Donny van de Beek started in Manchester United’s latest Champions League game, a 2-1 loss against BSC Young Boys in Switzerland. The Netherlands international didn’t have much of an impact in his 45 minutes on the pitch. However, playing time is a positive for him. He hasn’t had his chance yet, but there could be a role for him in the 2021/22 campaign.
How Donny van de Beek can Improve Manchester United
Manchester United disappointed in their opening Champions League match, a loss to BSC Young Boys. Unfortunately, a first-half Aaron Wan-Bissaka red card changed their tactics. On the back foot, United lost the tie in the last minute after a poor back pass from Jesse Lingard.
Being rewarded for his hard work in training, Donny van de Beek played the first 45 minutes of the match. Not his best performance, but a positive one for him as he tries to fit into the squad. In an interview, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told MUTV: “he’s been waiting for his chance, he’s been working hard in training, he had his injury in the summer but he’s come back strong and fit and I’m looking forward to seeing him.”
The midfielder has had a hard time adapting to his new life in England, and United have yet to get the best out of him. He took part in 36 matches in the 2020/21 campaign, but only played the full 90 minutes on seven occasions. Van de Beek scored once and assisted twice in those 36 matches.
A New Role for Donny van de Beek
While Van de Beek has not played his best football yet, there is a way Solskjaer could utilise him to benefit the team. Since arriving, he has mostly played in Manchester United’s double pivot in midfield. This position is heavily contested at the club. Paul Pogba, Fred, Scott McTominay, and Nemanja Matić are also all fighting over the two spots.
On the contrary, the attacking midfield position has been occupied by one man: Bruno Fernandes. Last season, the Portuguese was involved in 58 of the Red Devils’ 61 games. While he did score 28 goals and assist 17 more in all competitions, signs of fatigue were starting to show in the later stages of the campaign.
Since United want to compete on every front, they are once again going to play a lot of games this year. To keep Fernandes fresh, Solskjaer would be wise to rotate him out of games of lesser importance. In cup ties against lower league sides and in games where United have a big lead, Fernandes doesn’t always need to be on the pitch. Using Van de Beek in his place could boost his confidence and give him experience while resting Fernandes’ legs for other important matches.
In the years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, Manchester United’s transfer business has been mediocre. Players like Memphis Depay and Ángel Di María make up a list of transfers that didn’t work out. A list that Donny van de Beek hopes not to be added to in the next few years.
However, a few good transfers were made. Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes are two of Manchester United’s best recent players. This year, the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, and Rafael Varane should make the club a contender at every level. Players like Van de Beek will also benefit from the added quality to the squad. The Dutch midfielder could be a good squad player at Manchester United, but he needs more playing time.
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