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Donny van de Beek: His Time Has To Be Now

While Manchester United remain in a turbulent state over the course of the international break, Donny van de Beek may just be psyching himself up for a potential run of games. The Dutchman has barely featured for United this season and has also fallen out of favour with his national team. 

However fortunes may have changed for Van de Beek with Paul Pogba being ruled out for the rest of the year with a thigh injuryPressure is building on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to find a solution to United’s poor form, so could Van de Beek finally get his chance?

It’s been a hugely underwhelming experience at United for Van de Beek, who was signed for a hefty £35.7m fee back in August of 2020 from Ajax, but a lot of that can’t be put down to the player himself. Van de Beek arrived at a team with excellent creative midfielders already present in the form of Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, while Solskjaer has opted to go for tried and tested midfielders in the deeper role meaning the Dutchman has barely been afforded a look in. 

On the surface it’s strange that the club has spent so much money on a player and used him so infrequently but dig a little deeper and the reasoning is a lot clearer. United seemed to have signed Van de Beek without any kind of overall plan or position to play him in; lots of people assumed he would replace Pogba, but the Frenchmen has remained at the club.

This lack of planning and integration strategy for a big signing is just a reflection of the state of the club presently, with recent weeks highlighting the turmoil the club currently faces and the discontent towards the infamous Glazer owners. Its’ also true that some of this discontent has been directed at Norwegian manager Solskjaer, who has obviously had the biggest part in Van de Beek’s limited opportunities. 

However, the takeaway is that United are incompetent from the top down at the current moment in time, which has hugely affected Van de Beek’s United career. For most of the Dutchman’s spell on the side-lines he’s been cool and calm, diligently accepting his role as an occasional substitute, but there have been instances where we’ve seen the frustration boil over. 

A scornful face on the bench and throwing a bib are the height of these incidents, however they are all indicative of a player who is unhappy with their current situation.

Van de Beek actually appeared on Rio Ferdinand’s YouTube channel earlier this year, detailing his experiences so far at the club. As expected, he opened up about his frustration but remained polite and determined throughout, signifying his desire to eventually be a regular for United. Appearances like this have only endeared Van de Beek more to the United faithful, who regularly chant for him to make an appearance. 

It’s interesting to note that when the Dutchman does get a chance, he usually has a solid overall game. An example of this was the 10-minute cameo he made against Atalanta in the Champions League, with an intricate bit of play that eventually ended up in a vital Cristiano Ronaldo goal.

Moments like this are an example of the talent that United and Solskjaer have at their fingertips if they are willing to risk shaking the team up a bit. Unfortunately, the reality is that Van de Beek has made just five appearances so far this season, with only one full 90 against West Ham in the Carabao Cup

Therefore, it’s no surprise that rumours of his agent desperately trying to secure a loan move away from Old Trafford in the summer were rife just after the transfer window closed. Reports are now suggesting that Van de Beek will leave United in January unless something drastic changes- however this drastic change could in fact now be a real possibility.

It’s blatantly clear Solskjaer’s tenure as manager is hanging by a thread, and another defeat could spark a change in manager. If this happens Van de Beek stands a good chance of being able to prove himself and possibly reignite his United career, although a manager change may not even be necessary with Pogba’s injury. 

The chance for Van de Beek to get a run of games has now never been higher, as Solskjaer will be forced to roll the dice and make changes to turn around results. Van de Beek must take this chance in the run up to Christmas and the January transfer window as this will very likely be his last chance at United and determine the future trajectory of his career. 

If he can perform well consistently over the next few months then there is no reason why we shouldn’t expect Van de Beek to have a long-term future at United, finally showcasing his full potential. On the other hand, a bad run of results and lacklustre cameos/performance will likely be the final nail in the coffin for the Dutchman’s United adventure.

Regardless of the outcome over the next few months or year, Van de Beek will retain his enormous potential and talent. At only 24, the ceiling is so high for this creative midfielder and it’s inevitable he will eventually shine- one way or another.

Written by Sam Wilson

Memphis Depay: Right player, wrong time?

In June 2015 Manchester United announced the signing of Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven for a reported fee of £31 million, at the age of 21 Depay said; ‘This is a dream come true for me, a new chapter in my life and one that I am looking forward to’, as reported by BBC Sport.

