In two short years, Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek has transitioned from being ‘good enough’ for Real Madrid, to a player without a who single Premier League start all season.
It is a dramatic fall from grace, for the Dutchman who dazzled as part of Erik Ten Hagg’s Ajax side, who danced their way into the Champions League semi-final in 2019.
While the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Frenkie de Jong, and Matthijs de Ligt have all impressed at Chelsea, Barcelona, and Juventus respectively, van de Beek’s hopes of regular football appear to be mounted in a potential loan move to Crystal Palace.
Patrick Vieira’s side are r eportedly interested in loaning the 24-year-old Dutchman for the rest of the season, while Spanish giants Sevilla is also believed to be interested in the midfielder.
But nobody, perhaps van de Beek most of all, would have envisaged a scenario as chastening and disappointing when he first made the move to Old Trafford – where has it all gone so wrong?
HAVE YOUR SAY! Can Donny van de Beek revive his Manchester United career, or should he be sold? Comment below
Before his move to Old Trafford, his former team mate Frenkie de Jong stated he is “good enough for Real Madrid” when the Spanish giants were linked with a move for him.
“I am pretty sure he has the ability. I think he showed it last season in the Champions League, especially in the knockout rounds,” de Jong said to ESPN FC.
“I think he has shown to the world and everyone in Europe he has the ability to play at that level.”
Despite his excellent displays and bustling reputation in Europe, confusion was the primary emotion when United beat Los Blancos to his signature in a deal worth £35million move.
“It’s interesting, something’s happened – the Van de Beek signing’s an interesting one – I still can’t get my head around it,” Neville told Sky Sports, three, months into Van de Beek’s United career.
“It’s almost as if that signing was sort of done in anticipation of one of the others leaving because Van de Beek has just sat on the bench for the last few months and he cost £40m. I think that Manchester United are preparing for someone leaving.
“Nemanja Matic might be finishing at the end of next season, maybe, maybe Pogba could leave.”
Despite the fact he was competing with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Pogba, Matic, Fred, and Scott McTominay, van de Beek started well by scoring on his Manchester United debut against Crystal Palace.
His reward for his debut goal? A solitary minute of action in United’s proceeding 3-2 away victory against Brighton and Hove Albion.
His first start came in United’s tenth league match of the season, and the Dutchman impressed by playing the full 90 minutes in a 3-2 win away to Southampton.
He was deployed in the starting eleven the following match against West Ham, but he was hooked at half-time by Solskjaer – he only played 29 minutes over the course of ten League matches.
Despite Jesse Lingard returning to the club, and the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho arriving in the summer, van de Beek was coy about his chances off starting at United.
“Donny is happy with the fact the club has so much trust in him,” van de Beek’s agent Guido Albers told talkSPORT in September.
“But last season was really painful because he didn’t play much. He was ready for this. It’s about choices and timing, you have to accept. He signed a six year contract, but he wants to play.
“In the last few weeks he showed he is ready for the new season and he showed what the club likes to see. So we will see in the next few months whether the club will use him or not.
“He will succeed.”
Unfortunately the image of van de Beek throwing his chewing gum and sinking into his chair in sadness, when Solskjaer deployed his final substitution in a Champions League match against Villarreal, is the image which sums up his season.
Before Solskjaer was sacked, he only played 61 minutes of Premier League football in the first 12 matches of this campaign – the fact that his goal in the humiliating 4-1 away defeat to Watford was the final goal of Solskjaer’s United tenure was a significant moment of irony.
Unfortunately, Solskjaer’s dismissal did not open a floodgate of opportunities for van de Beek to prove him wrong, despite the fact Pogba was side-lined by injury before the Norwegian was shown the door.
Ralf Rangnick has been even more hesitant to use him, only deploying him for seven Premier League minutes in his first eight league matches in charge.
Van de Beek’s attitude was once described as ‘exemplary’ by sources at United, yet a route into the first team is yet to be carved.
Palace could be the next destination for him, but United are supposedly hesitant to part with a player who could be a good back-up option this season.
Selhurst Park may not be the Bernabeu, Old Trafford, or the Johan Cruyff Arena, but if Vieira’s side can convince United to part with a player who has barely features, it could very well be the location Van de Beek can jumpstart his career.