Manchester United want Ajax starlet Donny Van de Beek to replace Paul Pogba if he quits Old Trafford… so how would the man who is being chased by Europe’s elite galvanise Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s midfield?
- Manchester United have been linked with another exciting midfield prospect
- Bruno Fernandes hit the ground running following arrival from Sporting Lisbon
- Ajax’s Donny Van de Beek has attracted interest from host of top sides in Europe
- Sportsmail looks at the Dutchman and assesses where he would fit in at United
Manchester United’s latest midfield acquisition has been an instant success.
Portuguese Bruno Fernandes hit the ground running following his arrival from Sporting Lisbon and United have been linked with another exciting prospect.
Ajax’s Donny Van de Beek has attracted interest from a host of top sides in Europe with United keen on the 23-year-old, according to Mundo Deportivo.
Here, Sportsmail looks at the Dutch international and assesses where he would fit in at Old Trafford should they win the race for this signature.
Manchester United have been linked with exciting midfield prospect in Donny Van de Beek
RISE TO THE TOP
Van de Beek was brought up on a farm in Nijkerkerveen, Holland, and it was his father Andre that introduced him to the game by taking him along to Veensche Boys.
‘After the first training session, he was completely sold and the ball never disappeared from his life,’ Andre told AjaxShowtime in 2016.
Utrecht, Feyenoord and PSV were all after Van de Beek at the mere age of 10 but his family were season-ticket holders at Ajax and so, understandably, that was the path he took.
Old Ajax youth coach Ruben Jongkind revealed the work behind his development, he said: ‘We put him under a system of pretty rigorous physical training. He needed that. He came from farmers.
‘That area of Holland is pretty strong farmers there. But he needed to transfer that to the field.
‘He was benefiting from the performance department a lot. We got in people from American Football and from Judo.’
Van de Beek starred in the Ajax youth ranks and his career has been on an upward trajectory
Van de Beek starred in the Ajax youth ranks and made his debut for the first team five years ago against Celtic in the Europa League and his career has been on an upward trajectory ever since.
He was a standout performer alongside the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech as Ajax reached the Champions League semi-finals last year.
Those three players have already agreed moves on to other clubs and Van de Beek could be next.
At still a relatively young age Van de Beek has got the lot. A box-to-box central midfielder who can score goals, provide assists and is not afraid to do the dirty work.
He has notched 41 goals and supplied 34 assists in 175 appearances for the Ajax senior team.
Van de Beek has got the knack of timing his run from midfield to get onto the end through balls like Chelsea legend Frank Lampard used to do.
A box-to-box central midfielder who scores, provides assists and is not afraid get stuck in
He is versatile with the ability and skill to play as a No 6, No 8 or No 10. In fact, the talented midfielder was tipped as the next Dennis Bergkamp by the man himself aged just 10 years old.
When Frank de Boer became Ajax boss in 2010, Bergkamp, promoted to his assistant, almost immediately told him about Van de Beek: ‘Dennis started talking enthusiastically about a talent in his youth team.
‘It was a boy who reminded Dennis of himself at that age. That was the signal for me to keep an eye on that guy. That was Donny.’
WHERE WILL HE FIT IN AT UNITED?
United already have a plethora of options in the middle of the park with the likes of Fernandes, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Fred and Paul Pogba.
A move for Van De Beek would suggest one of them could be departing.
Pogba has been heavily linked with a move away from the Red Devils with Juventus, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Paris Saint-Germain all showing an interest.
Last summer the World Cup winner said it may well be time to leave the club for a ‘new challenge’.
The Ajax midfielder could be Paul Pogba’s replacement at Old Trafford if the Frenchman leaves
Pogba’s exit therefore appears to be the likeliest route for Van de Beek to make the move to the Premier League giants.
The Dutchman would likely fit in alongside Fred or Scott McTominay as the two centre midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Fernandes operating as the No 10.
But with Van de Beek’s ability to play anywhere in midfield, he would give United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the freedom to rotate his side and change systems.
Solskjaer is continuing to rebuild at Old Trafford but players like Van de Beek would give him the needed strength in depth to start challenging rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.
How United could line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Van de Beek behind Bruno Fernandes
WHO ELSE IS INTERESTED?
Van de Beek’s current deal at Ajax does not expire until the summer of 2022.
LaLiga giants Real Madrid have been heavily linked with a summer switch for the highly-rated midfielder.
But Van de Beek’s agent revealed earlier this month that the coronavirus crisis could ruin the midfielder’s dream £47milllion Real Madrid move as clubs struggle financially in wake of coronavirus shutdown.
The player himself left the door open for a move to United as he insisted a deal to join Madrid is not done and he ‘hasn’t said yes to anyone’.
Juventus are also reportedly in the running to sign Van de Beek, which would see him reunite with former Ajax team-mate De Ligt.
Van de Beek he would give United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the freedom to rotate his side
WHAT’S BEEN SAID…
Van de Beek has earned 10 caps for Holland since making his senior international debut back in 2017.
‘The development of Van de Beek does cause a luxury problem, but I think that is wonderful,’ Dutch boss Ronald Koeman said last year.
‘The success in Europe has proved to be great for the development of Ajax players.
‘Many players have grown and Van de Beek is the best example of this. He is knocking even more on the door than he already did.’
Van de Beek could well be following Fernandes through the door at Old Trafford.
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