When Donny Van de Beek signed for Manchester United, the former goalkeeper of the Red Devils Edwin Van der Sar sent a special message to his ex-team urging them to take good care of the Dutch young midfielder. And it is easy to see why. It can be tough to fit Van de Beek into a new team.
Donny Van de Beek is not your quintessential attacking midfielder, neither is he the best ball-winner on the park, nor the best passer. When he joined Man Utd, Ole Solskjaer found it tough to play him regularly. But, if recent Champions League and Premier League performances are a sign of things to come, the £35 million Manchester United spent on him may end up being a bargain.
With midfielders like Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, and Fred competing for three spots alongside Van de Beek, things can get pretty competitive. And, with Bruno Fernandes being a constant due to his exceptional goal-scoring skills, getting to the first team gets even tougher for Van de Beek.
What ends up happening is most of the attacking burden is shared by Rashford, Martial and Fernandes while Matic, Fred, and McTominay often provide cover to the defense. This works perfectly well against the big teams as Manchester United counterattack well after sustaining pressure. However, when it comes to play weaker teams at Old Trafford, the Red Devils can find tough to score.
Teams sit back and Solskjaer’s squad do not progress the ball quick enough to cause significant damage. This is exactly where Donny Van de Beek leaves his mark. He is a quick passer and does not take extra crucial moments on the ball. This contrasts with players like Matic and Pogba who often take too much time moving the ball forward. So, Van de Beek alongside the similarly positive Fred is a great combination especially at home against the mid-table teams. It gives United greater potency going forward albeit at the expense of defensive solidarity.
And if van de Beek can add to his defensive game a bit more, he could nail a place in the side becoming a key part of their counter-attacking plan vs the big teams. Till then, Van de Beek can take his time as it is still his first year, and being just 23 years old, there is a lot of football ahead of him and time to grow.