Donny van de Beek’s impressive Everton display raises important Manchester United question

Donny van de Beek made his first start since joining Everton on loan from Manchester United on Saturday, playing a key role in the Merseysiders 3-0 victory over Leeds United.

The Dutchman had struggled to secure a regular spot in Manchester United’s starting 11 since he arrived at the club, with neither Ole Gunnar Solskjaer nor Ralf Rangnick willing to give the midfielder an extended run in the side.

This lack of faith shown in the 24-year-old at Old Trafford was undoubtedly a factor behind his forgettable displays on the rare occasions in which he was called upon.

However, it’s a different story at Everton with Frank Lampard in charge. The new Everton boss spoke about his faith and admiration for Van de Beek in the wake of his side’s standout 3-0 win on Saturday.

“I knew Donny as a player from the outside and I brought him here because of his talent in terms of his play, his intelligence and his work ethic.

He’s a technical player but he matched the other players for work ethic. He gave us a sense of calm and he linked the play. He looked confident on the ball and that’s exactly what I brought him here to do.”

Issues for Van de Beek at United seem to consistently center around a lack of openings in the side which would best suit his profile.

The Dutchman built his reputation at Ajax as an attacking midfielder, scoring goals with late runs and creating chances for teammates inside the final third.

United already had a profile fitting that bill in the form of Bruno Fernandes, meaning he was rarely going to be used in the same way for the Reds.

There’s also been a lingering belief that he didn’t have the physical profile suited to playing a deeper role, which is why he’s only rarely featured there for United. Yet Lampard’s view is entirely different on that point.

“I think he can do different roles and that’s the beauty (of him) and why I moved so quickly to try and get him when I came in.

I’m a big admirer of him as a player and I think he can do both roles for us (higher or deeper). He played as one of two midfield players today and I know he’s got the talent to link and get us through the lines of the pitch with his passing from him, and he also has the work ethic needed in that role.

Against Leeds, Van de Beek was deployed as a central midfielder alongside Allan in a 4-4-2 formation.

In the game, no Everton player played more successful passes than the Dutchman (35). He also topped the charts in terms of playing the highest number of progressive passes (five). These are passes that advance the team at least ten yards closer to the opposition’s goal.

Although many United fans will be glad to see the popular Dutchman starting to show his true qualities, the same is simultaneously adding scrutiny on the club’s decision to let him leave for the remainder of the season.

For some time, United have looked depleted in the midfield area, and bringing at least one new recruit in that area will be the club’s number one priority.

Yet during this whole period, Van de Beek has been sitting on the outskirts of the squad, never truly given the platform to show how he could be capable of providing the quality in the middle that the team desperately craves.

It’s a positive that Van de Beek’s departure was at least only on loan, and not as part of a permanent deal. Yet with United’s form faltering and a top-four finish not looking guaranteed, the decision to let him leave could be one that proves costly at the end of this campaign.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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