Manchester United

Donny van de Beek needed Man Utd exit to address World Cup fears

Jamie Spencer
Donny van de Beek was repeatedly left out of Netherlands squads in the first half of the season
Donny van de Beek was repeatedly left out of Netherlands squads in the first half of the season / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

Donny van de Beek sealed a loan move from Manchester United to Everton on transfer deadline day, with Louis van Gaal’s warning about his immediate international future likely to have been one of the factors behind his decision to leave Old Trafford.

Van de Beek’s wish to go somewhere else and have a chance to play regular football first surfaced in November and he was expected to have plenty of options when the January window opened. As it was, United spent most of the month refusing to let him go.

The club were reluctant to sanction anything right up until the final days of the window. Crystal Palace were initially pushing for a deal, with the player’s camp also pushing from the inside. When United eventually relented, it opened the door for Everton to swoop in instead.

Van de Beek will hope to get his first Premier League start since May when he soon starts pulling on an Everton shirt. The Dutchman, a 2019 Ballon d’Or nominee, has played more than ten minutes of a Premier League match just once this season and has only started 19 times in all competitions in 17 months since a high-profile and much-lauded £40m transfer from Ajax in 2020.

After a difficult debut season, there was hope of an improved second in Manchester for Van de Beek. He spent the summer working on his strength and fitness to better prepare himself for the physicality of English football and impressed in the early stages of pre-season.

But when the campaign kicked off for real, things just went back to how they had been before. Across August, September and October, he played six minutes of Premier League football.

Van de Beek had been a key player from a refreshed generation of Dutch players since 2019. He scored in successive games against Italy and Spain in 2020 and would have gone on to play at Euro 2020, only for injury forcing him to withdraw from the final Oranje squad.

But the starting role that he had previously claimed while starring for Ajax was reduced to a back-up role last season as he sat on the bench for United. Then followed a stark warning from new Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal ahead of the first international break of this season.

In no uncertain terms, the former United boss told Van de Beek that he had to be playing at club level to be considered for international selection. But he wasn’t and that warning was no empty threat, with the player since left out of the last three Dutch squads. To put that into context, when fit he had previously been called up for every squad since his debut in 2017.

Van Gaal explained his stance at the end of August, telling media at a press conference: “I called Donny van de Beek. I told him that he needs to start playing games.”

With a World Cup on the horizon that the Dutch have already qualified for – their first since 2014 after surprisingly failing to qualify four years ago – Van de Beek will have been well aware of the major risk of missing out unless something changed with regard to his club situation.

The move to Everton until the end of the season should kickstart his career. If he can prove to United that he can make an impact in the Premier League, his longer term future could even be back at Old Trafford in the run up to the World Cup as there is no option to buy in the loan deal.

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