Manchester United

Man Utd must trust Donny van de Beek or buy a new midfielder

Jamie Spencer
If Man Utd can't sign a new midfielder, Donny van de Beek deserves a chance
If Man Utd can't sign a new midfielder, Donny van de Beek deserves a chance / Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
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Manchester United have no choice but to pursue a new central midfielder in the final days of the summer transfer window in the wake of Scott McTominay’s injury setback.

The only other option is to show at least a little bit of trust in Donny van de Beek, who must be wondering how on earth he will ever get a game when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer cautiously went for Nemanja Matic in place of McTominay against an average at best Southampton last time out.

McTominay is not expected to be sidelined for very long and has himself posted on social media that he will be ‘back sooner than you think’. But the fact he will be missing at all after his struggle for fitness during pre-season and United’s lack of other quality options still poses a problem.

The homegrown 24-year-old has become a driving force for United over the last 18 months. His improvement and development has been clear to see and he bossed the midfield against Leeds on the opening weekend of the season when he was playing through pain.

United sorely missed him against Southampton a week later and a lacklustre central midfield performance from Fred and Matic set the tone for the rest of the team. McTominay’s absence highlighted a lack of depth the club might have hoped they could hide from until next summer when finances are a little healthier and the world is a little more normal.

United have already brought in Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane for a combined £114m this summer. Both deals are staggered payment structures over the next few years and United, having seen a significant drop in revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic, aren’t thought to have the finances to buy more players without first getting rid of a few others.

When every other club is having to take extra financial care, selling isn’t easy.

If United can make a few late sales – Jesse Lingard is one of those whose future remains uncertain as the transfer deadline nears – there are options. Ruben Neves, Yves Bissouma and Eduardo Camavinga, all slightly different central midfielders but all who would immediately improve the squad and provide a long-term upside as well, are each available for between £30m and £40m.

Saul Niguez was available for loan, but it seems Chelsea have stolen a march to agree terms with Atletico Madrid.

The alternative for United is to show some faith in Van de Beek, a player yet to have the chance to justify his £40m transfer from Ajax last summer.

The Dutchman started only four Premier League games in his debut campaign, with two of those in the final three weeks of the season. He was on the bench against both Leeds and Southampton but didn’t get on the pitch in either game.

Although primarily thought to be a relief option for Bruno Fernandes or Paul Pogba further up the pitch, Van de Beek did also play a deeper more conventional central midfield role at Ajax. This summer he has also worked hard on building his fitness and strength in an effort to get up to speed with the intensity of English football, which he appeared to not be ready for last season.

Van de Beek is determined to prove himself, but first he needs that chance. If there isn’t going to be another midfield signing before the deadline, Solskjaer cannot keep ignoring him.


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