Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s perceived vendetta against a Manchester United player who has never “produced a proper performance” has been scrutinised, and the key to a January midfield splash has been revealed.
It is fair to say Donny Van de Beek’s tenure at Old Trafford has been nothing short of a disappointment. The Dutchman, 24, arrived from Ajax in 2020 and commanded a hefty £35m transfer fee. But since moving across the North Sea, the midfielder’s career has stalled.
Van de Beek has been afforded just six minutes of league action this term. Despite regular midfield pairing Fred and Scott McTominay coming in for frequent criticism, Van de Beek still can’t get a look in.
He had been linked with a loan switch to Everton over the summer, though a deal ultimately failed to materialise.
While recent reports suggested that move could be reignited in January, for the time being, Van de Beek must continue to make the most out of his limited appearances. That’s despite Paul Ince recently claiming Van de Beek has been “blatantly lied” to by his Norwegian boss.
And when taking part in a Q&A for the Manchester Evening News, senior United journalist, Samuel Luckhurst, responded to a question about Solskjaer’s perceived distrust of Van de Beek.
“I genuinely don’t think there is a personal issue,” said Luckhurst. “But he was a third-choice, at best. And the United hierarchy has made a point of saying Solskjaer would only settle for a second-choice target in a worst-case scenario. So his card was maybe marked from the start.
“When we watched him train in Gdansk during the practice match, he was sharp and vocal. But you hardly see that from him when he starts, which has been admittedly rare.
“When Van de Beek has started, he hasn’t produced a proper performance. He was decent at Southampton last year, but a disaster against Southampton the week after. West Ham in the cup was the nadir.”
One school of thought suggests the Red Devils are a world class midfielder short of launching a genuine title tilt. Monaco and France sensation Aurelien Tchouameni is one name recently linked with making a move.
But asked if a January transfer splash is likely, Luckhurst outlined why a major acquisition is riddled with difficulties.
“Only way” Man Utd sign a mid revealed
Luckhurst said: “The only way they would sign a midfielder mid-season is if one goes – and loaning one out still does not give them too much leverage to outright buy a midfielder.
“It would be a surprise if they identified a game-changing defensive midfielder midway through a season when Pogba is still unlikely to have (publicly) decided on his future, as well.
“As stated before, there are internal solutions to try. Be it McTominay as a holding midfielder or Van de Beek in a midfield three, rotating Matic more effectively etc.”