You have to spare a thought for Donny van de Beek and many Manchester United supporters certainly do.
It speaks volumes for the Dutchman and his character that, as he continued to be ignored by three managers, the Old Trafford faithful built-up such an affinity for a player who has only started four games in the Premier League 17 months on from his £ 40 million switches.
And that unbreakable bond has not arisen simply from pity.
Cult heroes are often supremely gifted, inconsistent or their personalities resonate with match-goers.
In several cases, they are a lovely combination of all three of those traits.
When it comes to van de Beek, the reality is that nobody knows whether or not he could have been a solution for that glaring problem in the engine room. Promised so much more than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – or even Ralf Rangnick – have provided him, the Ajax graduate remains a curious case of what might have been.
He is not a cult hero in the truest sense, nor is he a transfer flop.
Ultimately, his relationship with United supporters – which has been highlighted by well-wishes and eagerness to follow his early progress at Everton – stems from how the midfielder has conducted himself.
No moaning, no complaining. Amid his bizarre treatment of him, Van de Beek pulled his socks up and got on with it.
Then when Saturday came, the Netherlands international took a front row seat and watched countless below-par displays unfold in front of his very eyes. They were the same events those dedicated supporters who continued to clamor for him were observing. Collectively they were powerless to help.
Although it comes with question marks, there is mitigation for his lack of game-time during that first season.
Bruno Fernandes was still riding the crest of a wave and Paul Pogba – whatever your stance on him – was a United player for the foreseeable after the prospect of him moving before the 2020/21 campaign was curtailed due to the devastating financial implications brought about by Covid-19.
As for last summer, those in pursuit knew they were 12 months away from landing him for nothing.
United are braced to lose Pogba on a free for a second time – a decade on from his transfer to Juventus – but while he showcased his vast ability in flashes against Middlesbrough and Burnley, the club are only putting the World Cup winner front and center in their shop window.
These are precious opportunities that ought to be going to Van de Beek.
Instead, the Dutchman will spend the rest of this season on loan at Everton.
Before he rubber-stamped that deadline day switch, the noise from inner United circles was that Rangnick wanted to keep Van de Beek at Old Trafford. Had that been with a view to more regular minutes as a starter looking beyond this campaign, though, United would have cast aside Pogba and given them him, right now, at his expense.
Does van de Beek have a future at United? Have your say in the comments section below.
Barring a late U-turn, the Frenchman already has one foot out of the door.
As for Van de Beek, the decision made on his temporary future could prove quite telling in what they are planning for him long-term – and he deserves so, so much better.
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