Donny van de Beek’s unselfish nature will help teammates like Bruno Fernandes “flourish” at Man Utd, according to club legend Rio Ferdinand.
The Dutchman was handed a rare start against Istanbul Basaksehir at Old Trafford on Tuesday and impressed in a deep-lying midfield role as United stormed to a 4-1 win.
Fernandes bagged two early goals to set the hosts on their way, before Marcus Rashford added a penalty before half-time, with Dan James sealing the rout late on.
But it was van de Beek’s performance which really got the BT Sport pundits purring.
“Great night for Donny van de Beek – he’s waited a long time, big signing, £40m,” Ferdinand said.
When asked why the 23-year-old had not been playing regularly, Ferdinand replied: “I think Ole is the man to answer that question.
“He’s not one of those players that is waiting to adjust, I think he’s a player who has a great understanding of the game. He was educated at Ajax, as we all know, their academy is definitely about education.
“As you saw today, it was telling of the way he played. He can play off one touch, two touch, he can play as a deep-lying player, as an eight, or even as a 10 – as we saw later in the game.”
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer may have missed out on Jadon Sancho in the summer, but he still made some big moves in the transfer market with Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani all arriving.
But their start to the season has been a mixed bag, with a home defeat to Crystal Palace and a 6-1 thrashing by Spurs at one end of the scale, and a tremendous 2-1 win over PSG in Paris at the other.
The question now is whether they can find the right balance?
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Ferdinand’s fellow ex-United star Paul Scholes added: “Where he played tonight looked like his best position.
“I think he’ll be willing to try and do that (defensive side), but it won’t be the defensive quality he’ll bring, it’ll be the link-up play between the forward players which is important.”
Ferdinand then explained how it was that willingness to put the team’s needs before his own which maximised van de Beek’s contribution.
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“He’ll sacrifice parts of his game for other people to flourish, and that’s an important factor in any great team, you need players like that,” he added.
“And he’s one player who I feel will make other players tick and perform better.
“I think Bruno was the main person today who benefited from him being in this team.”