Why Manchester United should make a move for Donny van de Beek
Manchester United confirmed the first transfer of the Solskjaer Era as promising Championship starlet Daniel James completed a dream move to the Theatre of Dreams. This move symbolizes a change in the transfer strategy as United shift to targeting young, motivated players with a huge potential rather than big money signings.
Such an approach has served United well in the past as polishing rough uncut diamonds and turning them into world beaters has resulted in sustained domination and countless titles. After the unsuccessful experiment of adopting a Galactico style approach in the post-Fergie period, this is a welcome and refreshing change in attitude that has reaped rewards over the years.
Among the myriad of players linked to United this summer, one name that has cropped up recently is Portuguese midfielder, Bruno Fernandes. The goal scoring midfielder has registered extraordinary numbers last season and gained prominence for his creative exploits and an incredible goal scoring record. This also means that his signing could cost a fortune in the current market. And, with other positions in need of dire attention and the tendency displayed by the board to not budge on transfer fees, a huge splash on Fernandes would deprive them of cash that could be wisely spent elsewhere.
In that situation, a cut-price option waits in the wings as rumors have surfaced that Ajax youngster van de Beek could be interested in a move to the Premier League.
If there remains a glimmer of a chance to bring Van de Beek to Manchester, in all fairness it would be foolish not to consider such a proposal. Scoring just 65 goals indicate to the struggles in attack as goals have been difficult to come by. Their defence was exposed as the ever-dependable De Gea suffered a dip in his form by his lofty standards adding more misery. Thus, United are in the market for a midfielder that can contribute with goals and assists thereby lowering the heavy burden on Paul Pogba’s shoulders, the creative fulcrum of the side.
The Dutch youngster could fit in perfectly in this new look Solskjaer side. Van de Beek is a versatile customer that can play in multiple positions in the midfield without hindering his impact on the game.
Ole experimented with different formations and systems, finding the perfect set up to fit best the qualities and strengths of his players while minimizing the weaknesses. Signing a player that has a great tactical acumen, having received his education in the famous Ajax academy and boasts tremendous versatility would appeal to the Norwegian.
Interestingly, even though many perceive de Beek as a No.6 or a No.8, his uncanny movement, positioning, and awareness enable him to find himself in the right position to make an important contribution to his team’s attacking play. He has a knack of finding the back of the net at decisive junctures in important games like those that he found against Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Such a big game pedigree indicts that he is unfazed by huge occasions and can make an impact when needed most.
Furthermore, Solskjaer is eager to implement a high pressing football style, featuring quick transitions and decisiveness on the counter. A brand of football like that requires good fitness, stamina, and endurance coupled with the willingness to put in a shift, keep chasing as a pack when not in possession and move the ball quickly to hurt the opposition. The youngster has grown up learning and absorbing such a philosophy and should be the best fit at United under a manager that is willing to adopt a similar brand of football.
Moreover, United do operate in a system that requires Rashford to stretch defences with his pace and directness with Paul Pogba’s ammunition behind him. The key link missing here is a player who is smart and cunning enough to exploit the space that Rashford vacates whenever he drifts wide or runs in behind.
Enter van de Beek. These are the sort of situations in which the Dutchman thrives as his acute sense of space, unpredictable and varied runs and an ability to find himself in a goal scoring position makes him a thorn in the side of the opposition. United desperately lack that spontaneity, unpredictability, and creative as well as tactical nous that van de Beek has made his name for.
Amidst the fanfare and excitement surrounding the high profile Ajax starlets like Matthijs De Ligt and Frenkie De Jong, van de Beek slipped under the radar but was equally important in their fantastic run in the Champions League. Similarly, in the competitive and inflated market, midfielders that can chip in with goals and assists regularly while putting in a shift defensively are worth their weight in gold.
The Dutchman brings that to the table but hasn’t garnered the same attention as his compatriots. Getting him on board could thus prove to be a shrewd piece of business and one that can vindicate their newly adopted transfer strategy.