Manchester United cannot afford to repeat their Donny van de Beek mistake this month – Tyrone Marshall


On the final day of the summer transfer window Donny van de Beek thought an avenue to regular first-team football was opening up for him.

A loan move to Everton was all but agreed, only for Manchester United to pull the plug when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer decided he wanted to keep the Dutchman in his squad.

That decision hasn’t exactly worked out well for Van de Beek. He scored the final goal of the Solskjaer era but hasn’t started a Premier League game all season and he feels so underused at the moment that you wouldn’t rule out Darren Fletcher started ahead of him.

Maybe the temporary move to Goodison Park was a fortunate escape as well for Van de Beek. He was wanted by Everton’s director of football Marcel Brands, his fellow countryman, but he had left the club by the start of December and it’s been a poisonous atmosphere in the blue half of Merseyside. That wouldn’t have been an ideal environment to restore form and fitness.

But Van de Beek has fared little better staying in Manchester. Solskjaer decided to keep him around at the end of August with the vow that he would help make the move work. That hasn’t happened and now Ralf Rangnick is showing little inclination to play the 24-year-old either.

The former Ajax midfielder has now started just two of United’s last 50 Premier League games, but both of those came when Solskjaer made wholesale changes in the largely irrelevant games against Leicester City and Wolves at the end of last season.

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There’s certainly an argument that two managers can’t be wrong in deciding Van de Beek isn’t for them, but there is an understandable reluctance to admit defeat on a £35million signing, especially someone who was so sought after when thriving for Ajax in their run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.

Rangnick’s decision to move to a 4-3-3 could yet suit Van de Beek, at least as a squad player, but any idea that he could get increased game time should be tempered by the return to fitness of Paul Pogba, who will undoubtedly be ahead of him in the interim manager’s thoughts.

Perhaps the key phrase there is interim manager. It remains extremely unlikely Rangnick will remain in post beyond this summer when United still intend to appoint a permanent boss. Mauricio Pochettino and Erik ten Hag have long been considered the frontrunners.

It’s entirely possible that whoever comes in will want to assess Van de Beek for themselves, especially Ten Hag who managed to get the best out of the midfielder for Ajax.

The best course of action, for now, might be for United to do what they so nearly did in the summer and allow Van de Beek to leave on loan. Any argument that he is integral to Rangnick’s plans is clearly superfluous, given he has featured in only eight of 22 Premier League games.

Seven of those eight substitute appearances came after the 80th minute and five of them came after the 86th minute. He is about as peripheral as it’s possible to get for a first-team midfielder at Old Trafford.

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But if a Premier League loan move is available for Van de Beek it would give him a run of games to prove he can shine in this league, either stating a case to the next manager at Old Trafford or driving up his value for a summer sale . Either way, it would be a positive for United.

Everton’s interest has faded and an approach from intermediaries to Newcastle came to nothing, but Crystal Palace are the latest club to be linked with a loan move.

United have made a significant saving on Anthony Martial’s wages through his loan move to Sevilla and they could yet bank some funds for Jesse Lingard, who is a loan target for Newcastle.

Departures for those two were always more likely than for Van de Beek, but it could make a lot of sense to let him go to a Premier League club for the rest of the season if the opportunity presents itself before Monday.


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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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