Manchester United signed Donny van de Beek from AFC Ajax last season for £35 million, but his debut season for the Red Devils has been lackluster. He struggled to live up to expectations last season as he started just four Premier League games and with each passing week was looking increasingly devoid of confidence.
Though he made 36 appearances in all competitions for Manchester United last season, most of those were 15-20 minute cameo performances.
Coming from the Eredivisie, it was understandable that it would take some time for him to settle into the Premier League just like Fred did. Fred, who joined United from Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukraine, took a whole season settling down at United but is now an integral player in Solksjaer’s team.
With a total of 36 appearances for the Red Devils last season, van de Beek scored a goal and provided just two assists. Donny van de Beek’s primary position is number 10 but is being occupied by Bruno Fernandes.
Donny will not be ousting Fernandes for the No. 10 role any time soon
Fernandes has been sensational for Manchester United since his arrival from Sporting Lisbon. He is Solksjaer’s potentially most influential and valuable player. Donny can also play the defensive role, alongside Bruno Fernandes. But last season it was Pogba who played alongside Bruno in quite a lot of matches.
For Ajax, Donny was brilliant and had a wonderful season in 2018-19 when they reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. In that season, he scored 17 goals and provided 13 assists in 57 appearances and in the next season, he scored 10 goals and provided 11 assists in 37 appearances.
With Pogba’s situation unclear, it was clear to see why the Red Devils shelled out such a huge amount to get Donny to play for Manchester United.
It is now important for Solksjaer to find a place for Donny in the team and have confidence in him. With Bruno already occupying number 10 position and Rashford, Greenwood and Sancho occupying the wings, it is evident he is not going to play wide.
Donny might succeed as a defensive midfielder at Manchester United
So it has to be in the midfield two where he has to play and trust him. With Pogba’s situation unclear and rumors regarding him leaving, it is a wonderful opportunity for van de Beek to get more game time and be a natural replacement for Pogba.
Pogba played more of a defensive, deep-lying role last season for United and van de Beek too can play in that position. He has proved himself for Ajax playing that role. After De Jong’s departure to Barcelona, it was Donny who filled the deep-lying role and was effective too.
In the 2019-20 season for Ajax, he averaged five recoveries, two tackles and one interception per game and his participation in duels and duels won were slightly up in all competitions.
Manchester United lack a proper defensive midfielder (DM) and if they do sign a DM, we could see Solksjaer play van de Beek on a regular basis this season. It will all depend on Pogba’s contract situation and Manchester United signing a DM.
If Pogba does leave and United sign a DM, we could see Solskjaer play Donny in the midfield two, where he would improve United’s overall midfield unit with his box-to-box capabilities and defensive role.
Donny missed Euro 2020 with a groin injury and with a restful summer, he should be feeling fit and ready for the upcoming season.