Opinion: Manchester United’s Midfield Dilemma

The 2021/22 Premier League season has started and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a big decision to make with regards to who he picks as his first-choice midfield. Since his arrival at the club, Solskjaer has tried to stick to partnerships remaining loyal to his primary midfielders. Due to Bruno Fernandes’ remarkable impact, his spot in the team has always been guaranteed thus leaving Solskjaer only two spots to figure out. In Solskjaer’s preferred 4-2-3-1, he’s often used Scott McTominay and Fred as his midfield pivot to ensure stability at the back.

This can be viewed as quite defensive, but it does provide that cover for the back four especially when he sees the partnership of Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire as unreliable. With the addition of Raphael Varane, this may change the dynamic at United as Solskjaer will feel that his new centre half partnership is assured and thus he can adapt to a more offensive approach rather than two more defensive minded players. Therefore, Solskjaer has a big decision to make on whether to play more freely but leaving the defence more vulnerable or sticking to a more stable but offensively hindered duo. The four midfield partnerships he could choose are:

Scott McTominay and Fred

Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba

Donny van de Beek and Nemanja Matic

Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay/Fred

Firstly, McTominay and Fred. This is the pivot we’ve seen the most of as a pairing and thus know what to expect. They bring high work rate always willing to run for the badge and won’t give in when it gets tough. Defensively, they are solid and can cover the back four well seen especially in games against Manchester City where United had to defend for much of the game due to City’s expert ball retention ability but held them out before swiftly hitting them on the counter-attack. McTominay’s height and aggression brings a real ariel presence and can help to win the midfield battle due to his tough tackling and determination to win the ball.

Fred carries a phenomenal engine throughout and never stops pressing and hassling the opposition. However, what this duo lack is technical ability, especially offensively. As a duo they are two separate players doing one mans job; neither player is a specialist defensive midfielder, but Solskjaer has often felt to get the job done you need both. Furthermore, a major weakness of their game is ball progression. A key role in the defensive midfield position is the transition of the ball; they must be able to pick the ball up off the centre half’s and then move it forward with speed.

McTominay and Fred struggle to do this due to their weak first touch, passing and progressive dribbling. Thus, when paired together, the ball is often held around the midfield for far too long taking multiple touches to find a simple pass. This completely slows United’s attacking flow as by the time the ball reaches the final third the opposition’s defence is well organised. Furthermore, because of their weak passing, it can limit how well the ball is progressed often resulting in the forwards dropping deeper and deeper to receive the ball which destroys all attacking shape and make it easier for the oppositions defence.

Therefore, as a duo they bring stability, but due to their weakness on the ball can give possession away which makes it easier for the opposition to dictate the games.

The next partnership is Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba. This partnership was most used post lockdown last year and was highly effective at the time. Its biggest strength is balance, Unlike McTominay and Fred there is balance between a natural defensive midfielder in Matic and then a more creative player in Pogba. This means despite not having two players to cover, the defence is stable as due to Matic’s elite positioning, awareness and ability to intercept he can shield the back four on his own. This then leaves Pogba more license to get forward and with his passing range and strong ball progression abilities, transitioning the ball becomes far easier and more effective.

Matic picks the ball up off the defenders, quickly passing it to Pogba who in turn, can find a 40-yard pass if necessary or make a defence splitting pass through the midfield into the final third for the attackers. This creates a smooth flow and speed to United’s game which is much harder for the opposition to defend. However, one major weakness is energy. Unlike McTominay and Fred in which you’re guaranteed tenacity and energy, with Pogba and Matic this isn’t the case. With Matic’s lack of speed he makes up for it with defensive positioning, but if the opposition team attempt to swamp the midfield it can leave Matic slightly vulnerable.

In addition, Pogba isn’t renowned for his defensive abilities and can be susceptible to not tracking back which would expose Matic even more. Furthermore, as a player Pogba can be clumsy when defending, and has a knack for giving penalties away. This as a trait for a player who is expected to track back and provide cover in the box is a weakness. Therefore, in high energy games this duo can be slightly vulnerable and become a liability but their high quality on the ball means often even against imposing midfields they can retain the ball well keeping a real control on the game and thus not being put into these issues.

