Donny van de Beek: Man Utd's four exciting ways to line up with Ajax star in 2020/21


Manchester United are on the brink of signing Donny van de Beek from Ajax.

United fans have been taken aback by how slow the transfer activity has been at Old Trafford this summer, but proceedings could hardly have moved any faster in their approach of Van de Beek.

Ajax are believed to have accepted United's initial bid without any negotiations and the Dutchman is an open admirer of the club, so personal terms were a similarly straightforward conversation.

Van de Beek on the brink of signing

Van de Beek was absent from training with the Dutch national team on Monday as he completed his United medical, essentially wrapping up the £40 million deal in the process.

As a result, supporters are simply waiting for the club to confirm that his signature has dried on the contract because even some of Van de Beek's teammates are treating it as a done deal.

During the Netherlands press conference, Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk reacted by saying: "If it happens – and it looks like it – then I give him that wholeheartedly. 


"Great for him, great for Dutch football, for the Dutch national team and another great club for an Oranje player. The same goes for Nathan Aké who has gone to Manchester City." 

A great coup for Man Utd

So, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can start laying plans for his new midfielder without worrying about the deal falling through, but slotting Van de Beek into the starting XI won't necessarily be hand in glove.

Though you can hardly blame United for signing one of Europe's best midfielder for a decent price, there's no denying that the centre of the pitch hasn't necessarily been a priority for the club.

You have to imagine that securing a centre-back, right winger or centre forward is higher on the to-do list at Old Trafford, but signing Van de Beek gives them an enviable headache nonetheless.


Selection headache of OGS

Besides, it's not as easy as simply rolling Van de Beek into the same midfield trio as Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes; Solskjaer has to strike the right defensive and offensive balance.

So, bearing that in mind, we took inspiration from the Manchester Evening News and The Sun to construct four different ways United could line-up with Van de Beek for the 2020/21 season.

To get an idea of how the Ajax man could feature at the 'Theatre of Dreams' in the coming weeks, check out quartet of systems down below and see which of them tickles your fancy the most:


1. Van de Beek as the attacking midfielder

With 14 goals and seven assists in all competitions last season, everyone knows that Van de Beek is one of Europe's finest creative players and this set-up would definitely suit the Dutchman best.

However, it would likely mean that either Fernandes or Pogba would drop out of the starting XI to allow Nemanja Matic to provide defensive cover while still maintaining the club's thrilling front three.

Even if Solskjaer prefers Pogba and Fernandes to retain their incredible partnership, you can expect Van de Beek to lead the midfield at some point as the squad is rotated through its hectic 2020/21 fixtures.


2. Van de Beek teaming up with Fernandes

There aren't many games where United would be allowed the luxury of playing two midfielders so highly up the pitch, but the prospect of Fernandes and Van de Beek doing so is pretty terrifying.

This could be a brilliant way for Solskjaer to set up his team if they're playing at Old Trafford against a team that sits deep or offers very little on the counterattack, allowing the midfield to launch siege.

You could even swap out Fernandes for Pogba if you so desire, the line-up would still look menacing either way.


3. Van de Beek playing deeper

As much as Van de Beek prefers to play further up the pitch, United could reap the benefits of his versatility and the Dutchman is no stranger to playing in a more traditional midfield role.

In fact, the majority of Van de Beek's goals have actually come from a more deep-lying position and he could help offer some defensive solidity alongside either Pogba or Matic in front of the back four.

This seems to be the most logical selection when you consider just how instrumental Fernandes has been since his January arrival and the Portuguese is therefore worthiest of leading the midfield.


4. Switch to a midfield diamond

It goes without saying that this is the most unrealistic formation of the four, don't get us wrong, but this would be the reality if you wanted Pogba, Fernandes, Van de Beek and Matic all playing.

To be honest, we can't really see Solskjaer flooding the centre quite so dramatically, although it could have some scope if United are playing a team that offers minimal threat down the wings.

Otherwise, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka should probably kiss goodbye to their lungs for 90 minutes as they try to marshal two entire touchlines either side of this compact midfield diamond.


GIVEMESPORT's Kobe Tong says

It really is a positive headache, but a headache nonetheless.

You can never have too much quality in a squad, don't get me wrong, but Solskjaer runs the risk of upsetting the applecart when you consider how well Pogba, Fernandes and Matic worked as a trio.

And with United already proving a top-heavy side, they simply can't run the risk of not instructing one of their three midfielders to play defensively and certainly not against their 'top six' rivals. 


I actually see the third option as the most likely pick for Solskjaer, because Fernandes has been too reliable at the head of the midfield for him to simply toss that approach on the scrapheap. 

But if the club really are going to back their investment in Van de Beek, then they'll play him further up the pitch just as he does for Ajax and hope that he can transfer his form to England.

All that being said, though, the fact Solskjaer has so many options is indeed a positive and although top players will have to stomach more time on the bench, it does United's squad depth the world of good.


The Premier League better take note because United are entering 2020/21 with both quality and quantity. 

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