Donny van de Beek can bring the best out of Bruno Fernandes at Manchester United as he knows exactly what the Portuguese playmaker wants to do on the ball, according to Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes.
Van de Beek has endured a slow start to life at Old Trafford since moving from Ajax in the summer for £40 million ($55m), however, he impressed when he played the full 90 minutes of the 4-1 Champions League win over Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday night.
The Dutch midfielder dictated play as Fernandes impressed going forwards, scoring twice in the opening 20 minutes to set United on their way before a Marcus Rashford penalty and a late Daniel James strike completed a very satisfactory victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men.
Former United defender Ferdinand said Van de Beek had shown why Solskjaer kept patience with him despite the pressure to deliver results, and that his selfless style of play could prove crucial in bringing out the best in those around him, especially Fernandes.
Speaking on BT Sport, Ferdinand said: “We’ve all been waiting to see Van de Beek play, they spent £40m on him, you want to see more than cameos from him here and there. We’ve been impatient, but today he has justified why he has been brought to the club and why he is thought so highly of in European football.
"He is the one player in the squad who is happy playing one-touch, two-touch, keeping it simple. He sacrifices parts of his game for other people to flourish, and in any great team you need players like that, who make other players tick. Bruno benefited today from having him in the team.”
Fellow ex-United player Scholes agreed, saying Van de Beek had demonstrated an awareness of what Fernandes intends to do that could make him a key cog in the starting XI in the future.
Scholes said: “The first 15 minutes were excellent, Van de Beek was instrumental in that with his link-up play with Fernandes. He is very aware of what Fernandes wants to do with the ball. They looked dangerous, they kept creating chances, they looked like they were going to score goals.”
United's win on Tuesday leaves them with nine points from four games in Champions League Group H, needing just one more from their remaining two fixtures to qualify for the last 16.
They host Paris Saint-Germain next week, before travelling to RB Leipzig for their final group-stage game.