Thirdly, there’s the partnership of Matic and Donny van de Beek. This is a relatively untested duo which has emerged in pre-season due to the lack of internationals fit after the Euros. This duo is highly intelligent and would always be one step ahead of the oppositional team. With Van de Beek’s awareness he can play himself out of trouble and prevent United from losing the ball. He like Matic has a good passing range on him, with a real ability to play cute one-twos with teammates making space for others. This will help United’s transition of the ball because both midfielders can pass well and are very comfortable with the ball at feet and can transition it smoothly.

Defensively, although not particularly tall, Van de Beek has good tenacity and can put a tackle in to turnover possession for his side. Furthermore, with Matic next to him it provides the necessary freedom to let him roam forward. Also, Van de Beek is a more energetic player than Pogba and so won’t let himself get ran out of the game. However, he’s not got such a brilliant passing range so can’t create a chance out of nothing like Pogba. Finally, the midfield with Pogba and Fred or McTominay. On paper if you mix Pogba’s attacking output and combine it with Fred’s or McTominay’s defensive work it would create a strong midfield but in reality, it’s the opposite.

Individually, Fred and Mctominay don’t have a strong enough footballing brain especially defensively to properly shield the back four. They can’t read the game like Matic and so United would miss that player who can put in a crucial interception to save a goal scoring opportunity. Furthermore, as Pogba isn’t the strongest defensively, a natural defensive midfielder is necessary and neither Fred nor McTominay provide this. However, as a midfield, due to Mctominay or Fred’s athleticism and stamina, the midfield wouldn’t get outworked and there would be enough speed in there which can be lacking with Matic.

Overall, I feel that despite issues with each pivot, he should use them all. Although previously he’s liked to have one partnership he sticks to, I feel different players will be more effective against different opponents. Against Leeds United due to the impeccable fitness standards Marcelo Bielsa inflicts on his men, Solskjaer used a more energetic duo like McTominay and Fred. But, in the future, against more defensive teams, Solskjaer should look to utilise players like Donny van de Beek and his intricate and clever play style to break down deep blocks.

However, if Solskjaer is to stick to one midfield I think he should, when possible, pick Matic and then either Pogba or Van de Beek as his partner. Last season Pogba played multiple games off the left due to Solskjaer insistence on using Mctominay and Fred and so with Rashford’s injury he may look to move Pogba back to the left and use Van de Beek and Matic as the midfield pivot to maximise creativity.

In Conclusion, I hope that although McTominay and Fred have their qualities, they are used more sparingly, and he goes with a more offensive approach this season as United with the signings of Varane and Jadon Sancho have the quality to dictate games, dominating oppositions and ultimately bring trophies back to Old Trafford.

Written by Ethan Bents

The future of Donny van de Beek at Manchester United

One of the most prevalently discussed issues at Manchester United this season has been the lack of playing time new signing Donny van de Beek has received thus far. Donny van de Beek was signed in the summer 2020 transfer window from Ajax for a fee of £35 million, and it would be unfair on him to say that he has been underwhelming when he has not been given enough minutes to showcase his undisputed talent. As of April 2nd, van de Beek has been given a total of 961 minutes across all competitions, which some might say is too low for a player of his calibre.

To sum up his profile, he is an intelligent advanced midfielder, possessing a unique set of skills around the balls, such as flair touches and dummies in order to deceive opponents and take them out of the game. Currently, United do not have a place in their system that suits how van de Beek plays, as prolific attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes occupies the position van de Beek is most suited to playing. It would be hard to dislodge a player in a continuous stretch of brilliant form such as Fernandes, and also would be difficult to be fully integrated into a starting 11 without a clearly defined place.

Furthermore, the step up from the Eredivisie to the Premier League is one that is difficult for various players to fully grasp. To illustrate, former Ajax teammate Hakim Ziyech has also struggled for Chelsea in certain parts of the season, however, his form is improving under new manager Thomas Tuchel as he has received more frequent game time. Donny van de Beek needs a sufficient amount of time to adapt to a new country and a new league, which is why patience is required as it is a normal practice. During the 2020 summer transfer window, it was no secret that United wanted to sign Aston Villa attacking midfielder Jack Grealish.

