Manchester United: Donny van de Beek is too good to be another wasted transfer

Donny Pogba

Donny van de Beek is a player raised the Ajax way. 

Working his way up through the ranks at one of Europe's most historic clubs who famously devote love and attention into making sure their players can play a number of different positions, the 23-year-old has had a wonderful footballing education. 

After all, this is a man who has played over 50 times in two different midfield positions even at his young age and almost 30 in a deeper role.

The fluidity so synonymous with Total Football - or Totaalvoetbal to be more authentic - runs through his veins.

Which makes his current predicament so strange. 

Afforded just over an hour of Premier League action this season, the situation has got so bad Marco van Basten and Patrice Evra have both publicly questioned the decision just a few weeks into his first season. 

While those outside the club can never be totally sure of course, it's hard to imagine the player himself being the problem. 

Indeed, the whole idea of signing him in the first place looks to have been an ill-thought out one. Creative midfield is one of few areas United are stocked better than most in the shape of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba, with Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard offering back-ups. 

That isn't to say van de Beek isn't an upgrade on the latter two but considering the obvious flaws in defence and the haggling over Jadon Sancho, was paying £40m for a man not guaranteed a starting berth the best use of funds? 

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Perhaps the fact he's sat on the bench would be easier to swallow if he were in direct competition with Fernandes and Pogba.

At least then, you could argue that both have qualities that make them first-choice when fully fit and have proven themselves at this level while van de Beek works his way through the natural adjustment period. 

Sadly, that's doesn't even appear to be the case.

What is more alarming is the fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjær has found a formula to play in bigger games which involves sacrificing one creative outlet for steel in the shape of Fred and Scott McTominay, rendering van de Beek somewhat redundant. 

Much like Jack Grealish with England too, his lack of searing pace means Mason Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are more explosive options in a 4-3-3. 

For a player raised in the Dutch capital underneath the spectre of one Johan Cruyff, the fact a path into either of the best iterations of this United side is blocked is akin to owning a swiss army knife and only using it to try and start a car.

So many uses and potential problems answered yet attempting the one thing that simply won't work. 

There have been bigger names signed for more money during the Ed Woodward era at Manchester United but perhaps no ill-fated transfer will be as galling as this one.

This is player with so much of his career ahead of him and there isn't even the semi-sadistic intrigue of a signing simply crashing and burning.


Right now, it all appears to be met with merely a shrug of the shoulders. Rhetorical questions from pundits as to why he was signed before moving onto another problem at the club. 

The apathy of it all speaks to a club without a plan so long that their trek deeper and deeper into the wilderness is becoming that chapter in a book that takes too long. The final series of Game Thrones. If the Lord Mayor's show was the decline, we're now so entrenched in the quasi-psycho analysis that it's hard to remember why it was ever that interesting in the first place. 

Donny van de Beek is better than that. Manchester United - in their current state - aren't. 

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