The Dutchman was a bit-part player at Old Trafford last season, and despite a clamour from fans on social media to see more of the ex-Ajax man in the lineup and encouraging words from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he remains on the outside looking in
When Donny van de Beek joined Manchester United a year ago, he was considered one of Europe’s most exciting young talents.
Van de Beek arrived at United in a £40million deal on the back of reaching the 2019 Champions League semi-finals with Ajax, his ebullient form integral to that fine run.
A title winner with Ajax, the move to United was seen as the launchpad for van de Beek to take his career to the next level and fulfil his undoubted potential as a player of world-class ability.
“I cannot begin to explain how incredible an opportunity it is to join a club with such an amazing history,” gushed Van de Beek when he joined United.
“I’m now ready to take the next step in my career. Having spoken to the manager about his vision for this team, I cannot wait to be a part of that.”
A year on and van de Beek is still waiting to be a part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans, Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Southampton the 20th time he has been an unused substitute since joining United.
Last season van de Beek started 15 matches, only four in the Premier League, with this season set to follow a familiar pattern after remaining on the bench for United’s first two games of the new campaign.
It seems van de Beek’s impressive work over the summer, bulking up in the gym to enable him to cope better with the robust nature of the Premier League, was ultimately a futile act.
When United needed a goal at the weekend to try to win the game, it was Jesse Lingard, a player who spent the second half of last season on loan and who will be sold if his £25m valuation is met, to whom Solskjaer turned, rather than van de Beek.
Whatever Solskjaer might say publicly about van de Beek having a part to play, it is patently clear the United boss does not trust the midfielder, by his continued reluctance to select him or even bring him on.
The view from Holland is that van de Beek was signed by United as a future replacement for Paul Pogba, with the common consensus the France World Cup winner would be leaving this summer.
Van de Beek’s debut season at United was supposed to allow him to settle in and find his feet, before filling the void left by Pogba, but it has not worked out that way, to the detriment of the 24-year-old.
Solskjaer’s continued snubbing of van de Beek has put the player’s international place in jeopardy, with Holland coach and former United boss Louis van Gaal set to omit him from the first squad of his third spell in charge on Friday.
Although van de Beek is desperate to play regularly, he is said to be torn over his future, with those close to him saying he would view it as a failure if he were to leave United now.
Yet the reality is there are currently few takers for a player once considered one of Europe’s best prospects, but whose burgeoning career has now come to a nightmare halt at the Theatre of Dreams.