United essentially were looking for a player that could fill in when Bruno Fernandes needed a rest, and also to play alongside him when needed. Jack Grealish was the ideal player for that role, who registered 90 key passes in the 2019/20 Premier League season. However, Aston Villa’s survival in the league meant that United would be priced out of a move for Grealish, thus meaning that they had to look for alternatives, namely Donny van de Beek. Due to the demand for van de Beek, United had to act quickly in order to sign him, as there was interest mainly from Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

From the outside looking in, it seems as though United did not do enough research on van de Beek, as he may not be the type of player Solskjaer was hoping to get. It is thought with the rumours of French superstar Paul Pogba leaving United in 2021, that Donny van de Beek would receive more playing time. Based on the evidence, this theory should be debunked as Paul Pogba has been injured for spells during this campaign yet van de Beek has not been given a chance to replace him. Surprisingly, Pogba has played on the left and right wings this season, which are unconventional positions for him in order to accommodate duo Scott McTominay and Fred.

When Pogba has been injured, if van de Beek was to fill in, he would play either on the wings or at the base of midfield, which is another position Pogba has played this season. However, this has not been the case as van de Beek has played six games at the attacking midfield position, five games at the central midfield position, and once at defensive midfield, which was a substitution during United’s disappointing 2-1 home defeat against Sheffield United. The evidence does not suggest that van de Beek will be a replacement if Pogba was to depart Old Trafford.

Though only time can tell what will happen with the talented Dutchman at the end of this season, and during the next season.

Written by Ashkan Shomeil

Donny van de Beek has impressed Luke Shaw already, despite friendly defeat to Aston Villa

Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw has talked about new summer signing, Donny van de Beek’s impressive impact on the squad this summer after signing for the club two weeks ago and not linking up with his new teammates until last week, after the first international break of the season. The Dutchman became Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first signing of the summer in a £40 million deal from Ajax with United paying around £35 million up front, the rest in add-ons.

The 23-year-old made his unofficial debut for the club in a friendly match against Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday, a match in which the home side won 1-0. There were positives from the match and one of those was Van de Beek’s ability on and off the ball and his determination to get involved in the game and create something for his teammates. There were a few first team players missing from the match too, so the result should not really be frowned upon. Speaking to MUTV, Shaw said:

“Really good. It’s all about minutes and he got that. He hasn’t been with us long, obviously he was another who was on international [duty], so he’s done really well considering he’s only trained with us for two days.

“The most important thing is him getting to know the players, knowing how each other play. We’ve got a whole week now to slot him in, but so far so good, he’s a really nice guy and I’m sure he’ll fit in great.”

Van de Beek played the whole 90 minutes in the 1-0 defeat which was the last chance for United’s squad to be ready for the new season which starts on Saturday against Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was impressed with his new midfielder’s performance against Villa, in a team that was without the likes of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, who were the clubs best performers since the Premier League restart after the coronavirus pandemic last season. Solskjaer said:

“Donny was maybe the biggest plus outfield. He’s such a finder of space and creates time for himself with his timing and movement. I was very happy with his performance.”

Former United defender Rio Ferdinand had nothing but praise for the 23-year-old following his arrival from Ajax this summer, in a move that Edwin van der Sar will have played a big role in, being the CEO of the Dutch club. Ferdinand, who won six Premier League titles, two League Cups, four FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup with United during his glittering career at the club previously stated:

“He brings goals, assists, he runs into the box, a good work ethic and an unbelievable brain. An Ajax guy, he knows how to play good football.”

This will be a big season for United. At this moment in time, the summer transfer window is not the best for United with fewer than three weeks before the window closes and United still in the need for a right-winger, a left-back, a central defender and a striker, although the latter could wait until January considering Odion Ighalo will remain at the club until the end January 2021. Van de Beek looks like a quality addition to the team and we will all look forward to seeing what he can do at United this season.

Written by John Walker

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

Manchester United confirm first summer signing; Donny van de Beek

Manchester United have confirmed the signing of former Ajax midfielder and Netherlands international Donny van de Beek on a five-year contract with the option of a sixth year to be added. The 23-year-old was a player with a lot of interest applied to him with Tottenham Hotspur making a move for him in the eleventh hour of his deal to move to United being completed. The midfielder came through the ranks of the Ajax academy, making his senior debut five years ago and rising in stature.

Over the course of five seasons playing for Ajax (2015/16 to 2019/20), the midfielder made a total of 175 appearances for his club, scoring 41 goals and 34 assists. At youth level, Van de Beek made 77 appearances, scoring 25 goals and 21 assists. During the 2018/19 season, the midfielder played a key role in Ajax’s UEFA Champions League pursuit which saw them reach the semi-final of the competition. He has also played against United in the UEFA Europa League final in 2017 in which United lifted the trophy for the first time, winning 2-0. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, United new signing stated:

“I cannot begin to explain how incredible an opportunity it is to join a club with such an amazing history.

