Transfer Talk: Ajax linked with Van de Beek reunion
Donny van de Beek's troubled time at Manchester United could well be drawing to a close.
Reports claim the Dutchman is set to return to his former club Ajax, who the Red Devils signed the midfielder from back in 2020.
Now in his third season at Old Trafford — briefly interrupted by a loan spell at Everton — the 25-year-old has failed to establish himself under first Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and latterly, his former boss in Amsterdam, Erik ten Hag.
Ahead of United's clash with the Toffees on Saturday, which Van de Beek will miss having picked up a season-ending knee injury, we examine his struggles at the club and the possibility of an Eredivisie return.
Van de Beek's success in the early part of his career at Ajax persuaded Old Trafford chiefs to pay £35million in August 2020, with a potential £5m extra in add-ons.
It is safe to assume that United have at least been spared the expense of those add-ons. The transfer has been something of a disaster.
Van de Beek only started four Premier League games in his first season. There were plenty of starts in the cups, but he faced tough competition in the shape of the in-form Bruno Fernandes.
As unsuccessful as that debut campaign was, it has proved to be the high point in terms of number of appearances for the club.
In 2021-22, the Netherlands international played 14 times, before being loaned to Everton in the January window. He would only appear seven times for the Merseysiders.
There was the promise of a fresh start when he was reunited with Ten Hag. Instead, opportunities remained hard to come by. In his 10th game this term, Van de Beek picked up a knee injury that ended his campaign.
Van de Beek may well have played his last game for United, with a summer move to his boyhood side now likely.
He made his breakthrough in the Ajax team in the 2016-17 campaign and appeared as a substitute when the Dutch giants were beaten by the Red Devils in that season's Europa League final.
In 2018-19, he made a big impression in the club's Champions League run. Among his 17 goals were efforts against Juventus in the quarter-finals and then Tottenham in the semis.
By then rated as one of Europe's hottest properties, Van de Beek had one more season at Ajax, before making his big-money move to England in 2020.
Three years later, a return is being mooted. With his contract set to expire in 2025, this would be the time for United to sell, should they want to recoup some of that £35m transfer fee.
With Euro 2024 on the horizon, a summer move for Van de Beek would give him the opportunity to get back to playing regular football and reignite his international career.
He has won 19 caps for the Oranje, with the last of those appearances coming back in March 2021. If Van de Beek needs a positive example, then Davy Klaassen is surely the perfect case study.
Klaassen’s ill-fated move to Everton in 2017 saw him in the international wilderness for a couple of years, before eventually moving back to Ajax in 2020 and re-establishing himself with the national team.
Van de Beek is young enough to get his career back on track. A return to Ajax, a club that he played for as a boy, would seem the perfect environment to rediscover his mojo.