Man United’s Donny van de Beek tweet sums up his miserable time at Old Trafford

Donny van de Beek made his 50th appearance for Manchester United this weekend. We know this because the club’s Twitter account celebrated the 24-year-old’s milestone, albeit as an 89th-minute substitute as Ralf Rangnick’s side desperately tried to hold on to a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa, having led 2-0 until in the 77th minute.

What United’s tweet didn’t tell us is that the club have played 89 games in all competitions since Van de Beek arrived at Old Trafford in a deal worth an initial £35m from Ajax in August 2020, and the Netherlands international has just started. 19 of them.

In total, Van de Beek played 90 minutes nine times for United. This season, his eight Premier League appearances have totaled 68 minutes on the pitch, while three of his last five league appearances have been one-minute appearances from the bench, which only serves to explain why he is gave the cruel nickname “Donny”. van de Bench” among the fans.

His 18 months at United were a story of bewilderment, and fans have now started chanting his name during games, almost out of sympathy for a player who arguably didn’t even have the chance to fail at Old Trafford. not to mention succeed. Playing 50 games for Manchester United would be the dream of many players, but when you break down the numbers – 1,836 minutes in total at an average of 36.7 minutes per appearance – it’s hard to turn that into something positive.

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Despite this, the club’s Twitter account chose to highlight the fact that Van de Beek has reached his half-century of appearances. The damning responses to the tweet made it pretty clear that it was more embarrassing for United and Van de Beek that it took so long for the club’s big signing of the 2020 transfer window to reach such a fundamental milestone.

So how did we get here? Van de Beek was a star player in Ajax’s run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019 when they were knocked out by Tottenham, and his performances sparked interest from Real Madrid, Tottenham and United before finally moving to Old Trafford 12 months later. But since signing for United he has been so consistently overlooked – first by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and now by caretaker manager Rangnick – that it’s surprising he’s still at the club and couldn’t get away with it. escape to revive his career. somewhere else.

Sources have told ESPN that Everton were keen to sign the midfielder last summer when then-Goodison Park football director Marcel Brands agreed a deal to bring him to the club. But, after telling Van de Beek and his representatives he could leave, then-United manager Solskjaer made a late U-turn and insisted he wanted to keep him at Old Trafford.

Van de Beek was encouraged at the end of last season that he would have the chance to succeed at United, with sources saying he was told many players struggled in their first season in English football and that, if he worked on his physique and fitness, he could thrive in the Premier League. He took that advice and built himself up physically, but Solskjaer continued to neglect him and only used him as a substitute three times in the Premier League this season before losing his job after a 4-1 defeat at Watford in November – coincidently. , a game in which Van de Beek scored United’s only goal.

But although Van de Beek’s playing stats show he had limited opportunities to impress at United, sources say his numbers only confirm the difficult truth that he was not wanted by Solskjaer in the first place and it’s just not good enough. to do it at United.

In the summer of 2020, Solskjaer wanted United to sign Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho and Birmingham City midfielder Jude Bellingham, but the club failed to sign either player and s He ended up with Van de Beek because the Old Trafford recruitment team believed his performance data at Ajax, combined with his age, represented good value.

A source has told ESPN that the United coaches feel that, despite being technically sound, Van de Beek has only added to a crowded area of ​​the squad and that he is “not very different from Jesse Lingard” in terms of what he offered the team. Sources have also said that Van de Beek is too slow to be an effective Premier League player and that despite trying to get stronger physically, he continues to lack the strength required at the top level.

His tenacity and work-rate helped him earn the respect of fans and team-mates, however, and sources said there was a long time in the dressing room that he hadn’t had the chance to do. proven with a series of games to build fitness and confidence.

Sporadic appearances on the bench, a minute here and a minute there, will never lead to a positive result for Van de Beek or United. He is a player who needs a chance and a manager who believes in him, but he has neither at United. When he leaves, and when rather than if, Van de Beek will be right to look back on a lost time at Old Trafford. But when a player is signed and the manager doesn’t want him, it rarely ends well.

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