Donny van de Beek has appeared in just 50 of the 89 matches Manchester United have played in all competitions since joining the club for £35million from Ajax in September 2020
Van de Beek has so far failed to establish himself as a United player, spending the majority of his time on the substitutes’ bench.
The Dutch midfielder joined United from Ajax on a five-year contract in September 2020 for an initial fee of £35million after playing a starring role in the 2019 Champions League.
He has failed to replicate such form at Old Trafford, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick handing him few chances to play.
His 89th-minute substitute appearance in the 2-2 draw against Aston Villa on Saturday was his 50th appearance for the club.
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Yet he has completed the full 90 minutes on just nine of those occasions, while his eight Premier League appearances this season have amounted to just 68 minutes on the pitch.
United supporters have been bemused by the club’s use of the 24-year-old, who has been forced to compete against the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, Fred, Scott McTominay and Nemanja Matic for a starting berth.
A report from ESPN has now shone a light on the situation, claiming that Van de Beek was not wanted by Solskjaer in the first place and that there is a widespread belief he is simply not good enough to make it at United.
Solskjaer wanted to sign Borussia Dortmund duo Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham in the summer of 2020, but ended up with Van de Beek instead.
That is reportedly because United’s recruitment team believed his performance data and age represented good value for money.
That has not been reflected since, with United’s coaches feeling he joined a congested area of the squad and isn’t an upgrade on Jesse Lingard, who has also struggled for game time in the past two seasons.
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After not being allowed to leave for Everton, Van de Beek was encouraged to bulk up over the summer of 2021.
He did just that, returning to the Netherlands to work with FysioConcept in a bid to turn around his fortunes under Solskjaer, according to The Athletic.
It didn’t work and sources have told ESPN that Van de Beek “is too slow to be an effective Premier League player” and “continues to lack the strength required at the highest level”.
Overall, his 50 games for United total just 1,836 minutes of action, which works out at an average of 36 minutes per appearance.
Ironically, his only goals for United so far came on his debut, way back in September 2020 and in Solskjaer’s final game in charge – the embarrassing 4-1 defeat by Watford in November 2021.
Despite Van de Beek’s struggles, Rangnick has made it clear that he won’t sanction a move away from the club in the January transfer window.
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“It is the same situation as with Dean [Henderson],” he said last week. “I am glad to have him in the squad, he is always performing at a high level in training.
“I had a conversation two weeks ago and advised him to stay until the end of the season.
“He wants to play in the World Cup and [current Netherlands manager] Louis Van Gaal told him he needs to regularly play.
“I understand it, but we have a lot of competition in our squad.”