Transfer Talk: Ten Hag appointment can bring Donny back from the dark

Tom Hancock
LiveScore
02/05/202208:00
Donny van de Beek and incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag previously worked together at Ajax
Donny van de Beek and incoming Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag previously worked together at Ajax

Donny van de Beek's time at Manchester United has been underwhelming to say the least.

But with his former boss Erik ten Hag set to take the reins at Old Trafford this summer, the midfielder — currently on loan at Everton — could be about to enjoy a Red Devils revival.

As United prepare to take on Brentford tonight, we consider what the future holds for their forgotten man.

Frozen out

At first glance, it might be hard to believe that Van de Beek has made 50 appearances across all competitions for Manchester United — but when you consider that 31 of those have come from the bench, it becomes a whole lot easier to understand.

He was effectively frozen out from the beginning at Old Trafford, playing just under 600 Premier League minutes from his arrival in September 2020 to joining the Toffees in January this year.

Signed for £35million from Ajax, Van de Beek is going to go down as an expensive flop unless something markedly changes next season.

Donny van de Beek will hope that a change of manager could improve his fortunes at Manchester United next term
Donny van de Beek will hope that a change of manager could improve his fortunes at Manchester United next term

Sticky Toffee situation

Desperate for regular minutes, it was no surprise to see Van de Beek take the opportunity to go out on loan.

But, with hindsight, a move to a side battling relegation — who had just appointed a new manager with questionable top-flight credentials — may have proved ill-judged given the circumstances.

Van de Beek's work rate cannot be doubted. But in their current state, the Blues are hardly the ideal team for him to really express himself — especially with the stifling approach they took to the recent Merseyside derby loss at Anfield potentially being their best chance of survival.

Everton have used Donny van de Beek in a more advanced role during his loan spell at Goodison Park
Everton have used Donny van de Beek in a more advanced role during his loan spell at Goodison Park

Reunited at United

Van de Beek was an integral member of the great Ajax team which reached the 2018-19 Champions League semi-finals under Ten Hag.

And his former boss has been left vexed by the Netherlands international's extremely limited involvement at Old Trafford.

Speaking back in December, he said: "Donny, I find that hard. [It's a] mortal sin.

"If you haven't had a chance yet, then development will also stall. Every now and then you encourage them."

Having turned 25 last month, Van de Beek cannot afford for his development to stagnate any longer.

Ten Hag the hero?

Van de Beek will hope his former coach can get his United career properly up and running next season.

The flexible 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 hybrid system Ten Hag favours could work to the advantage of the 19-cap international, who is a highly versatile midfielder capable of operating in multiple roles.

With the Red Devils likely to be priced out of an approach for rumoured top midfield target Declan Rice, their new boss might just decide to stick with what he has got for the immediate future.

The picture should become clearer in a few months' time — but Van de Beek could finally be about to truly start his Old Trafford career, two years after his arrival.

Erik ten Hag will be looking to maximise Donny van de Beek's impressive passing ability when he arrives at Old Trafford
Erik ten Hag will be looking to maximise Donny van de Beek's impressive passing ability when he arrives at Old Trafford

On the move?

With another three years remaining on his United contract, it will take a significant bid from any interested club to secure Van de Beek's services.

But that may not stop him deciding he wants to leave Manchester, if he does not receive some assurances regarding anticipated playing time.

The World Cup is coming up in November and Van de Beek will want to be on the plane to Qatar.

That is bound to be a key factor in any decision he makes this summer — and United would hardly be on strong ground when it comes to standing in his way.

Tags

Premier LeagueManchester UnitedAjaxEredivisie

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