Things could not have looked better for the youngster, he had been brought to the club by Louis Van Gaal, a manager he had played under for his national team of the Netherlands, and he was seemingly ready to take the next step in his career. 

In his first season at the club Depay made 45 appearances across all competitions, scoring seven goals and getting six assists. While these stats are not abysmal, it is safe to say United fans were hoping for more from a player who cost £31 million and came with a big reputation. 

Things unfortunately went from bad to worse for the winger after the sacking of Louis van Gaal in May of 2016, mere days after securing the FA Cup for United, as reported by BBC Sport. United hired manager Jose Mourinho, a serial winner, but a manager known for putting his trust in veteran players instead of youth, players such as Depay had reason to be concerned. 

Under Mourinho, Depay only played a total of 134 minutes across all competitions, this was nowhere near enough time for the attacker to prove his ability and the player made no attacking returns during this time

It was clear that the manager had no interest in Depay, so when it was announced in January of 2017 that Depay had been sold to French side Lyon for a fee that could rise to £21.7 million, as reported by Sky Sports, it was no surprise for United fans. The young Dutchman’s time and United had come to a disappointing end. 

In the remainder of the 2016/17 season, Depay made an impact at Lyon, making 18 appearances, scoring five goals and getting eight assists. Already, Depay had matched the amount of attacking contributions he made in 18 months at United in under six months in Ligue 1. 

Of course, it must be noted here that Ligue 1 is a much slower league than the Premier League, and for an expressive winger like Depay, this tempo can highlight the strengths of their game while failing to expose their weaknesses.

Players who have failed to make an impact in the Premier League have gone to the French league and looked like world beaters, such as United flop Angel Di Maria. 

In the following season, however, Depay came into his own, making 51 appearances across all competitions, scoring 22 goals and getting 17 assists. He was the talisman of a Lyon side that finished third in the league that season, being their top goal scorer and assister in the league with 19 goals and 13 assists. Depay had seemingly found his feet and was fulfilling his potential.  

The winger maintained steady numbers in his next three seasons at the club, and in his final season for the club in 2020/21 Depay scored 22 goals and 12 assists in 40 appearances. Once again, this season, the winger finished as Lyons top goal scorer and top assister in the league, with 20 goals and 12 assists respectively

It seemed as though Depay had done all he could in France, he had proven the player he can be when given the room to grow and express himself, something we has not given towards the end of this time at United. 

In the summer of 2021, after developing his game in France, it was announced that Depay would sign for Spanish giant Barcelona, with his contract at Lyon coming to an end. This was the move that the winger had been waiting for, a big club in a tough league and regular Champions League football to match the performances he had consistently been putting in at Lyon. 

After the departure of talisman Lionel Messi in the summer of 2021, immense responsibility had landed on the shoulders of Depay, however, he seems to be dealing with the pressure much better than he did as a youngster at United, scoring five goals and having two assists to his name already across all competitions.

For United fans, it is a bittersweet sight to see Depay succeed at a club like Barcelona, it proves that the young winger their club signed in 2015 could have blossomed into a crucial player for the club if he had been given the time to bed into a tough league. 

The Dutchman now mainly plays as a centre forward, a position United have filled with ageing, but elite strikers, in Cristiano Ronaldo and Edinson Cavani. Perhaps, in time, Depay would have proven a better investment than Anthony Martial, who is still at the club and plays in the same positions but has not fulfilled his potential since signing in the same summer as Depay. 

Depay seems to be a case of right player, wrong time. Had he signed for Lyon from PSV instead of making the huge jump at such a young age to a club as big as United, he could still be at the club today and making an impact. Instead, United fans can be happy to see a former player succeed at the top level, even if his form begs the question, ‘what if?’. 

Written by Jennifer McCord

Donny van de Beek should leave Manchester United after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ridiculous comments, says Ian Wright

Former Arsenal forward Ian Wright has urged Donny van de Beek to leave Manchester United suggesting that it is never going to work for the Dutchman at the club. It could be bitterness coming from the former Arsenal player, but there is some truth to this.

Van de Beek was signed from Ajax in a move worth £35 million in the summer of 2020 but after his first season at the club and his lack of appearances in the second season, it seems that his time at the club could be over. This would be a shame as the player is capable of playing some good football but there are more things at work here, not just that the player has a lack of minutes on the pitch.

