It proved to be a largely disappointing debut season for Manchester United midfielder Donny Van de Beek following his big-money move from Ajax.
The 24-year-old struggled for consistent game time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but a change in position could further his progression and see him utilised a lot more regularly this term.
While the certainty around Paul Pogba’s immediate future is rather unclear, United remain in the market for a new defensive-minded midfielder.
United are admirers of West Ham’s Declan Rice and young Frenchman Eduardo Camavinga in the summer window but Van de Beek has previously shown why he can be the man to step up if they fail to bring in one of those targets.
Having often been deployed in a more advanced position in 2020/21, Van de Beek has previously shown that he has the capabilities to adapt to play anywhere across the midfield in United’s traditional 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, which suits the way they want to play.
His first United start was in the number 10 position, as he replaced Bruno Fernandes for the trip to Luton Town in the Carabao Cup but he has struggled to perform when used in that role.
During his final campaign with Ajax, the Netherlands international played 18 times in one of the deeper slots, contributing to seven goals and three assists in those matches, proving that he is able to produce if required to play there.
Arguably his best display in a United shirt came on the final day of the season at Wolves, where he started in a midfield two with Nemanja Matic. This allowed him to get into dangerous positions as he won a penalty and controlled the game, similarly to what Pogba does when he is involved.
If Pogba leaves, Van de Beek could be utilised on the left side a midfield three if United used that shape, and it’s a role he can play in, with that Wolves performance a standout.
With Rice set to cost more than United are willing to pay this summer, and Camavinga understood to favour a move to Spain, this could be the perfect opportunity for the Dutchman to impress Solskjaer and nail down a first-team spot ahead of their curtain-raiser against Leeds United on August 14.
Van de Beek could yet develop into a top Premier League midfielder and given time and a potential change in his usual United role we may see a massive change in fortunes for him this year.
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