Manchester United signed Donny van de Beek from Ajax in the summer of 2020 for an initial fee of £35.7 million, plus add-ons in a deal which would see the Dutchman stay at United until the summer of 2025, although an additional year can be added to the contract at any time. Real Madrid and Barcelona were interested in the then 23-year-old but the coronavirus pandemic gave United a great opportunity to sign the player.
Van de Beek played 175 times for the Ajax first team, scoring 41 goals and 34 assists for the club, also playing 79 times at U21 and U19 level, scoring 25 goals and 21 assists. The majority of the matches he played for Ajax’s first team were either at central midfield or attacking midfield, however, he did also play defensive midfield and left midfield, which covered very few of his appearances. The now 24-year-old has made a total of 39 appearances for United, scoring one goal and two assists.
The Dutchman has perhaps not been given the opportunities that many might have thought he would get at United, with factions of the supposed fan base using his lack of playing time to form an agenda against United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Many of these so-called supporters seem to moan that the lies of Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Fred are playing ahead of the Dutchman – which has been the case. However, there is a stringent point to argue against this.
Donny van de Beek is not competing against the likes of Matic, McTominay and Fred for a place in the starting XI – he is completing against Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba and even Jesse Lingard, who has come into contention this season after a purple patch on loan with West Ham United last season.
In his debut season at United, Van de Beek made 36 appearances in all competitions, scoring one goal and two assists, playing a total of 1,456 minutes of football. So far this season, the 24-year-old has made three appearances for the club, not scoring or assisting a single goal, playing 141 minutes of football, which is considered a crime by some.
During his time at United, he has continues playing familiar positions with most wither at central midfield or attacking midfield, seldom playing at defensive midfield, left midfield and even as a left-winger. This shows that he is against the likes of Fernandes, Pogba and Lingard, amongst others for a place in the attacking areas of the pitch. It is plausible that he was purchased to rotate with Fernandes, which did not happen last season because of the void between the Premier League and the Eredivisie.
Van de Beek was shown in a moment of frustration on Wednesday evening the United beat Villarreal at Old Trafford in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, which was their first points in the competition this season after losing the first match 2-1 to Young Boys. Solskjaer used four of the five permitted substitutes opting to bring Fred and Lingard in the 89th minute of the match, both of whom participated in the play with resulted in Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the winning goal of the match.
It was a gamble and it paid off but the agenda-driven supporters seem more upset that it paid off and United won and that Van de Beek was not used in the match. There always seems to be an agenda when it comes to United. Under Jose Mourinho, it was suggested that he was bullying Luke Shaw. Louis van Gaal was said to dislike Anthony Martial, something which seemingly (according to the agenda-driven so-called fans) continued under Mourinho and now Solskjaer. There always seems to be an excuse for some and it is becoming tiresome.
During the summer, Van de Beek’s representative, Guido Albers, confirmed that a loan move for the player, seemingly to Everton, was blocked. He spoke to talkSPORT exclusively, saying:
“Donny is happy with the fact the club has so much trust in him. But last season was really painful because he didn’t play much. He was ready for this. It’s about choices and timing, you have to accept. He signed a six year contract, but he wants to play.
“In the last few weeks he showed he is ready for the new season and he showed what the club likes to see. So we will see in the next few months whether the club will use him or not. Hopefully they will use him, if not we have to find other solutions. But I don’t think it is necessary.
“In the next months, it will be clearer that Donny can be a really good Man United player and please the fans who are supporting him all the time. He will succeed.”
Then when Ronado returned to the Theatre of Dreams, Albers suggested that it was bad news for his client. Speaking to Ziggo Sport, which was reported by The Athletic, he said:
“Cristiano [Ronaldo] arrived on Friday which we knew was bad news for us. [Paul] Pogba plays on the left, and with Cristiano’s arrival it means another extra player in midfield with Pogba moving away from the left.
“We had conversations with [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer and the board. We took the initiative to find a club and our search ended up at Everton. We opened talks with Marcel Brands and Farhad Moshiri.
“On Monday night (prior to deadline day) we received a call from Solskjaer and the club who told us that a transfer was out of the question and that he had to report himself to training the next morning.”
Solskjaer has made another move to quell the negative approach to Van de Beek’s lack of playing time, likening the Dutchman to himself, who was more regularly coming off the bench than starting matches, hence his nickname of ‘super sub’. Pouring cold water on things like this does not tend to solve them though as agendas tend to grow with such approaches and this one will continue to make mountains out of mole hills. Speaking in his press conference on Friday and reported by the official Manchester United website, Solskjaer said:
“I manage a squad of international footballers. Donny [van de Beek] was ready to come on, as all the players should be.
“I must have the record appearances as a sub. I’ve not been happy a few times. Alex [Telles] was coming off as a left-back and Fred did that job well.
“I understand his [Van de Beek’s] frustration. That’s got to be built into determination. That’s not just Donny but all the players. We need to have positive energy. Donny has never affected his team-mates negatively, I want that out there.”
Rational thought seems to be the abject failure of some in these times. There is always a reaction based on every scenario when Manchester United is up for discussion or indeed, anything else. There is a massive blame culture for this club – when United win, it is because of individual brilliance but then they lose, it is down to the manager. This thought span is not a good one at all. It’s is immature.
It is like supporters just want to be spoilt children all the time, demanding success time and time again because they can do it with pixels on a console. I am sure Van de Beek will get ample opportunity at United and I am also sure that the moaning will continue – no matter who the manager of the club is.
WWritten by John Walker