“I would like to thank everyone at Ajax. I grew up there and I will always have a special bond with the club.

“I am now ready to take the next step in my career and perform at the highest level and there is no higher standard than Manchester United.

“Everyone has told me how amazing the Old Trafford atmosphere is and I am looking forward to experiencing that, once it is safe for the fans to return.

“This team has some of the best midfielders in the world and I know that I can learn from them and also bring my own strengths to the group.

“Having spoken to the manager about his vision for this team, the direction that the club is going in is hugely exciting and I cannot wait to be a part of that.”

The Dutch midfielder, 23, is a full international for the Netherlands and is currently training for his country ahead of their UEFA Nations League matches against Poland (Friday 4 September) and Italy (Monday 7 September). Van de Beek had bee capped 10 times for his country. During his time at Ajax, he won one Eredivisie title (2018/19), one KNVB Cup (2018/19) and one Johan Cruyff Shield (2019). He was also named Ajax Talent of the Future during the 2014/15 season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be pleased with his first signing of the summer, with lots of work to do before the new season starts for the club in a few weeks with a home match in the Premier League against Crystal Palace on Saturday 19 September 2020, kicking off at 17:30 BST. Hopefully, Van de Beek will be the first of a few decent signings for United this summer with a central defender, a right-winger and a striker wanted by the manager. Solskjaer spoke to the official Manchester United website about Van de Beek’s signing, saying:

“Donny has all of the technical attributes needed to perform in this team and has the personality required to succeed at Manchester United.

“His ability to see space, time his movements and read the game will really complement the qualities that we have in midfield and his arrival really strengthens the depth of talent we have in that position.

“Donny’s performances in the Eredivisie and in Europe have been excellent over the last few years and we are all looking forward to working with him.”

Written by John Walker

Donny van de Beek completes medical; father hails dream transfer

Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek has reportedly completed his medical ahead of his £37.5 million transfer from the Dutch club this summer. The medical was completed in the Netherlands with Sky Sports reporting that the 23-year-old could avoid quarantine in the United Kingdom if the move is completed by Friday. The player passed his medical, according to The Sun, with no outstanding issues, which is a good sign. The player will have to choose another number at the Old Trafford club though.

Van de Beek wore the number six shirt at Ajax, a number which is worn by Paul Pogba at the Old Trafford club. It is not likely to be something that will cause any problems with the transfer but seems to be something that the media have put out to mean something, which is pointless. The father of the midfielder, Andre van de Beek spoke to Dutch news source regarding his son’s transfer to United, talking about it being a dream come true, saying:

“This is a dream come true. It’s the perfect moment for him to make this step to such a beautiful club.

“Many clubs were interested, but Donny decides himself.”

Tottenham Hotspur were said to have made a move on the eleventh hour to sign the Dutchman but it was too late for them to get something done with a move to United all but completed at the time. Real Madrid and Barcelona were also interested in the player but the financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic might be the major reason in the two Spanish clubs not getting involved in the transfer of the 23-year-old this summer, which will no doubt be a blow for them.

Van de Beek was called up for the Netherlands squad for their upcoming internationals against Poland (Friday 4 September) and Italy (Monday 7 September) which will be matches that United supporters will be able to see the clubs new signing playing for the first time, ahead of the 2020/21 Premier League started, which will be a week later for United who will start at Old Trafford against Crystal Palace on Saturday 19 September all because United participated in the latter stages of the UEFA Europa League this summer.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believed that the 23-year-old is the right kind of singing for the club and fits the profile and cost in what will be a difficult transfer window for the Old Trafford club. The player had reportedly told his friends that he would be signing for United this summer with them being the only club offering the €40 million that Ajax wanted for the player to be able to leave the club. The player made 37 appearances for Ajax last season, scoring 10 goals and 11 assists, which would be an improvement to United’s midfield if he can achieve similar at United.

Written by John Walker

Donny van de Beek’s Manchester United move closer as £35.7 million fee agreed

Manchester United are close to completing the signing of Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek after a bid of £35.7 million (€40 million) plus add-ons has been agreed, according to reports by Ed Aarons and Fabrizio Romano in the Guardian. The player will conclude his transfer in the coming week and ben announced as a United player. Real Madrid and Barcelona were said to be interested in the Netherlands international this summer. Earlier on Sunday, it was reported that the player had told his friends about the transfer.

