Donny van de Beek’s Manchester United future has seemingly been all over the place since he signed for the club but he might turn a corner under Ralf Rangnick.
The interim manager has confirmed Van de Beek will start against Young Boys on Wednesday, kicking-off what could be a pivotal stretch of his Old Trafford career.
When United decided to pay Ajax £40million in summer last year, the consensus was that the Reds had pulled off a transfer coup.
Van de Beek came with a solid pedigree. He was part of the brilliant 2018/19 Ajax side that reached the Champions League semi-finals, along with winning the Eredivisie and KNVB Cup double.
He was a vital midfield cog in Erik ten Hag’s team, comfortable as a number 10, a number eight or in a double pivot with Frenkie de Jong.
The season before he joined United, despite De Jong’s departure to Barcelona, he was superb again – scoring 10 goals and claiming 11 assists times in 37 games across all competitions.
Of course, it has been a very different story for the Dutchman in Manchester. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rarely trusted him with anything other than a bench role, much to the frustration of fans towards the end of his reign.
It seemed that no one, not least Solskjaer, really knew his best position as United were unable to find a successful formula in terms of midfield balance. The unsatisfactory conclusion, as far as Van de Beek was concerned, was that he predominantly served as back-up to Bruno Fernandes.
In Solskjaer’s systems, either a 4-2-3-1 or 5-3-2, Fernandes was used as the sole attacking midfielder and Van de Beek wasn’t trusted enough to play frequently in a double pivot due to Fred and Scott McTominay being more defensively robust.
Van de Beek hardly got any game time under Solskjaer (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) The sight of United passing sideways and very slowly left supporters bemused as to why Van de Beek wasn’t playing, given his aptitude in the transitions and with quick one-twos.
But with Rangnick at the wheel, Van de Beek’s fortunes could turn.
In his first match, Rangnick used a 4-2-2-2 system, playing with two number 10’s behind the forwards and in front of the holding midfield two. It is a setup he has used frequently throughout his coaching career
Fernandes and Jadon Sancho were 10s against Crystal Palace, but it allows United to be flexible because there are so many players in the squad who can fulfil those briefs.
Van de Beek is unquestionably one of them and it could soon feel like United have a brand new player without having to dip into the transfer market.
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You could even see Fernandes and Van de Beek playing together, instead of one over the other, which is what some fans have been crying out for.
United would be much better in possession and I’m certain the forward line will be spoilt with chances.
It’s why I don’t think Van de Beek is leaving anytime soon, because he’ll know he can do a good job for his new coach.
Certainly, I’m excited to see what Rangnick can do with him.
Can Van de Beek turn a corner under Rangnick? Follow our United On My Mind writer Omar Garrick on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts on the matter in the comments section below.