Many seem to assume that Van de Beek is rivalling the likes of Scot McTominay, Nemanja Matic and Fred for a place in the midfield, but as a player with the speciality of attacking, he is actually rivalling the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard – which is why he’s not playing many minutes at the moment.

Of course, this could all change if the midfielder was given regular minutes and he impressed the manager and coaches at the club, which could give him a chance to stake his claim in the team but realistically, when he has played he has never set the world alight, but that said, he has not been give the chance to either. When a player plays few minutes, they need to be able to offer everything without the chance of mistakes.

During the summer, Van de Beek’s representatives were approached by Everton, which was something that never happened as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turned down any chance of it happening, which suggested the player had a part to play this season – but has not been given many chances so far. Toffees director Marcel Brands will probably make another move for the player in January and the same could be said for Newcastle United, who will have financial might once again.

Wright spoke to Optus Sport about Van de Beek where he spoke about the player from his days at Ajax to now, suggesting that he does not fit the way that United play football. It kind of has some truth to it though. United bought a great player at a competitive rate but it seems clear that he was not the player that Solskjaer wanted, therefore he has been closed out, which seems unfair – it if is true. Wright’s comments were reported by The Mirror, with him saying:

“The way that Ajax play with their possession football, the way that he’s grown up in that Ajax academy knowing how to make moves off of a team that are able to continually hold the ball, is totally different to how Manchester United play.

“It’s baffling to me that he went to Manchester United. It’s not like they’re going to change the way they play for Donny van de Beek to play. The signing was wrong.

“At this stage, I’ve not seen him play more than three games on the spin for Manchester United, it’s gone wrong. He has got to get out of there because it’s not going to work for him at Manchester United.

“He is not going to get the opportunity to play, and he is somebody that should be playing because he is a fantastic player.”

Wright’s comments seem to come from the recent match which saw an annoyed Van de Beek after he was not brought on the pitch, but Fred was. The Dutchman showed his discontent, which is natural, especially when he will have been watching Fred from the sidelines, a player that has not exactly got what United need in his locker. After that match, Solskjaer made a comment suggesting that he did not need ‘sulkers’ in his squad, saying:

“If we’re going to be successful together, we know that we need positive energy. We can’t have sulkers, but Donny has never affected his team-mates negatively.

“As soon as I see players affecting the team negatively that’s a different scenario and I’ll probably be a little bit firmer.”

Wright then concluded what he was saying, commenting on the ‘ridiculous interview’ that Solskjaer had with the media, saying:

“We’re talking about somebody who’s not even had a chance and he’s obviously been very professional about what he’s doing, and he’s [Solskjaer’s] saying if he sees anything different, what, he’s going to blow him out? Ridiculous interview.”

It seems that it is only a matter of time before Manchester United and Donny van de Beek part ways. With Everton having interest in the player, it could be positive for United, who will need to bring in some money, also reduce the wage bill before signing a new player. That said, Newcastle United’s transfer of ownership could change the situation as the club will be seeking to sign better players in a bid to remain in the Premier League and challenge for a UEFA Champions League place in the not too distant future.

Something will need to give as these rumours will continue to do more harm than good. Solskjaer has stated that he has plans for the Dutchman but these pundits just don’t seem to let things rest, picking an international break to cause more doom and gloom, especially after United failed to beat Everton in the last match before the break, drawing 1-1 in a match that Everton seemed to show themselves as the better team.

Written by John Walker

Where Are They Now? Ruud van Nistelrooy – 150 goal striker was a great purchase for United

Manchester United signed Ruud van Nistelrooy for £19 million in the summer of 2001 but wanted to complete the deal in the summer of 2000 but the player suffered a rupture to his anterior cruciate knee ligaments during a training session, which kept him out of action for the following year. At the time he was signed by United, it was a relatively risky deal considering the injury he had suffered a year before but United were ready to take the gamble. At the time he signed for United, Van Nistelrooy said:

“The price is not heavy for me – it lifts me up because it means United have big confidence in me.”

The Dutchman spend five seasons at United, playing 219 times and scoring 150 goals – a feat in modern day football. In terms of goals scored for United, Van Nistelrooy sits in eleventh place with the likes of Paul Scholes, Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs, Joe Spence, George Best, Dennis Viollet, Jack Rowley, Denis Law, Sir Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney ahead of him. The Dutchman was a great striker of the ball and a great player of his time.

