Jermaine Jenas believes Donny van de Beek needs to leave Manchester United to become a “special player” again rather than a “side dish”.
Things have not gone to plan for Van de Beek since he joined United from Ajax in the summer.
There were early signs of promise when he came on from the bench to score on his Premier League debut. However, he has since only started two games in the competition and is yet to contribute to any more goals.
Competing with Bruno Fernandes for a place is a tough ask. It has left Van de Beek short of gametime.
There were reports of United receiving offers to take the 23-year-old on loan in January. However, they did not want to let him go.
But several pundits have suggested he may have to leave Old Trafford. Now, former England midfielder Jenas has joined those calling for the Dutchman to find a better solution.
Jenas told The Mirror: “It’s a tough one, because it was a strange move in the first place for Donny to go there.
“It is very similar to the issue Tottenham have with finding a replacement for Harry Kane, which is why they’ve never found anyone of close quality.
“People know they’re not going to play. The only way you get the best out of any player is you fill them with confidence – especially players like him – by playing them every week, making them feel part of the project and showing that they’re not just the side dish.
“When he was at Ajax I saw a player that was a problem for teams, arriving late in the box, scoring goals. At the minute he just plays safe and because of the position he plays he’s always being compared to another player – their best player.
“We can take this back as far as you want – could you imagine if there was a foil to Cantona or Beckham – it just doesn’t happen. It’s kind of one position, it’s not as if he’s part of the two in midfield where they can mix it up.
“Unfortunately the only way I see him getting back to a confident state and playing again is to move. He needs to be the special player.”
Still hope for Van de Beek?
While some pundits are expecting a summer exit for Van de Beek, Gary Neville recently told us that he thinks the midfielder may have been brought in at Old Trafford with next season in mind.
Paul Pogba could leave the club at the end of the season, which may free up a space for Van de Beek to move into.
Neville said: “It’s interesting, something’s happened – the Van de Beek signing’s an interesting one – I still can’t get my head around it.
“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. Maybe Pogba could leave, so they’ve already got Van de Beek in to maybe assume that role.”