Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has moved to reassure Donny Van De Beek he is much loved and appreciated by Manchester United despite his lack of opportunities to date.
The Old Trafford giants swooped to sign the highly-rated 23-year-old from Ajax for an initial £34.1m. but things have not gone as smoothly as the Holland international had expected.
While Van De Beek has made 20 appearances in all competitions, the majority have come from the bench. Indeed, the midfielder has so far only made two Premier League starts.
As such, Ronald de Boer has urged the 23-year-old to consider leaving this month. Van de Beek’s fellow Dutchman insisted that his compatriot should think about his role in next summer’s European Championships.
There’s also been claims that Van de Beek is refusing to speak to the media, so upset he is by his United struggles.
The summer arrival though will make his ninth start in all competitions against Watford in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
And in a bid to quell transfer rumours, Solskjaer has insisted the midfielder remains happy at United.
“I’ve answered this question so many times,” Solskjaer said. “There’s so many examples of players needing a little bit of time, quality players.
“We have many examples ourselves and there are other clubs with examples. Sometimes it takes time.
“You don’t expect people who care for him to be quiet at times, especially when they want the best for them.
“Donny is going to play on Saturday. That’s another chance for him and, yes, I’ve spoken to him and reiterated and made him aware of how much we rate him.
“But he’ll play tomorrow and that’s a good chance again to kick on.”
There is growing talk about the future of other players on the periphery too. Indeed, Brandon Williams has been linked with a temporary move away, with Newcastle and Everton leading the chase.
Having been restricted to just five appearances following an impressive breakthrough season, Solskjaer is sympathetic.
“With the signing of Alex Telles and the form of Luke Shaw, he’s not really had a look in at left-back this season,” Solskjaer said of the 20-year-old academy graduate.
“I think he played in all three semis – Europa League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup – and he had a great first season.
“This season’s been more difficult for him. I think he’s put his head down, worked really hard lately.
“He will be involved tomorrow. He’s in the squad and he’s shown me that he’s got the desire to fight through this.
“That’s the biggest thing. You know when you find your first big contract, you do well, can you bounce back after not being in the team as much?
“Brandon has showed that lately, so hopefully he’ll just keep carrying on as he does. He knows my view on it, he knows my view on him and we believe in the boy.”
Williams signed a deal until 2024 with the option of a further year last August.
Fosu-Mensah heading for United exit
One man who does seem certain to leave is fellow full-back Timothy Fosu-Mensah. The Dutchman is wanted by clubs in France and Germany and is approaching the final few months of his contract.
“I’m not sure if Tim is going to stay or if he’s going to take an option now,” Solskjaer said.
“He’s not played enough, so of course he’s been allowed to speak to clubs with a view to leaving now in January.
“It’s difficult when you’ve got good players, talented players, and you can’t give them game time. He’s now at the stage where he needs to go and play again.
“It might be end of January or it might be in the summer that he finds somewhere else.
“He’s working hard, Tim, so he’s ready for a move for any club that he feels ready for.”
Solskjaer has been leaning on a trusted group of defenders but their struggles dealing with set-pieces again flared up in costly fashion in Wednesday’s 2-0 Carabao Cup semi-final loss to Manchester City.
“It’s something that we have addressed that we need to be better at,” Solskjaer said. “When we don’t get the first contact we have been punished quite severely – and more often than anyone else.
“Because we’re quite good at the first contact, defending the ball, but when we haven’t we have conceded too many goals.
“I think we’re very high up there in the stats of when we don’t get the first contact we concede.
“That’s a worry, of course. It’s a worry when you concede goals but we have defended really well at times.”