Van Nistelrooy also assisted 21 times for United, showing that he was not always that selfish striker and would lay on goals for his teammates. This is something that was good to see at the time as most players would prefer to score themselves. He scored six hat-tricks for United in his time at the club, scoring three goals in a match five times, scoring four goals once. United had not seen a hat-trick since Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored one against Saint-Étienne in the UEFA Europa League in February 2017 until Marcus Rashford scored his first senior career hat-trick against RB Leipzig on Wednesday.

Before signing for United, Van Nistelrooy has youth careers with Nooit Gedacht (1981-90), RKSV Margriet (1990-91) and Den Bosch (1991-93), making the senior team for the latter from 1993-97. He then signed for Heerenveen, leaving in 1998 for PSV Eindhoven, the club he left for head to United. Van Nistelrooy was passionate and according to former teammate, Paul Scholes, he used to sulk if rival, Thierry Henry had scored. Scholes said:

“I played No.10 with Ruud van Nistelrooy for a season and I loved it.

“He’s just a ruthless, ruthless goalscorer. He just lived for scoring goals.

“Whenever he did score or didn’t score, the first thing he would do when we got on the team bus after the game was see if Thierry Henry scored.

“If Thierry Henry had scored he wouldn’t talk to anybody for the full trip home because he was so engrossed in being the leading goalscorer, not just at United but in the league, in the world, everywhere.”

Van Nistelrooy won the Premier League Golden Boot for the 2002/03 season, with Henry winning the season before and the three seasons after, with the Dutchman scoring 25 goals in the league alone that season. Van Nistelrooy is amongst five players who have won the Golden Boot for United in the league; Dwight Yorke (1998/99), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007/08), Dimitar Berbatov (2010/11), and Robin van Persie (2012/13). The rivalry with Henry was intense.

Van Nistelrooy scored 95 goals in 150 Premier League appearances, which is a great feat considering the five seasons he was part of at United. Scholes also spoke about his former teammate’s finishing, which was rather spectacular. Scholes has played with Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie but classes the Dutchman was the best finisher of the lot, saying:

“I loved the way he finished. Look, I played with some unbelievable centre-forwards. You are thinking [Andy] Cole, Yorke, [Teddy] Sheringham, [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer. There are loads. Van Persie I played with as well.

“There are some unbelievable goalscorers. But to me, Ruud was the best, he was the best finisher.”

Former United teammate Darren Fletcher also spoke to the media about Van Nistelrooy, confirming that ‘if he hadn’t scored he’s be absolutely raging,’ which shows how passionate the Dutchman was about finding the back of the net. Perhaps he went too far by raging if he didn’t score, but you will understand the challenges they he set himself, aiming to score every time he played, which is a great work ethic. Fletcher said:

“Ruud [Van Nistelrooy] was brilliant and a great guy in the dressing as well.

“I sat beside him and he really looked after me when I first got into the team. I didn’t drive for a while and he used to pick me up and be my chauffeur!

“But he was [obsessed with scoring].

“We’d win a game 4-0 but if he hadn’t scored he would come into the dressing room and throw his boots against the wall, he’d be slapping his boots down, he’d be absolutely raging!

“Everyone else was like, ‘we’ve just won 4-0’, but for him he was that ruthless as a goal scorer he just wanted to score in every game.

“It didn’t matter if we won 5-0, 4-0, 3-0 – if he hadn’t scored he’s be absolutely raging.

“That was his weekend destroyed!”

In the summer of 2006, Van Nistelrooy left United, with then manager, Sir Alex Ferguson confirming that the player wanted to leave, seemingly after a furious bust-up between the pair in the final Premier League game of the 2005/06 season, which was unfortunate. Real Madrid and Bayern Munich seemed interested in the player with a €14 million bid accepted and the player heading to Madrid. It was a shame to see this prolific goalscorer leave the club.

Van Nistelrooy spent three and a half seasons in Madrid, playing 96 times, scoring 64 goals and assisting a further 16. After Madrid, he left for the Bundesliga, signing for Hamburger SV in January 2010 for 18 months and played 44 times, scoring 17 goals and a further three assists. After his time in Germany, La Liga called again with his signing for Malaga, spending one season at the club, where he played 32 times, scoring five goals and one assist. That was the end of the road for the Dutchman, playing anyway.

