Donny Van De Beek’s transfer has rejuvenated the morale of Manchester United‘s fan. Many pundits are marking this as a sign of intent from the United board ahead of the 2020/21 Premier League season. But is Van De Beek the final key in United’s midfield puzzle? We have tactically looked up how he can settle in this Manchester United setup in the upcoming days.
A question that is in the mind of each and every United fan is how will Ole Gunner Solskjaer accommodate Van De Beek in the starting line up of Manchester United. Naturally, Van De Beek has mainly played into two roles, as a number 10 in the 4-2-3-1 set up or as a creative number 8 in the 4-3-3 formation. On the other hand, after De Jong‘s departure from the Ajax side, Van De Beek shifted to a midfielder in the double pivot of the 4-2-3-1. Thus Van De Beek is quite a versatile option in the midfield to possess. With Van De Beek in the team lineup, Ole can easily implement the “plan B” which he failed to implement the last season due to a lack of options in the midfield position.
In the case of 4-2-3-1, Ole can play Van De Beek in the two-man midfield pivot along with Paul Pogba. By playing him in the deeper regions, the progression of the ball from the defense with the help of Van de Beek can become a lot’s easy. With the technicality and passing range, Van De Beek can become the just the player who will maintain the dynamic nature of United’s midfield.
He can also play as the no.10 in the absence of Bruno Fernandes. In a season where fixture pile-up is unreal, Van De Beek is just the player Ole needs. With a player as prolific as Van De Beek, Ole can give Bruno some much-needed rest in some ties. With an excellent record as an attacking midfielder, Van De Beek gives Ole an option to rely on in situations where Bruno’s brilliance is neutralized by the opponent’s defense.
Van De Beek’s record is nothing short of incredible in the attacking section. With a tally of 28 goals and 21 assists in 91 Dutch League appearances over the last 3 seasons. His xG record of 0.30 and xA record of 0.23 proves that he is a player to watch out for in the offensive transition. He may not be an excellent passer like De Bruyne but his technicality and positioning makes up for that. His ability to find small pockets of space in the tightest of areas makes him a dangerous guy.
His shot on target per match of 0.71 signifies him of being a clinical shooter though he has as much as only 0.94 shots per match which proves that his accuracy is staggering. His ability to finding the space makes it easier for him to take an accurate shot. His ability to quickly pass the ball in a single touch will help the United cause as the Red Devils looked lackluster against teams who play with a low block against them. With quick between the line passing from Van De Beek it might become easier to break the seal of a low block.
In the image, we can see how Van De Beek finds a small pocket of space in a box crowded by Chelsea defenders. This is an example of his skill in finding out space in the tightest of areas.
With his ability to utilize the half-spaces and finding the teammates in an advantageous position, things might get interesting in a team boasting of players like Martial, Rashford, and Daniel James all of them being the quick and good controller of the ball with a keen sense of positioning.
Defensive Output: A Quality often Overlooked
Van De Beek’s overall defensive quality is underrated to be precise, his stats of 3.3 ball recoveries per 90,2.7 tackles per match gives testament of his defensive stability. His ability to resist the pressure makes United’s plan of playing out from the back a whole lot easier. His 4.3 duels won per game just proves his solidity and physical strength to compete vigorously for the ball.
In this image, we can see him not shying away from dropping deep and rescue the ball from the clutches of opposition and begin the transition with his ball progression upfront. This is one of his greatest traits.
It is safe to say in a team like Manchester United, he can easily slot in the double pivot alongside a dynamic Paul Pogba and his defensive skills will also ensure that the defensive duties are not neglected. His ball progression skills will also come handy for Ole’s boys.
Weakness: The Woes that may Hinder
But with all the possibility there is also a fair share to worry. Coming and settling into a new country and a new league that too as physical and fast like Premier League takes time. So Van De Beek should be given his time to settle down. In Ajax, he has habituated to play in a team where the wingers and fullbacks stretch their opponents, as a result, a lot of space being created in the midfield where he operated with his majestic presence.
But in the United, things are a bit different. United’s wingers are more like inside forwards and also Wan Bissaka being more of a defensive full-back it might prove tough for United to stretch their opposition out. As a result, Van De Beek may not get the space he used to get in Ajax. Getting a fair share of game time looks tough for Van De Beek. With a settled line up he must have to fight for his place in the team. Failure can bring in more time on the bench. United are not in their best so constant pressure and scrutiny will also be upon him. It will be interesting to see how he copes with the pressure.
Signing Van De Beek amid interest from Barcelona and other top clubs is surely a coup from United’s point of view. This surely shows their intent but the bridge may still prove too long to close with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. The signing of Van De Beek is a nice start but more signings are needed at Old Trafford. But as for Van De Beek, it surely looks a good signing. Now time will tell how he will fare at the Red half of Manchester. It will be an interesting journey indeed.
Can Van De Beek be the final key in United’s Midfield Puzzle? Please let us know in the comment section below.