly. The view from the coaching floor is that in contrast to, say, James, Van de Beek is sweet sufficient, at the very least, to be allowed a good likelihood. It provides to the conundrum of his low standing.


Perhaps a clue could be present in Jadon Sancho’s related expertise. The ahead is United’s third-highest switch (£73m) and is struggling for normal sport time in his first season regardless of being pursued by Solskjær throughout two summers.

Or in Jesse Lingard, whose mortgage to West Ham final season was spectacular sufficient to get him into England’s provisional Euro 2020 squad however who has hardly been given a kick this season. Van de Beek, too, could also be affected by odd choice selections which might be a perform of the instability on the membership.

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On signing, Van de Beek mentioned: “Having spoken to the supervisor about his imaginative and prescient, I can not wait to be an element of that.” He’s nonetheless ready. A ray of hope for Van de Beek is how United won’t promote him this month in order that whoever is in cost subsequent season could make their very own judgment.

Rangnick himself is an outsider for the submit. However given he’s content material for Van de Beek to be loaned, the player could hope for a change of luck when United make the appointment. He may actually do with one.

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