Van Nistelrooy has a glittering career as a player, winning two Eredivisie titles and one Johan Cruyff Shield at PSV, one Premier League title, one FA Cup, one League Cup and one FA Community Shield at United, winning two La Liga titles and one Supercopa de Espańa at Real Madrid – a total of ten different trophies for three different clubs. At international level, Van Nistelrooy played for the Netherlands, making his debut in 1998 and hanging up his boots for his country in 2011, playing 70 times and scoring 35 goals – his first against Morocco in a friendly in 1999, his last against Hungary in 2011 as part of the qualification for UEFA Euro 2012.

On the 22 June 2013, Van Nistelrooy joined former club PSV Eindhoven as a coaching intern working with the U17 level within the club’s academy. Just three years later, it was revealed that the Dutchman would become the striker coach for the U17, U19 and the reserve team. Whilst back at PSV, Van Nistelrooy helped then Netherland’s coach, Guus Hiddink after the 2014 FIFA World Cup, after Louis van Gaal left the team for United, this was additional to he work with PSV.

Van Nistelrooy is the coach for the U19s at PSV after succeeding Mark van Bommel, who was promoted to first team head coach after Phillip Cocu left for Fenerbahçe, at the time. He is also the assistant coach of the Netherlands and was part of Ronald Koeman’s coaching staff before he left for Barcelona. The Dutchman is obviously setting up the foundations for a career in management, starting at youth level, aiming to work his way up. Currently 44, he has plenty of time to set his sights on the goal he wants. Perhaps he’s happy having a role in the development of the teenagers he’s working with. At the time he was made the head of PSV’s U19s, Van Nistelrooy said:

“This is a great opportunity to take the next step in my development. I have thought about it and talked about it extensively with a number of people.

“This is a great time to take on this job. I am really looking forward to working with this talented group in this position.”

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 omroepgelderland.nl 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

Ones That Got Away: Jaap Stam – a great defender that didn’t get to stay for long

Jakob Stam, best known as Jaap Stam was born in Kampen, Overijssel in the Netherlands on the 17th July 1972. The Dutch international signed for Manchester United back in 1998 for £10.6 million, from PSV Eindhoven, a club United have done a lot of business with in the past, the most recent signing to come from the club was Memphis Depay in the summer of 2015. During his time playing for PSV in his native Holland, Stam had tasted glory by winning the Eredivisie, the KNVB Cup and the Johan Cryuff Shield twice.

Moving to United was only going to continue his glory. Stam signed for United during the summer of 1998, the season United went on to win that illustrious treble, Stam being intrinsic to that feat with his calmness in defence, his ability on the ball and his determination to win. Stam was one of the best defenders at the club, winning the Premier League three times, during all three of the season’s he played at the club, also winning the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League during the treble-winning season, adding the Intercontinental Cup later in 1999 – his third trophy at the club at the time – his sixth trophy at the club.

Stam, despite being a great player, was sold to Lazio for £15.3 million, nearly £5 million in profit from his signing for United three years previous, in what was a shock to many United supporters. A disagreement with manager Sir Alex Ferguson seemed to end his time at United, something that affected the club going forward for a season or so, with Rio Ferdinand being his replacement almost a year later, something which worked for Ferguson and United, bringing a player who dominated in United’s defence for over a decade – partnering with Nemanja Vidic for much of that spell at the club.

Stam was a still a great player at the time he was sold by Ferguson, still had years left at the top of his game, and could have helped United dominate a lot more if he had remained at the club. United did need to rebuild their side after their treble heroics, but the way Stam left the club was a massive shock, but something Ferguson did based on comments made in the player’s autobiography.

During his time at Lazio, Stam was banned for five months after having traces of nandrolone after a drug test following a Serie A match, which was then reduced to four months after a semi-successful appeal. With Lazio, Stam won the Coppa Italia. He left Lazio for AC Milan in 2004, staying in the Serie A continuing his success by lifting the Supercoppa Italiana. Stam left Milan for the Netherlands in 2006, ending his playing career ar Ajax.

At Ajax, Stam only played on for one more year, winning the KNVB Cup and the Johan Cruyff Shield twice. His total trophy haul during his career amounted to 15 trophies. Stam played for the Netherlands 67 times, scoring three goals for his country. Although he did not win any trophies at international level, Stam did help his side to a fourth-placed finish in the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, which was a great achievement.

