Donny van de Beek endured a difficult first season at Man Utd but has returned determined to make a difference in his second season as he targets more involvement at Old Trafford
Van de Beek steps up return from injury amid transfer talk
Donny van de Beek has returned to Manchester United training with renewed vigour as he seeks to make his mark at Old Trafford.
The Dutchman’s struggles last term were well documented following his summer move from Ajax.
The £40m signing came off the bench to score on his debut, but opportunities were hard to come by.
Van de Beek found himself behind Bruno Fernandes in the pecking order and was restricted to brief cameos.
There was talk of a summer move away but a source has told the Athletic that there is “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.
Van de Beek’s summer plans were halted by injury which meant he couldn’t represent the Netherlands at Euro 2020.
The arrival of Jadon Sancho provides the Dutchman with further competition in attack, but he appears ready for the challenge.
Last term he made 19 appearances league – although only four of those came as a starter.
A lack of consistent game time certainly made it hard for him to make an impact and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded in January that the player was not satisfied with his amount of minutes.
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He said:“I wouldn’t say that Donny is happy. Of course, he wants to play more, but he gets about his job in the right manner.
“We are doing well and have got players who are playing really well in his position.”
Solskjaer has even referenced his own role at United during his playing days and compared it to Van de Beek.
“He reminds me a lot about myself, when I first came in, that he understands my difficulties and challenges,” he added.
“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.
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“He knows he is important for us and knows he is going to play many games.”
Van de Beek is aware that Solskjaer will make no promises regarding his game time going forward.
But the Red Devils boss is looking to play a more progressive style which may enhance the 24-year-old’s chances.
Solskjaer is looking to do away with the two-man holding midfield pivot that was regularly used last term.