Donny van de Beek made the right career call in linking up with Manchester United, claims his former Ajax youth team coach Ruben Jongkind, with the 23-year-old told that joining Real Madrid would have been a “disaster”.
The Netherlands international has revealed that he had an agreement in place with the Blancos prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 causing many plans to be ripped up.
Van de Beek feared that a high-profile switch had passed him by as Real were forced to walk away, but the summer transfer window has delivered a £35 million ($46m) move to Old Trafford.
Jongkind believes the Red Devils will prove to be a better fit for the talented midfielder, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer having shown that he is prepared to show faith in youth as part of a project that has less pressure on it than one at Santiago Bernabeu.
“He will be challenged, the average age in the Premier League is probably around 26 or 27, but I think he has shown in European campaigns that he has enough skills to play at the highest level,” Jongkind told the Manchester Evening News.
“He likes a challenge and he has this mindset that he wants to go further every time. I think this is a better time than, for example, [Justin] Kluivert to AS Roma, that was too early.
“It is also a good club to move to. United have a history of bringing in youth players, I think it’s a great choice, much better than Real Madrid, I think that would have been a disaster.
“The playing style is more akin to Donny at United than Real Madrid as well.”
Jongkind is convinced that Van de Beek will reach the very top of the game, with his potential having been noted by some iconic figures in Amsterdam over a decade ago.
“It must have been in 2008 or 2009, I think he was playing in the Under-10s at the time,” former Ajax academy coach Jongkind added.
“He did a trial for Ajax, back then we had the arrangement that children could come for trials once or twice a week for three or four weeks.
“I was also involved with the younger age groups. He ended up being selected for Ajax and he was in the team of [Dennis] Bergkamp. After a short while we talked about him and Dennis said 'this player is going to be big so you have to work with him individually now'.
“His coordination of movement wasn’t great back then, he had the strength but not the finesse, we worked on that.
“Dennis saw that Donny had an ability to see spaces and intelligence as a young player to naturally see where he should be.”
Van de Beek proved to be a useful source of goals and assists for Ajax and is being backed to offer similar qualities to United alongside the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.