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‘Why buy him then?’ – Man Utd’s treatment of Van de Beek puzzles Ferdinand

09:42 GMT 23/03/2021
Donny van de Beek Manchester United 2020-21
The former Red Devils defender believes a Dutch midfielder is talented enough to be playing a more prominent role in plans at Old Trafford

Rio Ferdinand has sought to defend Donny van de Beek, with the Manchester United legend of the opinion that a Dutch midfielder should be playing a more prominent role at Old Trafford, but he still finds himself asking why a deal was done in the first place.

A highly-rated Netherlands international completed a £40 million ($55m) move from Ajax to a Premier League heavyweight during the summer transfer window of 2020.

He has taken in 27 appearances across all competitions this season, but only two of those outings have been top-flight starts and just one goal has been contributed to the collective cause.

What has been said?

Amid claims that Van de Beek is growing frustrated and could seek to bring his time in England to a close after just 12 months, United legend Ferdinand has told VIBE with FIVE: “I feel for him. I don't care who you are - if you're playing the odd two minutes here and there, three minutes here and there, you cannot perform. I don't care what level of player you are.

“I don't think he's been helped in terms of team selection and opportunities so I don't think it's fair to say he's underperforming because he's not been put in a position to perform yet on a consistent basis.

“I really do feel for him but it would be interesting to hear what he was sold and told on the way in because the lack of opportunities, I don't think he'd have come here if he'd known that.”

Ferdinand added: “I watched him a hell of a lot in the Champions League in the year they had a good run to the semi-finals, Ajax. 

“He was so impressive in the way he arrived in the box, the way he could play deeper as well and keep the ball, keep the game ticking. 

“I think he would add value to this team, definitely. He's someone who would create goals, he played a part in the goal (versus Leicester). When he gets in the box, he knows how to put the ball in the back of the net. 

“But to get in the box he's got to play in the position where Bruno Fernandes is playing and he's not going to do that. Can he do it from No.8 position or No.6 when he's holding? I think he can. He's intelligent enough. 

“Ajax players are brought up to be intelligent footballers, they are able to play multiple positions, he can do that. It's just obviously United want a stiffer central midfield area behind Bruno. 

“I get that, given that's got to be protecting the centre-backs and that's not going to be one of Van de Beek's strengths. But then it begs the question: why buy him then?”

The bigger picture

Van de Beek has been accused of looking “lost” as he struggles to make the desired impact at United.

He was tied to a five-year contract upon his arrival at Old Trafford, but it remains to be seen whether that deal will be honoured.

Plenty have been calling on him to seek out another move at the earliest opportunity, with a highly-rated playmaker needing regular game time in order to fulfil his undoubted potential.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been calling for patience, with Van de Beek still part of his long-term plans, but there is only so long that those on the fringes can wait before their attention starts to drift elsewhere.

Further reading