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Donny van de Beek brought to attack; taking number 34 was an emotional tribute

Manchester United confirmed the signing of Donny van de Beek from Ajax on Wednesday in a £35.7 million transfer. The player took the number 34 shirt at the Old Trafford club, which was previously given to Dean Henderson before his loan spells at Sheffield United. The 23-year-old can play in a variety of midfield positions but Dutch journalist Marcel van der Kraan believes that he has been brought to the club in order to attack. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feels the player has a great ability getting into the box.

All eyes will be on the new United midfielder as he plays for his country in the UEFA Nations League against Poland (Friday) and Italy (Monday), before heading to Manchester ahead of his first training session with his new teammates. The Premier League starts on the 12 September but United’s first match will be against Crystal Palace on Saturday 19 September, a 17:30 BST kick off, which could see the Dutchman make his debut. Van der Kraan, speaking on Sky Sports’ Transfer Talk show stated:

“I think Donny [van de Beek] has learnt in the Ajax academy to play everywhere on the pitch.

“Of course, he concentrates on the midfield but he is very versatile. They learn at Ajax from a very young age that they have to play left-back, right wing etc, and in that midfield he can almost play everywhere.

“His strength, though, and I think [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer has put this to him, is getting in the box. He’s got massive stamina, he’s got an eye for goal and he’s got loads of assists.

“I think in that Champions League year where Ajax got to the semi-finals he proved his point that, ‘I can play at the top level, I can do this at Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona’, and he has his chance now at Old Trafford.”

Before making the move to United, Van de Beek was linked to Real Madrid who were supposedly signing the player this summer. However, the coronavirus pandemic seems to have changed everything. The 23-year-old signed a five-year contract at United, with the option of a sixth year to be added and he seems both pleased and relieved that the transfer has been completed. The Manchester Evening News reported United’s latest Dutchman as saying:

“You do not want to know how relieved I am that I have my transfer. As you know I was around with Real Madrid and the clubs also had an agreement, but for some reason it did not go through.

“Players who were going to leave, stayed and Madrid dropped out. Of course, you are annoyed at the beginning and you wonder if such a possibility will arise again.

“Manchester United is a dream, of course a great club, in the strongest league in the world. I didn’t have to think for a second when I got this chance.”

Arsenal were also, allegedly, offered Van de Beek ahead of United but they chose not to make the deal due to the player not offering value for money, according to a report in The Sun, which seems pathetic and so Arsenal. Van de Beek will wear the number 34 shirt at United, a number that will be emotional for him. Former Ajax teammate, Abdelhak Nouri wore the number at the Dutch club at the time he suffered permanent brain damage against Werder Bremen in a pre-season friendly in 2017. The new United midfielder contacted Nouri’s father, Mohammed, told Dutch source NOS:

“Donny called me. He asked if I was okay with him playing with number 34. And I said he should. I can only be proud of that. It’s a nice gesture, very special for us.

“Abdelhak responded happily. When he hears Donny’s name or voice, his eyes widen and he immediately looks up. He hears everything. You’re on the loudspeaker. He knows exactly what you’re saying and what it’s about. We don’t have to tell him that.

“He was also emotional, you could see that immediately. You can see it in his facial expression. But so are we. We are happy and emotional at the same time. Everything comes up. Donny and Abdelhak are close friends. It is real friendship.”

Van de Beek is the latest in a long line of Ajax players to pick the number 34 shirt for the same reason. Nouri’s brother, Abderrahim stated:

“Of course a lot of players have chosen to play with number 34, but with Donny that brings an extra charge. There is more to it. They have a special bond.”

Written by John Walker

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