Donny van de Beek
The signing of Donny van de Beek came out of nowhere when Manchester United announced his arrival last summer. While most fans were waiting on the arrival of the likes of Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish, United scouted the former Ajax midfielder. Supporters expected a creative, controlling, and crucial signing. However, Donny van de Beek is just not that. He is safe, subtle, and sporadic. Those qualities are by no means bad but are simply not what United planned on buying this summer. Now nearly a season in, it looks as if van de Beek might leave Old Trafford just as quickly as he arrived. Being only 23, Donny still has lots of time to grow into Manchester United’s system. Yet, the questions lurk around Donny van de Beek’s future at Manchester United.
Positioning Confusion: Is he an 8 or a 10?
One of the first questions around van de Beek concerns where he plays best. Originally, United announced van de Beek as a CAM. Fabrizio Romano even confirmed that van de Beek desired primarily playing as a CAM for United. However, Bruno Fernandes hardly ever misses games at United, meaning Donny rode the bench early on. The other two main targets of the summer (Grealish and Sancho) both play on the wings and the midfielder. Meaning that United surely was looking for a “winger/midfielder” type this summer when they signed Donny. Yet, Ole appears afraid to play Donny out wide. Even when given ample opportunity, Ole prefers to play Pogba on the wing or prospects like Amad. If he’s not a winger, then Donny must play as a deeper midfielder.
Personally, I thought van de Beek would receive a long stretch of starts when Pogba went down injured. However, the starts didn’t come. Maybe Donny isn’t comfortable in the pivot yet or he is still holding out hope to get a run of games at CAM. Either way, Donny continues to ride the bench. To play more, Donny must impress in the CDM pivot. Bruno will not be giving up the CAM position anytime soon, but van de Beek could easily be his backup. To flourish, van de Beek needs to learn how to use his ball-playing skills as a CDM and be ready at moment’s notice to backup Bruno. The easiest road to regular game time for van de Beek requires Donny to play rotationally in the pivot and sporadically at CAM. It does not matter if Donny is a CAM or CDM; He must be both.
His Opportunities Depend on the Transfer Window
Pogba’s decision this summer will greatly impact van de Beek. Ole uses two pivots most frequently: The Pogba and Matic Duo and “McFred” of Scott Mctominay and Fred. However, if Pogba leaves then van de Beek could slip into some games in the pivot. Matic (or a similar styled CDM like Declan Rice) will need a forward-thinking player to advance play alongside him in the pivot. Donny provides just that. The Dutchman is able to subtly impact the game, continue the flow of possession and take some pressure off the forwards. Currently, the role van de Beek would fit best belongs to Paul Pogba. Yet, a transfer of Pogba opens a new world to van de Beek at United.
Conversely, Pogba staying makes van de Beek’s situation even messier. Donny then would have to find a different avenue to playing time at United. He could attempt to take game time from the McFred duo, but it looks unlikely. Still, Ole may try him out wide, but van de Beek is unnatural there. However, if Pogba stays and United sign a quality winger this summer, Donny van de Beek might need to be getting out of Manchester on the first chance he gets. Everything depends on how badly Donny wants to make it work at Manchester United.
It’s Donny van de Beek’s Decision in the End
Ultimately, it comes down to Donny. Staying at Manchester United means that he’ll have to earn playing time, but it also offers great rewards. Some chances depend on if Pogba stays and the results of United’s transfer window. The opportunity for van de Beek to develop at United is certainly not gone. Yet if he wants to, Donny can leave this summer in search of more consistent playtime. It’s up to him.
Glory Glory Man United.
Written by CJ Szaz.