United legend Rio Ferdinand has been speaking out about United’s use of Donny van de Beek.
The Dutchman, whose transfer from Ajax to Real Madrid in 2019 fell through at the last minute, joined United a year later but has found first team opportunities limited at his new club.
There has been a great deal of speculation about the player’s happiness at Old Trafford and about whether manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes in him sufficiently to ease him into the starting line-up.
‘I think he would add value to this team, definitely,’ Ferdinand said on his Vibe with FIVE show (via punditarena.com).
‘He’s someone who would create goals, he played a part in the goal [vs. 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 the 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 obvious that 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 strong points. But then it begs the question: why buy him then?’
The latter point is an important one. Van de Beek played as a central midfielder more often than as an attacking one for Ajax – and even played as a holding midfielder quite regularly. But Solskjaer appears much keener to play him in the number 10 role, which is usually occupied by Bruno Fernandes.
Ferdinand also believes that United misled the 23-year-old about how he would be used.
‘This isn’t what he was sold,’ he said.
‘I feel for him in that. Has he done enough when he’s been given an opportunity? I think it’s been difficult.
‘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 know what he was told and what he was sold on the way in because the lack of opportunities, I don’t think he’d have come here if he’d known that.’