Donny van de Beek’s performance for Manchester United against Istanbul Basaksehir was everything we asked for.
The Dutchman played for all 90 minutes in the 4-1 win and shone in a deeper midfield role.
He should have played himself into contention for a start this weekend in the Premier League for the very first time.
United face Southampton on Sunday and a tough match awaits. Van de Beek could be the perfect player for this match.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side have caused problems for United with their pressing style in recent match-ups.
Paul Pogba was caught in possession for a goal in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford in July and the Saints eventually wore United down.
Van de Beek showed against RB Leipzig that he can handle a high press, and his technical ability was on show against Basaksehir again in midweek, with 87.5 per cent of his passes completed.
The question is not so much whether Van de Beek starts at St Mary’s, but who should partner him in midfield?
Van de Beek proved a point
The Netherlands international showed he can play in the same side as Bruno Fernandes. That is a big plus for United.
Van de Beek partnered Fred in a midfield two and together they played well, but Istanbul had their chances too.
This is good for an attacking game. The duo provided the energy United needed to launch attacks early and often.
In a tricky away game however, Fred and Van de Beek run the risk of getting caught out a little more.
An alternative is to play Nemanja Matic ahead of Fred. The veteran is seen as United’s most disciplined midfielder in a positional sense.
Scott McTominay could also feature if he is passed fit. The 23-year-old was not in the squad against Istanbul and this will count against his chances.
Paul Pogba is also battling an injury, but a Van de Beek and Pogba partnership would seem too risky in any case.
The same dilemma facing United against Southampton also exists against Paris Saint-Germain next week.
Van de Beek has earned a starting role. Fred did well alongside him. Whether it was good enough to earn the partnership a repeat, remains to be seen.
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