United seem to have done a lot of the legwork in this deal earlier this year, despite it not looking like that at the moment in time with the transfer window having been open for a month and nothing of note happening. United have been known to be slow in signing players and will need to ensure they quicken the pace in the future. Van de Beek has been linked to the club for a while now which seems to be coming to a close with a successful signing seemingly taking place.

The Mirror have reported that Tottenham Hotspur attempted to make an eleventh hour deal to sign the Dutch international this summer but United pushed through with their chief negotiator Matt Judge sealing the agreement and Spurs missing out on another target to United – the last being Bruno Fernandes, who Spurs were heavily linked with last summer, as well as United and earlier this year before the Portuguese midfielder eventually signed for United.

During the 2019/20 season, Van de Beek made a total of 37 appearances for Ajax, playing in the Eredivisie, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, the TOTO KNVB Beker, and the Johan Cruijff Schaal. He scored 10 goals and 11 assists during the course of the season, playing in his last game of the season, a 3-1 victory over Heerenveen before the coronavirus pandemic suspended world football with the Eredivisie being cancelled with no team winning the league for the season.

Van de Beek can play as an attacking midfielder and in the central midfield position, which will give Ole Gunnar Solskjaer some options ahead of the 2020/21 season, which could well be a good one for United, especially if they manager to sign a winger and a central defender, as a minimum. United will always be linked to different players, which is great for the club but the majority will either be clubs and agents using United or journalists creating stories based on nothing, which could end with sufficient clicks to website, other clubs signing the player then another story showing how United missed out, which has been common in the past eight years or so.

Prior to this deal being reached, the 23-year-old was removed from the Ajax squad ahead of a friendly with German side Eintracht Frankfurt, which Ajax won 2-1 and a 2-2 draw against Union Berlin on Sunday. Ajax manager, Eric Ten Hag, reported by the Guardian, stated:

“There are indeed developments that keep him out of the selection. We will see what happens. We’ll make an announcement as soon as there’s some clarity.

“The fact that Donny did not play does indicate a direction. The request not to let him play did not come specifically from one side. We do that together.

“Agreements have been made about a possible transfer, and if that possibility arises you must also cooperate.”

Written by John Walker

Donny van de Beek speculation hots up with Manchester United finalising summer transfer – reports

Manchester United could be on the cusp of signing their first player of the summer with Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek. According to The Sun, the 23-year-old was left out of the Ajax squad with manager Erik ten Hag citing ‘developments’ regarding the future of the player so he missed the pre-season friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt, a 2-1 victory for the home side. It was suggested that both Barcelona and Real Madrid were also interested in signing the midfielder this summer.

However, according to ESPN’s Alex Shaw, United are the frontrunners for the Dutchman this summer. This is a good sign for United, who are obviously seeking to sign a central defender, a midfielder and a winger this summer, which will go a long way to solving some of the problems regarding quality in the overall squad. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a decent starting XI but when rotation needs to happen, the quality of those players coming in are a massive decline based on the past season.

Ten Hag speaking about Van de Beek being left out of the squad, said:

“There are indeed developments that prevent him from being in the selection.

“We are looking at how that will end.”

Earlier this year, before the coronavirus pandemic, it was reported that the Dutchman was on his way to Real Madrid this summer in a deal that could have been worth £47 million. However, the financial repercussions of the pandemic has caused ongoing problems for clubs this summer with the Madrid side suggesting that they would not make any big signings this summer, concentrating on trimming the fat and getting rid of the players that are not longer required at the club.

Van de Beek is a player that has been linked with an exit from Ajax, as many players do in search of moving onto a higher level of the game. United have a good relationship with Ajax, especially with former goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar being the clubs CEO. The now retired goalkeeper once stated that the player could leave the club this summer for the right price, presumably not allowing the player to leave on the cheap, despite the financial after effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

If United actually sign Van de Beek this summer, it could give Solskjaer a fantastic midfield with Bruno Fernandes, 25, Paul Pogba, 27, Van de Beek, 23, Nemanja Matic, 32 and Scott McTominay, 23 as the main midfielders in the squad with Andreas Pereira and Fred both linked with an exit from the Old Trafford club this summer. There will be scope to add a sixth player to the midfield from the academy with James Garner and Dylan Levitt both performing well and the likes of Hannibal Mejbri coming through the ranks.

