Danielle van de Donk: Why Arsenal will regret letting the Dutch star leave

Danielle van de Donk

Arsenal have confirmed the departure of Danielle van de Donk, who will join Lyon ahead of the 2021/22 season.

The Dutch midfielder leaves North London upon the expiry of her contract, after spending six years with the club. 

A lot of rumours were swirling around her exit as the Women's Super League season came to a close. Now the talks are confirmed though, just how big of a loss to Arsenal is she going to be? GiveMeSport Women looks back at her achievements with the Gunners and how they may live to regret letting her leave the club.

WSL winning season

Arsenal last won the WSL title back in 2019 and van de Donk played an instrumental part in their success.

Alongside recent signing and Dutch teammate Vivianne Miedema, the two were ruthless in attack. Van de Donk finished as the fourth-highest scorer for the season with 11 goals and an additional six assists from 18 out of a possible 20 league starts. 

The midfielder tallied 23 goal contributions across all competitions that season, which is an astonishing number for a midfielder. After delivering such influential performances, her role at the club should have been cemented, but she gradually faded into the background as the years went on.

Danielle van de Donk

FA Cup and Conti Cup

The Gunners haven't won a trophy since they lifted the 2018/19 WSL title, but prior to that, they were one of the top sides to beat.

Van de Donk was involved in two major trophy runs – helping Arsenal win the 2016 FA Cup and 2018 Continental Cup. In fact, one of her early games came against Chelsea in the FA Cup final, where she enjoyed her first taste of glory with her new side after a 1-0 win at Wembley.

The playmaker established herself as a stalwart for Joe Montemurro's side and was almost untouchable in the starting lineup. But after Arsenal scouted new talent on the transfer market, van de Donk found her position heavily contested for and she eventually lost her place.

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Lack of minutes

A player of van de Donk's calibre must be the focal point of any midfield. Her work both on and off the balls makes her one of the best in the world in her position, but Arsenal failed to utilise this towards the end of her time in North London.

Last season, she averaged just under 60 minutes per game in the WSL, which doesn't seem too bad considering Montemurro was also trying to keep fellow Dutch star Jill Roord and Aussie icon Caitlin Foord happy.

However, van de Donk was sometimes limited to just five minutes on the pitch, which is offensive for a 29-year-old still very much in her prime.

Arsenal's opening match of the season against Reading saw the midfielder involved for just 22 minutes, followed by a half-hour run out against West Ham the following week.

Danielle van de Donk

While she may have been handed some starts and sometimes played the full 90, she would then revert back to being benched and making brief cameo appearances in some of the biggest games of the season. Van de Donk's final WSL match for Arsenal saw her get just 19 minutes of game time in an underwhelming 0-0 draw against Aston Villa.

This is baffling for a proven international with more than 114 appearances and 28 goals for her country, plus a World Cup silver medal in her cabinet.

Had she been utilised more this season, the Netherlands maestro may have put pen to paper and signed a new deal with the club. Although, no talks had been heard of a potential contract being put on the table – which means if Arsenal have willingly let her leave, they have made a grave error and are going to struggle immensely to find someone cut from the same cloth as van de Donk.

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