Speaking exclusively to CaughtOffside, former Manchester United ace Luke Chadwick has perfectly summed up the difficulties that Donny van de Beek is facing when it comes to playing time.
Van de Beek was signed for an initial fee of £35m from Ajax this summer, with the deal also including a further £5m in potential add-ons, as per BBC Sport.
The Dutchman has started just one meaningful game for the Red Devils though, with all respect to the two encounters in the Carabao Cup so far this season.
Chadwick, a fellow midfielder, has been impressed with the performances Van de Beek has turned in, including the bright display off the bench against Arsenal, but admits it remains difficult to see how the 23-year-old can ‘regularly’ feature alongside the team’s prime playmaker – Bruno Fernandes.
The Ajax academy graduate has been lift with a bit-part role effectively through no fault of his own, starting Van de Beek alongside Fernandes and even Paul Pogba would leave the side’s inconsistent and shaky defenders too exposed.
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Here’s what Chadwick had to say on Van de Beek’s role in the side:
“As suggested when he first signed, where does he fit into the team regularly?”
“Bruno Fernandes’ impact last season rightly made him the first name on the team sheet at the start of this season and with Donny playing a very similar position it was always going to be tough for him.”
“Bruno is the type of player that wants to play every minute of every game and rightly so, which in turn makes it very hard to leave him out.”
“It is still very early days in Donny’s United career and would be ridiculous to write him off as merely a squad player.”
“The question will be is there a way of getting these two extremely gifted players into a winning team together?”
Van de Beek’s limited role is largely due to Solskjaer shielding the side’s defensive frailties with a defensive-midfield pairing of Fred and Scott McTominay:
“The back four have certainly benefited from the extra protection offered from Fred and McTominay and the team in general looking a lot more solid defensively.”
Chadwick, who made 39 senior appearances for the Red Devils after five years on their books as a professional, was spot on with his assessment that it is ‘ridiculous’ to write off Van de Beek just yet.
Van de Beek has played more minutes in the two Carabao Cup ties than his seven outings so far in the Premier League and Champions League, but it’s clear that he’s making an impact in important ties.
The Netherlands international scored off the bench on his Premier League debut against Crystal Palace, won the corner leading to their controversial winner against Brighton and even saw a cross turned on to the post against Arsenal. He’s not letting the little minutes affect his ability to play a role.
Van de Beek replaced Fernandes in the 75th minute of the tie against the Gunners, but perhaps it’s time for Solskjaer to tinker with his selection to accommodate both in his starting lineups.
Whilst the Red Devils have looked a lot better on the defensive side recently, the defeat to Arsenal proved that this will come at the cost of much-needed chance creation in the final third.