Since joining Manchester United in the summer from AFC Ajax for a fee of £40million, Donny van de Beek has not had the perfect of starts to his new adventure at Old Trafford. So far this season, he has only made six league appearances, which have all been from the bench, where he has completed only 88 minutes of English football in his first months under manager Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer.
However, with the recent knocks to Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay, he was given his first Premier League start against Southampton, where he was able to show his intelligence on the ball, impressive movement and ability to help the team tick from midfield to attack. The Dutchman played the full game, completing 38 successful passes in 64 touches of the ball, winning seven out of 12 ground duels as well as achieving four tackles, proving to show how complete he is as a player.
Van de Beek is more than capable of playing in different tactical roles in midfield, from being a ball progressor in a double pivot to a box to box midfielder in the number eight position, and also as the advanced midfielder in the number ten role, which he thrived within at Ajax. In his final season in Eredivise, he produced eight goals and five assists in 23 league appearances, as he excelled as the attacking player in a three-man midfield, through his unique way of thinking outside of the box.
With a huge number of fixtures coming up for Manchester United in the month of December, including matches against Paris Saint-Germain, Leipzig, Manchester City, Leeds United, Leicester City and Wolves, Solskjaer will have to ensure the midfield department is rotated effectively to avoid any problems with fatigue or issues with injuries. On that note, van de Beek is surely expected to receive enough game time and appearances, in order to prove himself to the manager and to his critics.
Following his impressive performances recently at home to Istanbul Basaksehir and now away at Southampton, the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping that the central midfield can build on from this and continue to establish a strong combination with his midfield team-mates in Bruno Fernandes and Fred. And if he is able to help the team on both sides of the pitch, it would not be a surprise to see Pogba leaving in the January window, who has been linked with both Juventus and Real Madrid.
Given that both Manchester United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have had major problems in breaking down the opposition’s low blocks in the past, they finally have a midfielder other than Bruno Fernandes available to them, in van de Beek, who is capable of overcoming pressure on and off the ball and is adaptable to making the necessary interception or tackle.
Overall, it is too early for the critics and for the English media to write off a player like Donny van de Beek, who has been slowly eased into the club and into the line-up as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had some difficulties in finding the right balance and consistency in midfield. Once the 23-year-old hits the ground running and is a regular starter for the side, the only way is up for all parties involved.