Donny Van de Beek- Man United

Manchester United have scouted Donny van de Beek keenly and silently in the last couple of months. And following the recent reports of close to reaching an agreement with the Dutch starlet, A move to Old Trafford is imminent. 

The midfield sensation and a host of other Ajax players illustrate how efficient and grounded the youth system of the club is. For Van de Beek, his explosion onto the European scene came in the 2018/2019 season when his electrifying Ajax side reached the Champions League semi-finals.

He was one of their standout young stars alongside Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong – now at Juventus and Barcelona respectively.

That said, it would be a different kettle of fish when Van de Beek lands at United. The environment, the manager’s philosophy, and the club itself are factors that Van de Beek may need some adapting to. Certainly, much more would be expected of him at United than Ajax.

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However, Donny van de Beek seems like a bargain that comes in handy for United given his fantastic exploits since he broke into the Ajax first team in 2015, as well as when he became more popular last season – so much so that he was courted by other top clubs in Europe.

And for that to have happened, there’s something special about the 23-year-old.

Football Castle takes a tactical look at what Van de Beek brings to the Ole Gunnar Solskjae-led Manchester United.

Forward Passing Ability

As a central midfielder, Van de Beek possesses a great forward passing technique which most times may be found wanting in other players playing the same position and of the same age.

Looking at the current crop of United’s midfielders and their passing abilities, only two can boast of great passing skills (Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba). This makes Van de Beek’s arrival a beautiful addition.

One of Van de Beek’s biggest strengths is his ability to detect vertical lanes to lay passes into. These are the spaces created when a team plays with both wingers hugging the touchline and spreading deep into the opposition’s defence. And thankfully for VDB, United favour the flanks more than the midfield which pulls the opposition fullbacks near the touchline. Hence, no problem on that end.

Also, he looks to be direct in his play, causing the most amount of danger he can with quick passing, as opposed to keeping it ticking over and retaining possession. Van de Beek also likes to play straight into the attacking players, or in behind opposition defences and this leaves his attacker most times in a 1 v 1 position with the goalkeeper.

Running With And Without The Ball

Not only does he understand his role, but his ability to comprehend the roles of others around him – this is one trait that enhances the team’s build-up play. 

Van de Beek possesses powerful running capabilities on the ball which allows him to make driving runs, many of them into the box to create goal-scoring opportunities. 

His consciousness of what is around him helps with identifying where there are spaces to attack. Additionally, his understanding of how to use his physique well in these situations helps to get his body between his opponent and the ball, keeping it away from defenders.

Donny Van de Beek
Donny Van de Beek is an excellent addition for United. (Getty Images)


With incredible versatility, Van de Beek can operate in a central or attacking midfield role and has been described as the classic box-to-box midfielder, being that vital link between defence and attack. 

The 23-year-old has the ability to play anywhere across the middle – a trait which will increase his value when he plays alongside Pogba and Fernandes.

He is also not afraid of sitting deep and doing the hard work when he needs to. According to, Van de Beek makes an average of two tackles per game in the Eredivisie – the fourth highest in the Ajax squad – and can help out in a more defensive role when needed.

His 14 goals and seven assists from 34 appearances in a curtailed season provide an insight into his thirst for goals, as United now boast a midfield with plenty of goalscoring threat.


It remains to be seen exactly how Solskjaer wants to line up all his midfield talents without disrupting the team’s balance. However, Van de Beek is the club’s first major summer signing and is a big boost to the quality within the ranks at Old Trafford.

Compared to the likes of Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira, and Juan Mata; VDB is just the kind of addition required for the return to Champions League football.


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