The Dutch midfielder will be looking to make a far bigger impact in the new season after a disappointing first campaign at Old Trafford
Transfer update: Arsenal ‘plan’ player-plus-cash Maddison move
The 2021-22 season is a huge one for Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek.
Big things were expected of the Dutch international when he made a £40m switch to Old Trafford from Ajax last summer.
But his campaign was massively disappointing, and he managed just four Premier League starts, looking a shadow of the player he was in the Netherlands.
His displays were so underwhelming that there were even strong rumours that could depart this summer, less than a year after initially joining.
However, judging by comments from his Red Devils teammates and manager, Van de Beek appears determined to fight for his place in the team and silence his critics.
Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)
The 24-year-old has looked visibly bulkier in pre-season, and Bruno Fernandes made reference to this in an interview with the club’s official website.
“As a professional player you always prepare for your season before you come back for training, you always do something before and I think everyone was doing their jobs at home,” he said.
“I’m happy to see how everyone is, how happy they are to be back and they are training really hard.
“Yes he (Van de Beek) is working hard and working hard in the gym. Obviously he is one of the quality players we know and now he’s building up.”
Fernandes is not the only United player to be impressed by Van de Beek’s work in the gym, with Harry Maguire commenting on a post which saw the Dutchman pulling on the captain’s armband in a friendly.
The England star wrote: “Don’t stretch that armband @Donnyvdbeek!”
According to a report in The Athletic, sources say “a hunger and fire” is burning within the playmaker as he seeks to prove his worth at United.
Another source said “even his eyes look happier” compared to the back end of last season.
Indeed, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s recent comments on Van de Beek are in stark contrast to when he admitted the player was far from happy back in January.
And he suggested he and Edinson Cavani will relish the opportunity to play in front of supporters at Old Trafford in the near future.
“You’ve not experienced Manchester United until you’ve scored in front of the Stretford End,” said Solskjaer.
“Of course, Edi scored in front of some of them, and they’ve both scored in that end, but now, when it’s a full stadium, it will be different for the two of them.
“Manchester United with and without fans are two different things. To be reunited with them will be top.”
Solskjaer appears to have a soft spot for Van de Beek, saying in that January interview that “he reminds me a lot about myself.
“I was the same with Sir Alex [Ferguson, former Man Utd head coach]. When he left me out I understood and I was happy for the team to win – and Donny is that type of guy.
“He knows he is important for us and knows he is going to play many games.”
Whether or not that proves to be the case remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that Van de Beek is doing everything he can to ensure he finally lives up to expectations.