Barcelona have learned that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer would be unlikely to sanction the exit of a Manchester United misfit on their radar in January.
Both Barcelona and Manchester United still have areas of their squad to tweak in the January transfer window. Finances are still tight for the former, but they hope to make space for some new arrivals. In the process, the struggles of one man at Old Trafford could push him in their direction.
Donny van de Beek is the man in question, after failing to make an impact since his 2020 transfer to Man Utd. He came off the bench to score on his Premier League debut, but has shown little excitement since.
The Dutchman prefers to play as an attacking midfielder and is therefore struggling to get past Paul Pogba or Bruno Fernandes in Solskjaer’s hierarchy. He has been restricted to just five minutes of Premier League action so far this season.
Even so, United blocked his departure in the summer, when Everton were trying to sign him. Interest from the Toffees may remain, but Barcelona have also been backed to offer him a solution.
A move to Camp Nou would reunite him with former Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman. After Barca’s mixed start to the season, Koeman’s position as coach is still unclear, but it seems Joan Laporta is keeping faith in him. Therefore, they could look to accommodate a new signing to provide a boost.
Van de Beek would be high on Koeman’s wishlist in that regard. However, his chances of prising him away from Manchester are surprisingly slim.
ESPN have reported that Solskjaer is reluctant to let many of his fringe players leave in January. He was conscious of overusing players towards the end of last season and wants a deep squad to avoid a repeat scenario.
With that in mind, van de Beek may be forced to stick around even if his situation does not improve. Even so, Solskjaer knows the 24-year-old could push for an exit.
He may be more likely to grant him his wish next summer after reassessing the situation. But for now, both Barcelona and van de Beek will have to wait.
It could even put his chances of ever moving to Barca in doubt. Koeman is out of contract at the end of the season, so unless their form improves, may not be the manager in Catalonia next year.
Only time will tell what options will remain available to van de Beek by the time Solskjaer may be more willing to consider his departure.
It seems obvious that United may not be the best place for him, though, after his lack of action at club level consequently led to his omission from recent Netherlands squads.
Van de Beek one of four options for Barca
As long as Koeman is in charge, Barcelona will retain some hope of concluding a deal for van de Beek.
Midfield is a key area that the struggling former Everton boss wants to strengthen. In the summer, his top target was another Dutchman, ex-Liverpool man Georginio Wijnaldum.
However, Paris Saint-Germain hijacked the deal and now Barcelona are looking elsewhere.
According to Diario Sport, which is based in Catalonia, van de Beek is one of four options under consideration, despite having a different kind of profile to their other targets.
There is another Premier League player on their wishlist in the shape of Tanguy Ndombele. He looks likely to leave Tottenham Hotspur after falling out of favour under Nuno Espirito Santo.
Ndombele could have departed in the summer, but no buyer could be found. Other suitors are queuing up again now, though, so he could be an idea for Barca in January.
Alternatively, they could look to either side of the Milan divide. They are interested in AC Milan’s Franck Kessie and Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic.
Kessie is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a few Premier League clubs. It is a similar situation for Brozovic, whose terms expire in 2022 as well.
Therefore, with other ideas on their mind, van de Beek may miss out on his Barcelona transfer if the La Liga giants look elsewhere.