After retiring as a player, Stam took some time out of the game before becoming interim manager at PEC Zwolle in the Netherlands in 2009, then becoming the assistant manager in 2011, leaving in 2013. Stam then became an assistant with Ajax, the last club he played for, which lasted for three years, leaving in 2016 for a position in the Ajax Academy, leaving that role in 2016 to become the permanent manager of Championship club Reading. Stam managed the Berkshire club until the 21 March 2018 when it was announced that he had left the club after the clubs poor form.

In the Emirates FA Cup during the 2016/17 season, Stam led his Reading side out against his former club at Old Trafford but he saw his side beaten 4-0 with Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial scoring a goal each and Marcus Rashford scoring a brace. Stam holds no grudges about his time at United, and neither should he after winning six trophies at the club, the most successful time of his career. After Reading, Stam returned to Zwolle on the 28 December 2018 but left to manage PSV in March 2019. Stam resigned in October 2019, saying:

“I’ve thought about this for a long time. My final conclusion is that it’s better for the club, the players and myself if I step aside.”

In May 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, Stam returned to management, becoming the FC Cincinnati head coach in the MLS in the United States of America. Stam led his side into the MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, Florida, winning two of the three group stage matches, but losing on penalties in the round of 16 to Portland Timbers, then eventual winners. His side has just won two of the seven matches played with him as the head coach.

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

Memphis Depay seeking a transfer from Lyon. Could a second chance at Old Trafford work for him?

Former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay has reportedly issued a come and get me plea with supposed interest from Premier League side Everton and La Liga side Barcelona this summer. The Dutchman seems to be a much changed player following his 18-month spell at United which started under the reign of Louis van Gaal and ended under the reign of Jose Mourinho about six months into the Portuguese managers spell at the club, which also ended in tears, like his predecessor.

Lyon reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals last season and were beaten 3-0 by the eventual champions, Bayern Munich. During the 2019/20 season, despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic ended up cancelling the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons in France, Depay made a total of 22 appearances, scoring 15 goals and two assists. It was a standout season for the Dutchman He played his first match for his club during the 2020/21 season against Dijon on Friday, scoring a hat-trick in the 4-1 victory.

Before United signed Depay, he was playing for PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands and made a total of 124 appearances, scoring 50 goals and 29 assists, which is the reason he was signed by Van Gaal in the summer of 2015 but it did not work for him at United with just 53 appearances, scoring seven goals and six assists, which was poor considering what he had achieved in the Netherlands. At Lyon, he had made a total of 139 appearances, scoring 57 goals and 43 assists. Depay spoke to the media after Friday’s victory over Dijon with The Sun quoting him as saying:

“I do not see the future, I do not know if I will do the full season here. I have been here for four years, I became captain.

“After you have to look at your career, there is no Champions League. At the moment I don’t know. I’m really happy to have scored three goals today.

“It wasn’t the best game I’ve played but we start the season with three points, and that’s the most important thing.”

I liked Depay as a player when he signed for United. He seemed to be the missing piece at the time, based on his performances, goals and assists whilst at PSV and the fact that he was the defining player in their league title for the 2014/15 season. However, despite this he hugely faltered at United and became a player that was more frustrated than anything else. The playing style of the club was not the greatest and not to Depay’s strengths, which might have been the main problem.

When Mourinho arrived at the club, Depay already had a mark over him and for a new manager, it meant that if it did not work, he was likely to be moved on quickly, which is what happened. In January 2017, Mourinho allowed the player to be sold to Lyon for £16 million, which could rise to £21.7 million according to the Telegraph. His contract in France ends in the summer of 2021, so this will be the clubs last major chance to get some money for him with him able to sign a pre-contract agreement for a foreign club from January.

Could Depay be a player that United could utilise under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer? Granted, the 26-year-old would fit into the attack dominated playing style and his pace and ability would be seen as a positive but with the performances of Anthony Martial (23 goals, 12 assists), Marcus Rashford (22 goals, 10 assists) and Mason Greenwood (17 goals, five assists) I doubt that he would be anything other than a squad player under Solskjaer. It would have been good to see him succeed at United but it did not happen, probably for the reasons stated and could see him fail again.

Written by John Walker

copyright: JW