Donny van de Beek has joined Manchester United at the “perfect time”, says Pierre van Hooijdonk, with the former Netherlands international admitting that his fellow countryman had become “too good” for Ajax.
Van de Beek, 23, left Ajax this week after 12 years on the Dutch club's books, having joined their academy in 2008 and worked his way up to the first team.
It appeared at one stage as though Van de Beek was destined to link up with La Liga giants Real Madrid, but an agreement there broke down.
The Blancos’ loss has been United’s gain, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer moving to snap up a talented playmaker in a £35 million ($46m) transfer.
Van Hooijdonk expects plenty of value to be found in that deal, with Van de Beek taking on a Premier League challenge at a stage in his career where he is best placed to make the desired impact.
“He’s still a young man but he is an example to a professional of how you should develop as young boy - coming through the ranks at Ajax and step by step getting to a level where you are too good to play in this league.
“He came to this point. It is then the perfect time to join a big club. When you join a big club after following that path you are going to be a regular for sure.
“There are many examples of young players who were signed up by the likes of United, Arsenal, Chelsea, City but they are signed at a younger age and are not mature yet and they have to try and develop in the youth system and they are sent out on loan to get experience. In my opinion, this is the best way to develop as a young boy and this is the step at the right time.”
Van Hooijdonk added on the qualities that Van de Beek will offer to United, with his time at Ajax seeing him deliver an impressive haul of 41 goals and 34 assists: “Physically, his body is strong enough to be a professional player – not many injuries during his career so far.
“His main strength is as a box to box player – great football brain and always there where the ball can come, and a great finisher.”
United have shown that they are prepared to put faith in youth, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sticks to a philosophy that has served the Red Devils well down the years, and Van Hooijdonk expects that approach to benefit Van de Beek.
He said: “Under Solskjaer we have seen a lot of youngsters getting their chance in the team.
“I think this is another step and I’m sure United will do more business in the transfer market this season. This is another step towards taking United back to where they should be.”