WHO: Donny van de Beek
FROM WHERE: Ajax
TO WHERE: Manchester United
FOR HOW MUCH: £39.5m ($52m)
GRADE FOR MAN UNITED: A
GRADE FOR AJAX: B
They’ve taken a good amount of time, but Manchester United have finally secured their first signing of a crucial summer transfer window by signing Ajax’s multi-talented midfielder, Donny van de Beek. The tenacious Dutchman is best remembered for starring in Ajax’s astonishing 2018/19 Champions League campaign, putting in memorable performances in the wins over Real Madrid & Juventus.
Van de Beek provides the much-needed quality in depth for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad and his versatility will allow him to bring more life into their midfield. Is he better than Bruno Fernades or Paul Pogba? That’s debatable. Is he an upgrade over the other midfielders at United? Definitely.
WHO IS HE?
A graduate from the world-famous Ajax academy, Van de Beek was at the Dutch club since he was 9 years old. He made his senior team debut in 2015 & has since made more than 150 appearances in competitions for Ajax. He’s won the Eredivisie with them, being Europa League runners-up & boasts plenty of UCL experience after progressing into the semi-finals in the 2018/19 season.
The 23-year-old has also 10 appearances for the Netherlands national team, meaning he already boasts decent amount of experience despite his young age.
IS THE PRICE FAIR?
In the current market, $52m is probably as good a valuation as around $75m in the pre-Covid transfer value. So let’s not try to mince anything, United have struck a great deal for Van de Beek. It’s not as much as the reported $100m+ Aston Villa asked for Jack Grealish, so it’s helped the club save a lot of money.
The 23-year-old is versatile, a hard-worker and will only get better into solidifying himself as an integral part of a much smoother attacking-line for the Red Devils over the years to come.
WHAT IMPACT SHOULD WE EXPECT?
Van de Beek can aptly summarized as the new wild card for United. He isn’t the most creative like Pogba nor perhaps as clutch as Fernandes. But, he has the sheer heart & resilience to go an extra mile, while also possessing the intelligence to run rings around defenders.
The 23-year-old is an ideal modern-day midfielder – mostly because of the fact that he can play virtually anywhere in midfield. A box-to-box attacking midfielder by trait, he can operate in the #6 role(bit deeper), as a bullish No.8 or even in a playmaking #10 role which Bruno currently is at the helm.
Moreover, the Dutchman can even operate as a false #9 because of his intelligent ability to beat his marker & get into areas not many other midfielders at United know how to. Indeed, Van de Beek is a bit of a sly fox, with his cunning ability to run between the lines, tendency to make shadow runs to open up areas for teammates and sweet striking ability making him an unpredictable threat.
The Red Devils often wasted creative opportunities last season because there was nobody with the willingness to drag away defenders with their off-the-ball movement. The Dutch midfielder will solve exactly that, with his clever running guaranteed to add an element of surprise to United’s attacking patterns.
Van de Beek’s versatility means he can slot into many roles for Solskjaer’s team next season. He probably isn’t a guaranteed entry into their strongest starting XI but has that something special to make an impact from the bench – something which none of United’s current bench-players seem to have. He can also be rotated with Pogba & Bruno, giving them ample amount of rest with an intense season ahead.
If Solskjaer needs to throw the kitchen sink in with an all-out-attack formation, he could even slot in with United’s two best midfielders into a trio! With his skillset, the 23-year-old is probably an apt replacement/upgrade over Ander Herrera – who left last year. He’s more prolific with his goal contributions, having scored 10 & set up 11 in all competitions last season.
Van de Beek is extremely active offensively, boasting 1.9 shots, 1.8 key passes & 1 dribble completed per 90 (stats via WhoScored). He also puts in his work in regaining possession, making 2 tackles per game last season as well! If he settles in well, VDB could be the perfect link between United’s defence and attack.
He can carry the ball forward, often move into wide areas to diversify attacking transitions and isn’t afraid of barging into the box to score clever goals. Not just Pogba/Bruno, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial & Mason Greenwood will love linking-up with him because of Van de Beek’s slick attacking style & general awareness helping him create stuff not many others can.
Man United (A)
For their first signing of the summer, Van de Beek is a very smart buy for United. He’s a major upgrade over the likes of Jesse Lingard or Andreas Pereira, while also being a determined individual guaranteed to keep Pogba/Bruno on their toes. The 23-year-old will only grow more influences in years to come & could soon become the focal point of the Red Devils’ exciting attacking style.
While they’ll be sad to see an influential player like him leave, Ajax aren’t really at a loss in this deal. They’re getting solid money for a youth academy graduate and knowing their amazing youth system, they’ll probably inherit Van de Beek’s readymade successor from within.