Written by John Walker

Donny van de Beek awaits Premier League offers; Manchester United should make a move now

Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek expects to leave the Dutch champions this summer and has seemingly got his heart set on a move to the Premier League. The player was all set to leave for Real Madrid if the coronavirus pandemic had not made an appearance in 2020, if reports were to be believed. That said, the player is waiting for offers from Premier League clubs, according to Sky Sports, despite the player being happy to remain at Ajax past the 5 October closure of the summer transfer window.

Back in May, former United goalkeeper and current Ajax chief executive office Edwin van der Sar confirmed that Van de Beek, 23, would be allowed to leave the club the summer, as long as a suitable fee was paid. Despite the reports regarding a move to Madrid, the player had not signed a contract or had a medical at the club prior to the coronavirus hitting Europe in March which saw football leagues suspended with almost immediate effect. The Eredivisie was cancelled with no champions for the 2019/20 season.

Van de Beek will consider a move to the Premier League, like many Dutch players have in the past. United have a good relationship with Ajax, especially with Van der Sar at the club. No offers have been made for the player as yet so perhaps this report will get interested clubs to notice, reminding them that the player is available at the right price this summer. Ajax would rather a deal be done before the 13 September, which marks the start of the 2020/21 season for them. United do not respond well to deadlines though.

In June, Ajax manager Eric Ten Hag confirmed to the media that Van de Beek, Nicolas Tagliafico and Andre Onana could all leave the club this summer. The manager spoke to Dutch news source Het Parool, confirming that the club could cash in on the trio this summer, possibly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It could well be a blow for Ajax, but when you look back at the player they have sold, they always seem to do well out of it, giving a new youth player a chance to shine, ultimately they do. Ten Hag said:

“The transfer market will start in August. The top leagues are now being played out, so the money flows are maintained. The market value of players will be slightly depressed, but not much.

“Based on their performance and ambition, a number of our players also want to make the move abroad. Agreements have been made with Andre Onana, Donny van de Beek and Nicolás Tagliafico, but it remains to be seen whether the market is indeed breaking loose.

“For Onana and Van de Beek, another year of Ajax could certainly be an option, for Tagliafico it is slightly different because of his age.”

Van de Beek’s contract at Ajax will expire during the summer of 2022, so this will be the last summer that the club could maximise the selling price for the player. The 23-year-old can play in central midfield or in attacking midfield, so will bring creativity, should he be signed. During the 2019/20 season, the player made a total of 37 appearances, scoring 10 goals and 11 assists, which if the same happened at United, would see Van der Beek as a better option that Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard at United.

Written by John Walker

Donny van de Beek will be allowed to leave Ajax this summer, along with many other players says Erik ten Hag

Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has admitted that Donny van de Beek could leave the Dutch club this summer, along with some of his teammates. The 23-year-old has been linked to Manchester United over the past few months, along with interest from the club last summer with rumours linking Paul Pogba with an exit from the Old Trafford club

United are reportedly interested in signing a creative midfielder this summer and the Dutchman is supposedly high on their transfer list this summer. The player was linked to Real Madrid, but it is suggested that the Spanish club will not be making any major signings this summer, presumably because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Former United goalkeeper and Ajax chief executive officer Edwin van der Sar has also confirmed United’s interested in the midfielder ahead of the summer transfer window, along with that of Real Madrid. The player has two-years remaining on his current contract, so that gives Ajax an advantage this summer. Van der Sar said:

“It’s clear that clubs like Real Madrid and United are showing interest in Donny van de Beek.”

It is reported that along with Van de Beek, Andre Onana and Nicolas Tagliafico could be set to depart Ajax this summer, which would be a big blow for the club, but in recent years they seem to have done well by replacing departed players with players from the academy, seemingly always falling on their feet and creating more stars. Ten Hag said:

“The transfer market will start in August – the top leagues are now being played out, so the money flows are maintained.

“The market value of players will be slightly depressed, but not much. Based on their performance and ambition, a number of our players also want to make the move abroad.

“Agreements have been made with Andre Onana, Donny van de Beek and Nicolas Tagliafico, but it remains to be seen whether the market is indeed breaking loose.

“For Onana and Van de Beek, another year of Ajax could certainly be an option, for Tagliafico it is slightly different because of his age.”

This season, Van de Beek made a total of 37 appearances for Ajax despite the season being cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic despite other leagues around Europe having plans to resume at a later date. He has scored 10 goals and 11 assists. He could add something to United’s midfield but with Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay and Fred already all vying for positions in the squad.

copyright: JW