Donny van de Beek has been warned that he may have made a mistake in joining Manchester United, with Johnny Heitinga claiming that a fellow Dutchman is in danger of seeing his “development” stall at Old Trafford.
Eyebrows were raised when the Red Devils dipped back into the transfer market for another creative midfielder over the summer.
With the likes of Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Juan Mata already on their books, there was a sense that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should have been prioritising recruitment in other areas.
United, though, opted to move quickly once it became apparent that Van de Beek was available, with the Premier League heavyweights moving to ensure that the 23-year-old did not end up at a domestic or continental rival.
The Netherlands international was considered to boast all of the tools required to be a success in England, but he has been restricted to just 222 minutes of Premier League football so far – making only two starts in top-flight competition.
He saw no game time at all in United’s last outing, as they played out a 0-0 derby draw with Manchester City, and Heitinga fears his compatriot made the wrong career call when leaving Ajax.
The former Oranje star, who spent time with Everton and Fulham in his playing days, told Stadium Astro of Van de Beek: “He has had an impact when coming on.
“I have doubts that he made the right decision in going to Manchester United because they have top quality midfielders – Pogba, Bruno Fernandes.
“He has to get used to the speed of play, the fitness. It’s tough, it’s intense in the Premier League, the Dutch league can’t be compared.
“Frenkie de Jong is playing at Barcelona, Matthijs de Ligt is at Juventus, Hakim Ziyech is playing for Chelsea, so Donny was part of a team and now he has to do it by himself.
“It’s not easy when you see the midfielders at Manchester United to play them out of the team.
“I’m in doubt if he made the right decision to make that move. I’m a little bit worried about his development because he isn’t playing many games. At his age, he needs to play games. This is not good for his development.”
Another former Netherlands international, ex-Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot, agrees that Van de Beek is going to have to learn quickly at Old Trafford in order to make the desired impact.
A man who left Ajax for Stamford Bridge in 1999 said: “I like Donny, he’s a nice kid. When players come broad, they have to understand that when you play in your home country you get, I don’t want to say protection, but you get a certain treatment – certainly coming through Ajax. When you get to England, it’s a whole different ball game.
“At Ajax you learn a lot but my aim was to come to England and not stay in Holland. Now that he is there, he has to work really hard on himself – harder than he can imagine.
“Sitting on the bench, I hated it the most and I’m sure he will have the same feeling. He has to work it out quickly.”
The Red Devils, with Van de Beek looking for minutes, will be back in action on Thursday when they take in a trip to Sheffield United.